This weekend we had the opportunity to check out the 2017 IBFF in Nashville, TN. The workshops, movies, speaking engagements , networking and parties were all amazing. There were many talented people gathering over the weekend to support, engage, and speak on black films and the processes in creating films.
We have a a short little round up of our IBFF experience that was featured as a repost on Instagram see below:
Hello everybody, we would like to formally introduce our new staff member, Jeanice McCord! Welcome her to the team and check out her review and coverage at the 2016 International Black Film Festival which was held last week in Nashville, Tennessee at various locations.
Jeanice McCord Entertainment/Film Blogger
THE IBFF EXPERIENCE:FROM START TO FINISH
By Jeanice McCord
I experienced IBFF festivals in the past as a volunteer, but this year I was able to experience the whole IBFF festival as a patron with an open mind, mouth, and ears. I met filmmakers, actors, photographers, videographers, distributors, moderators, innovators, movers and shakers to say the least and that was just the tip of the iceberg. So…let’s begin shall we.
Thursday: Opening Night:
The IBFF Festival began opening night last Thursday at the beautiful and historic Belmont University. As I walked into the gorgeous Denise Johnson building on campus, I knew I was in for a special treat. The opening film, A Birth of Nation was co-written, directed, produced and starred in by Nate Parker. Other co-stars included Aja Naomie Harris, Gabrielle Union, James Earle Haley, and Armie Hammer. This biopic film is about the life and death of enslaved Virginian preacher, Nat Turner who led a slave rebellion in the 1800’s that led to the death of over 60 slave owners, women and children but ultimately led to the execution of many other enslaved Blacks. This film was viewed by a packed house of viewers who were just as eager as I to see such a powerful narrative. Parker’s depiction of the film was to tie in an overall message of the desensitization and the unnecessary killings of black men and how history can and will repeat itself. Overall, the film was heavy, Parker took many “creative liberties” in telling Turner’s story. Overall, this is a film that all adults of all backgrounds should go out and support. As the film closed moderator, Hazel Joyner Smith moderated the panel that included Erica Gilmore, council woman and professor, Brett Dismuke, distributor for SoChi Entertainment, Ruth Paul, Sag-Aftra Nashville, and Phylicia Fant, VP of Publicity & Lifestyle Strategy for Warner Brother’s Music. The night continued on with the official after party at Cabana restaurant where moviegoers could continue the conversation and enjoy a night on the town.
Friday: Friday night opened at the lovely and historical Opryland Hotel. The spotlight feature was held in the Magnolia Presidential Ballroom where many students from Meharry Medical college came to support the film. Friday night’s festivities included indie film, “Service to Man” which starred Morgan Auld, Christopher Livingston, Lamman Rucker, Seth Panitich, and Keith David. This film is about two outsiders, one black and the other white from totally different backgrounds and how they find their purpose in life at the Historically Black Medical School, Meharry in the 1960’s during the civil rights movement. Seth Panitich who wrote, co-directed and starred in the film, plays a Jewish professor that bonds with protagonist, Eli Rosenberg (played by Morgan Auld). Rosenberg struggles academically and personally as he tries to fit in and find his place at Meharry. Michael Dubouis, played by Christopher Livingston is trying to figure where he fits in as an academic who struggles with Rosenberg on a personal level. All is fair when Dean Holmes played by Keith David, calls the two in his office for random Q&A over the human anatomy.
These two oddballs finally find common ground to service their community and to help fulfill their Hippocratic duties as future physicians. Rosenberg, is caught in a cheating scandal, he must confront himself and his biases on whether he wants to continue his studies at Meharry or transfer to Vanderbilt. The film closes with Rosenberg making amends with his toughest adversary in the film, Professor Johnson, played by Lamman Rucker. This film was centered around Panitich’s father experiences as one of the first white students that attended Meharry in the 1960s. This film really has a fun and nostalgic feel to it, as a Nashville native, this is film that is good for the whole family. As the film closed, Director, Seth Panitich and Actor, Lamman Rucker opened the floor for questions about the film to the audience. The night continued on with food and fun at Fuse Restaurant and Bar where many attendees got to mix and mingle and talk about the festival.
Saturday was a big day for a lot of attendees at the festival, not only did some folks come to see amazing films or promote their film, many of them came to pitch. So what exactly is a pitch. A pitch is a 2 minute window to sell your idea to a panel of potential investors or distributors. This is the time for filmmakers to get straight to the point on what they are pitching, how much the project will cost, if you have a trailer or treatment, and how long is the series or film? Sounds scary and overwhelming…well it was. I interviewed some of the pitch”ees” and look forward to seeing some of their work in the future.
Batter Up…our first round of Pitch”ees” are
34-year old, young, vibrate, and educated Robert Vickers was born in Mobile, Alabama. He attended school in Tennessee and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Liberal Arts degree and has a Master’s Degree in Christian Leadership. Vickers is a local filmaker and has created a few shorts, “A shot at Paradise” and “Abort”. His web series “80/20” showcases women in five different stages of their relationships. He also has a film, “Buyer’s Remorse” that he is pitching to the panelists. He is hoping to change the world with his films one shot at a time.
21-year old, Lilian Ogbuefi is a beautiful, tall, Nigerian innovator. She is a senior at Fisk University with a double major in Business Administration and English with a minor in Film. She wants to show a Nollywood vibe in her TV series, Golden Fleece, that embarks on the ugly and dark side of immigration. Lilian informs me that Golden Fleece is the metaphor for Green Card. Lilian is looking for a distribution deal for her next project, a short film entitled, “Framed” which discusses the rampant amount of unreported sexual abuse on college campuses in the Nashville area.
