City Councilman-at-Large David Oh, through his Black Film Advisory Committee, presents “The Next Step: Black Filmmaking in Philadelphia.” One of the committee’s main objectives is to make Philadelphia a hub for aspiring filmmakers, and tomorrow’s free and interactive event will feature networking and an expert panel discussing what it takes to break into and succeed in the film industry from the Black perspective.
“Providing an opportunity for aspiring filmmakers is a natural fit for the creative/innovation focus of my city council committee” said Councilman Oh, chairman of the committee on global opportunities and the creative/innovative economy. “The goal of this event is to have Philadelphia-based experts who have succeeded in the film industry share their advice and insights with people who want to follow the same career path.”
The expert panel will include Charlie Mack and Jamal Hill, the producer/director team of “Streets”; Tanya Hamilton, writer and director of “Night Catches Us”; Q Deezy of Hot 107.9 Philly FM and producer and actor in “Exit Strategy”; James Elam, producer of several feature films and documentaries; and Rel Dowdell, writer/director of “Changing the Game.” The moderator of the panel will be Michael Dennis (aka Mike D.), award-winning filmmaker and founder of Reelblack.
“Technology has really made it possible for anybody with an idea to execute on a high level as far as production quality value,” explained Dennis, who is a member of the advisory committee. “In the past, when everything was filmed, it was prohibitively expensive for most people to consider themselves making feature films. But with the DVD and digital, there are more opportunities for people to become filmmakers. I think the objective is ‘how do you make better films that people want to see?’ I mean nobody wants to make a film and then have it stuck in a drawer. These people on the panel have actually done it. They are all of the filmmakers that have not only produced feature films, but gotten them distributed nationally. They’ve taken different paths, but we’re calling it the ‘Next Step’ because hopefully, wherever you are in your evolution or development you’ll come away inspired to go further and learn either how to do it or learn from the panelist’s mistakes so you don’t have to make the same mistakes.”
“The Next Step: Black Filmmaking in Philadelphia” takes place on Jan. 30 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street. The free event is open to all aspiring filmmakers in Philadelphia. To RSVP, visit http://bfac.eventbrite.com. For more information, visit facebook.com/PhillyBFAC.
Cinematheque Internationale of Philadelphia and the African American Museum in Philadelphia will launch a new film series, “Territories: Africa” on July 19, running through Dec. 20. Screenings will be held at the museum, 701 Arch St., the third Thursday of every month. Films will showcase themes of international social, political and economic issues while highlighting modern and historical representations of African people.
“We tend not to have access to foreign films,” said Ivan Henderson, curator of education at the museum. “And different countries in Africa can be foreign to African Americans. We wanted to make sure we hit a lot of different cultural groups, a lot of countries, and try not to overlap, to give ourselves a broader experience.”
The selected films are from Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and the United States.
“It’s a great reflection of our combined mission: bring films, some of which have never been screened in Philadelphia, to a larger audience and open a discussion on the politics and issues at play, as well as the evolving cinematic values in African filmmaking and how they compare to the aesthetics that an American audience is accustomed to,” said Neal Dhand, programmer of Cinematheque Internationale, in a press release.
Kicking off the series is Ousmane Sembene’s “Black Girl” (1966). This film follows the story of a Senegalese woman in search of a better life. She travels abroad to find employment with a French family, only to find that her duties are reduced to those of a maid. During her experience, she is faced with the constant awareness of race, abuse by her employers and emotional turmoil.
In August, Moustapha Diop’s “The Doctor from Gafire” (1986) will screen. September brings Jean-Marie Teno’s 1993 political documentary “Africa, I Will Fleece You!”
Djibril Diop Mambety’s “Hyenas” (1992) and Issa Traore de Brahima’s “The World is a Ballet” (2006) will show in October and November, respectively.
The series ends with the only American film, “Night Catches Us,” starring Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington. The setting is 1976 and Marcus, played by Mackie, returns to his race-torn neighborhood in Philadelphia, where he is reminded of an emotional past growing up during the Black Panther movement.
Director Tanya Hamilton will be in attendance for a question-and-answer session following the film. Henderson said some screenings will incorporate talks with the directors via Skype.
“Any filmmakers that we ever worked with are always honored and excited for us to showcase their films, not just because their films are being seen, but because they respond well to the mission that we have,” said Amber Lauletta, founder of Cinematheque. “Most all of our film screenings [have] discussion. We really dove into the film, which I think to filmmakers is something that is a rare treat.”