By Valerie Milano and Somalia Smith
Hollywood, CA (Hollywood Today) 10/28/2012 – “Years ago we were dubbed ‘the Black Sundance’ and I think that speaks volumes about our festival. There are black film festivals all over the country and all over the world, but that’s what separates us along with the fact that we’re in Hollywood’s backyard.” “Not only do you have the opportunity to get your film seen by the people, but by the entertainment media who might want to talk to you.” Founder and Executive Director of the Hollywood Black Film Festival (HBFF), Tanya Kersey, on the benefits of participating in the Hollywood Black Film Festival. The non-profit organization was founded in 1999 in an effort to create mainstream opportunities for African American independent filmmakers. Open to both emerging and established artists, the four-day festival provides a chance for writers, directors, producers and actors to have their works seen by industry executives, a broader general public and anyone else that may have interest in supporting their projects. The HBFF also featured insightful panels and workshops, including financing strategies and creating diversity in show business. The 2012 edition added three free events to the roster as well.
Thursday nights opening festivities at the historic Montalban Theater was a flurry of African American news media, onlookers, enthusiasts and of course, celebrities. Though Los Angeles is notorious for laying out the red carpet on most any special occasion, the frenzy outside of the theater just before the premiere of Note to Self was truly incredible. Many of the films co-stars, including Brian McKnight and Eva Marcille could be seen strolling down the velvety path, smiling wide and graciously stopping to speak with reporters and lavish in the spotlight. Eventually the buzz did slow enough to get everyone seated and ready for the film. Written by and starring Christian Keyes (Madea Goes to Jail), Note to Self’s story of self realization through exploring your sexual identity is just a snapshot of the many films and short stories being shown during the 2012 HBFF.
In the true spirit of a fest, the line up of featured films was reminiscent of a renaissance period. The variety of viewings swept the gamut from the woes of a racist South, to the short story of world-class staring champions and their quirky relationship with their master teacher, all of this captured from the highly creative and uninhibited perspectives of a new era of multi talented filmmakers.
Whether you are African American or not, HBFF is an amazing opportunity to get your finger on the pulse of a new Hollywood while enjoying and supporting fresh talent. In fact, if you get out now, you can still catch several films being shown today, including 24 Hour Love, which will close out the event this evening.