Writer, Director, Producer, Music Supervisor, Howard Bell is a man of many talents. His faith based film, “Hav Faith”, stars Terron Brooks (“Temptations Mini-Series”) who plays Hamilton Vaughn, a former promoter who experiences a life altering event that places him in the forefront of a prominent church. Hamilton meets a AJ, son of the pastor at the prominent church that is less than pleased to see him and is determined to oust him no matter what it takes. “Hav Faith” is a film that against all obstacles, that we should always keep and “Hav Faith”. This film also co-stars Gary Sturgis (“Daddy’s Little Girl”, “Pride”, and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”), Brooklyn Tankard (Bravo’s, “Thicker than Water), Santiago Cirilo (“The Walking Dead”). His film, “Hav Faith” already has a limited theatrical release in several cities like Nashville, Clarksville, Memphis, Hopkinsville, KY and Lexington KY. He is hoping that his film can be accessed on a broader scope for more audiences to watch. For more information about his film go to www.havfaithmovie.com.
(Who’s Got Next)
Denise Farrell is a quite gem. This Nashville native graduated from Hunter’s Lane to continue on to becoming a basketball legend at Belmont University breaking a ton of basketball records including top 10 career points in scoring, highest percentage of free throws, and field goal percentage. Not only does she have the smarts but this sister has got mad skills to back it up. Backstory: Farrell created Jambalaya Sports and Entertainment which is an organization that is committed to developing sports leagues and social events throughout the greater Nashville area for youth and adults. Her series, “Who’s Got Next”, showcases an adult men’s basketball team that play in tournaments all over the U.S. to show not only who’s got next, but who’s got game. These Nashville based teams are comprised of complex characters. Many are former All-American athletes that made some life decisions that end up leaving them with the short end of the stick. Some of this talent are still in hopes of the ultimate dream– to play in the NBA. NBA superstars, Orlando Magic’s, Penny Hardaway, Indiana Pacer’s, Thaddeus Young, Denver Nuggets, Corey Brewer come by to play and show these guys, who’s got game or do they? For more information about “Who’s Got Next” visit www.jseworld.com.
IBFF continued to showcase more gems in the festival at the Opryland Hotel like “Black Gold: America is Still the Place”. “Black Gold: America is Still the Place” is a film based around the life of Charlie Walker. Walker played by the brilliant, Mike Colter (Netflix’s “Luke Cage”, “The Good Wife”) who is as funny and charming as he is vindictive. This Korean War Veteran, takes on the establishment and will not take “no” for an answer. Walker takes on a racist oil company in San Francisco in the 1970s and shows what happens when a Black man steps through that infamous “glass ceiling”. Walker with all the obstacles in his way ends up having the last laugh all the way to the bank. This film is funny but not suitable for children.
Left to Right: Director, Qasim Basir, Jeanice McCord, and Cory Hardrict
The next spotlight feature included “Destined”, a thriller film by written and directed by Qasim Basir (“Mooz-Lum”, “The Inspiration of Barack”) which starred Cory Hardrict, (American Sniper, Brotherly Love) who plays two different characters in two parallel universes that is faced with dilemma and tragedy as both try to make the right choices for their community and themselves only to led them to the same outcome. The movie also stars Margot Bingham, Hill Harper, Jesse Metcalfe, Zulay Henao, LaLa Anthony, Robert Christopher Riley. For more info about this film check out my interview below with Qasim and Cory. For more info on the movie visit Destined Movie on Facebook and Instagram.
The most anticipated feature of the night was none other than, “The Hip Hop Fellow”. This docu-film stars the world famous, 9th wonder, aka Patrick Douthit on his journey to become a Harvard Fellow and how the origins of Hip Hop are not only relevant but necessary in its role in academia. “The Hip Hop Fellow” also includes interviews from Dr. Louis Gates, Kendrick Lamar, Ali Shaheed Muhammed, Ab-Soul, among many others. I LOVED this film. It was great for any age and even the Q&A was as engaging as the film. Check out some of the excerpts below. If you don’t see any other films in my review, please go and support this film. Visit the www.harvardfellow.com for more info about this film.
SIDEBAR: If you have never been to a 9th Wonder party, put it on your bucket list and you will thank me mercilessly later.
Where was the official after-party? It went down at the Opryland hotel, Magnolia Presidential Ballroom with the world famous, 9th wonder. 9th got on the 1s and 2s and boy did he do his thing!!!!
Jeanice and 9th Wonder
My last and final feature was the Philadelphia docu-film, “The Last Ride: A Philadelphia Story” was directed by Lamar McPherson, this film shows the underbelly of ATV riders of Philadelphia’s inner city youth. Plagued with poverty and overwhelming gun violence in their community, these five riders take us on a journey of their relationships with family and police, but also their love of dirt bike riding. Although, street riding with these bikes are illegal, law enforcement uses their power to confiscate the bikes and arrest the riders. However, on the outskirts of Philadelphia, a Crossroad Powersports has created a team that want these young riders to represent them on their tracks. As these furious five achieve success in these cross road shows, will they be able to escape the inner city streets of Philadelphia or return home to gun violence, murder, and poverty? This film is gritty as it is poignant, but not suited for children. For more info on this film visit the site www.thelastridedoc.com
THE FINALE: AWARDS SHOW
THE IBFF festival has come to a close and its time to pick some winners. I am saddened that all good things must come to an end, but look forward to seeing more films at next year’s film festival. Well, drumroll please and the winners are:
Well who won “Best of Festival”? That is for you to decide. If you saw any of these films or shorts visit www.ibffevents.com and cast your vote for the Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Music Composer/Supervisor. IBFF 2016 celebrated with 10 years of great films and in 2017, I’m sure it will be another celebration in cinema with our stories, our legacies, our voices.