Why I Choose to Rebel with AFFRM and Celebrate Black Cinema

affrm together we are strong logo

I often find myself in passionate discussions with family and friends about the representation of people of color in film, or lack thereof. I love watching movies of all kinds, getting lost inside the world on my screen for a couple of hours, and seeing the stories unfold. I especially love seeing myself in those stories. And when I say myself, I really mean black and brown people that are portrayed as dynamic and full characters rather than the static one-dimensional characters that are common in many Hollywood films. Now, more than ever, Americans are more racially & ethnically diverse than earlier generations. Yet, this great diversity is not equally visible during Hollywood’s Oscar Night.

photo credit: AFFRM

photo credit: AFFRM

But who’s looking to Hollywood anyway? In the age of DIY media, entrepreneurship, and Youtube, we don’t need to knock at Hollywood’s door hoping to get a chance to get invited to the party. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a party going on right now filled with emerging artists, storytellers, and advocates choosing to see diverse images on screen. This is why I support AFFRM, the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement, which was created by filmmaker Ava DuVernay and a community of film artists and advocates that were tired of not seeing themselves on the big screen. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” In the similar vein, AFFRM is a supporting movement for storytellers and image makers to create the films that they always wanted to see and share stories that they always wanted to tell.

Since 2011, AFFRM successfully released several black independent films representing different stories from the African Diaspora. Now heading into 2014, AFFRM seeks an even larger community of film lovers to join the movement and support independent black cinema. So here’s a call to action–if you love indie films of any kind, especially films told by black filmmakers, join the movement. I sure did.  Affrm Thyself.

Take action at affrmaction.com

Song, Imagery, and Dance

I had a very long yet rewarding day volunteering at BlackStar Film Festival. I’ll have a cohesive reflection of my experience in a future post. As for now, I’m watching a few music videos to unwind.

Check out the creative genius that is Canadian filmmaker, Wendy Morgan. Wendy directed quite a few fun music videos–or I should say, short films with great soundtracks. Here are my favorites:





I enjoy seeing the common thread of choreography throughout the videos. What do you think of Wendy’s work? Do you have any favorite music videos or directors of music videos? Leave a comment and let me know.

Black Indie Films Shine at Film Festival

I’m beyond excited to be a part of the 2nd Annual–BlackStar Film Festival taking place in Philadelphia this weekend. BlackStar is Philly’s only festival that showcases film, artwork, and stories about people in the African Diaspora.  As a woman who values storytelling and image-making, I’m drawn to the festival’s focus on celebrating independent filmmakers that tell dynamic stories of black people. Often, we, or shall I say people in Hollywood, run the risk of producing and promoting a single narrative.  However, a festival such as BlackStar is the perfect platform to shine light on a variety of narratives that embody an entire global community.  For the next three days I will volunteer at the festival, watch films, attend a few panel discussions, and ultimately just soak up all of the greatness.

There are over 70 films that are screening at the festival this weekend. About half of the screenings are free admission. For a full schedule of films check here. Some films that I’m definitely excited to see are as follows:

Yelling to the Sky, directed by Victoria Mahoney ; shown Aug 4th at 4pm at International House Philadelphia

“A visceral coming-of-age story, “Yelling to the Sky” features a sobering, breakthrough performance from Zoe Kravitz, with an all-star supporting cast including Jason Clarke, Gabourey Sidibe and Antonique Smith.”

Things Never Said, directed by Charles Murray; shown Aug 3rd at 9pm at International House Philadelphia

“Wounded by a miscarriage and an angry husband, Kal tries desperately to find an outlet for her artistic voice.”

Nairobi Half Life, directed by David Tosh Gitonga; shown Aug 3rd 7pm at International House Philadelphia

“A young aspiring actor from upcountry Kenya dreams of becoming a success in big city Nairobi. After he makes his way there he quickly learns why the city is nicknamed Nairobbery as he is robbed of his money and belongings. He forms a friendship with a small-time gang leader who takes him in. Drawn into a new world of theft and violence, he struggles to keep his acting and criminal worlds separate.”

There are over 70 films that are screening at the festival this weekend. If you’re in the Philadelphia area come out and support!

Of Her Beauty: A not-so-simple story on love & friendship

Last weekend I saw indie film, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, by Terence Nance and it was an amazing experience. The film tells the true story of Terence’s feelings for his beautiful lady friend, Namik Minter, only to find out that there’s a good chance she doesn’t feel the same way in return. The story of unrequited love is an universal one, but Nance creatively patches together a sequence of memories on love and friendship through animation and narration. It is a very unique film that I would love to see again. Check out the trailer below and be sure to support the film for yourself. I’m definitely going to keep tabs on Terence Nance & company’s future projects.