Like most of you, I’m constantly, immensely frustrated by the overcoming helpless feeling that many of us experience each time the name of another black man or woman becomes a Twitter hashtag after his/her life has been taken by a police officer (usually white) with an itchy trigger finger; and, like you, I want to do something, but I’m not sure what exactly that should be. I can write, but I feel like there’s only so much that words on a screen can do. Besides, many have already written wonderful volumes on the subject, and continue to do so – better than anything I’ve ever put on paper. My paragraph or 3 won’t make any difference. Other than becoming the kind of vigilante we’ve all seen in movies, who goes on an avenging rampage – something that I’m obviously not going to do, nor am I suggesting that anyone should – one feels utterly impotent, which only frustrates even more.
I don’t have all the answers, but I thought this would be one way for us to, for lack of a better word, deal with these issues – via the art that we create, even if only because this is a film blog. Art has the power to inspire and educate, both of which I think are necessary predecessors of actual change.
So, to keep this brief, I’m inviting filmmakers who have made films that, in some way, speak to the ongoing #BlackLivesMatter movement, so that I can share them here on this blog for others to watch. Obviously it means that the work needs to be online (you can always upload it to any number of video sharing platforms if it’s not already), and will likely have to be short films (unless you have a feature film that’s online, or you’re willing to upload to the web for me to share here).
As I receive them, I’ll update this post with the films. And in the end, after a period of time has passed, and there are a good number of films for you all to watch and consider, we will all vote on which one we love best and we believe really tackles the issue at hand, and the winner will receive a $500 cash award, courtesy of yours truly. I’m certainly not rich, otherwise I’d prefer to actually commission and finance films that speak to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. But I’m just one person, and this is what my available resources allow me to do, and so I’m doing it. But it’s an open initiative, so if anyone reading this wants to join the effort, whether it’s by contributing to the winning pot to make it even more attractive, or even if it’s just spreading the word, helping elevate the contest to an even higher platform, so that it gets wider attention (meaning, even more films, and even more people will watch them; or the initiative attracts larger donors allowing for the financing of films on the subject), or even if you have some idea of how to better-organize something like this, be my guest. I’m not really one for speeches, or formalities. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll give this several months, to ensure that there’s enough time to let the news travel, and hopefully inspire some action on the part of filmmakers, audiences, potential partners, etc. So let’s put a 3-month deadline on it. At the end of October, I will take an inventory of all that would’ve happened by then, and then decide whether to continue to solicit films, or end the contest and we vote on a winner, and that winner gets the award.
So it begins… if you’re a filmmaker with a film (fiction or documentary) that speaks to #BlackLivesMatter, send it to me, and I’ll embed it within this post. As the films come in, I’ll continue to update this item, reposting it from time to time so that it stays at the top of the S&A main page. Email your links to me at email@example.com with the subject line "#BlackLivesMatter Films." Be sure to include the basics, like your name as director and the film’s synopsis.
UPDATE: It’s been 4 days since my initial announcement above, and I’ve received roughly 15 short films, which is a good start! I wasn’t sure what your reactions would be, so I’m pleased that several of you have decided to contribute, and hope that more will as the weeks pass. As I said, I’ll update this post as I receive films to share. But instead of sharing all 15+ that I’ve received thus far, I thought I’d spread them out, so as not to overwhelm immediately. So I’ll share 5 films a day, starting with the below list. Watch them all, and discuss. Another 5 will be shared tomorrow.
1 – Writer/Director: Shikeit. Synopsis: "#Blackmendream" is a 45-minute experimental documentary that creates a virtual “safe space” through hashtagging, enabling Black males to pull apart emotional restrictions often denied through crossroads of race and gender. The film, shot in black and white, features nine males from diverse backgrounds with their backs turned away from the camera. They openly discuss the obstacles they have faced as young black men, such as depression, parental neglect, and racial discrimination. Likened to a Freudian therapy session, questions such as, “When did you become a Black man?”, and “How were you raised to deal with your emotions?” give the viewer a rare glimpse into the emotional lives of Black men, a subject that is disregarded as weak in many black communities.
2 – Writer/Director: Gina Atwater. Synopsis: In 1960s Georgia, a black teenager defies the rules of segregation and his conservative father when he walks through the front door of his white employer’s home.
3 – Writer/Director: Kameishia D. Wooten. Synopsis: "Southern Cross" is a family drama set up against the backdrop of an African American Sunday gathering, where Gloria struggles to explain the symbolic meaning behind a Confederate Flag Pillow to her seven-year-old daughter due to her husband’s opposition of reliving the past.
4 – Writer/Director Carl Seaton. Synopsis: "Turn Down For What" is about some friends heading out for a night of partying who’s plans get altered when one ends up with a significant piece of information.
5 – Writer/Director Jason Richard Allan Foster. Synopsis: Written and performed by poet A Scribe Called Quess? through his words and the use of pictures, video clips and sound bites of the racially motivated murders that have transpired over the last several months/years, this short film implores the viewers to have an honest conversation about race in this newly dubbed "post-racial society". This was shot at Exhibit Be in Algiers, LA.