Martha’s Vineyard African American film fest has stars, streaming TV
Who will be on Martha’s Vineyard next week talking about movies and representation of people of color? For starters, look for actor/director Tyler Perry, activist Reverend Al Sharpton, actors Trace Ellis Ross and Regina Hall, directors Spike Lee and Cassie Lemons, musician Bobby Brown and TV’s Tamron Hall.
Over the past 20 years, the Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival has grown from an initial screening of 10 films to a nine-day Academy Award-winning, star-studded event with several hundred films in competition.
The annual festival, from Aug. 5-13 to “Celebrate 20 Years of Black Excellence in Film,” has in recent years attracted the attention of top production companies, cable and streaming channels — as well as Hollywood’s elite and history in Behind and in front of the camera
In a joint phone interview with husband Floyd Rance, co-founder of Run&Shoot Filmworks, which is producing the film, Stephanie Tavares Rance says: “From the beginning, we knew there was a need for people of color to be represented on the big and small screen.” MVAAFF. “You fast forward 20 years, now we have over 700 submissions from around the world, and we’re down to 70. You can see the progress that’s been made, and we’re happy to be a part of it. “
So, clearly, are many other filmmakers and producers. For example, this year’s opening night film is the award-winning documentary The Child, presented by Netflix contributor Above Ground — the production company of former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama — with producer Ahmir “Coast Love” Thompson. (fresh off an Oscar for “Summer of Soul”) among those on hand for a Q&A.
In addition to her and the other celebrities named for the festival’s centerpiece events at the Martha’s Vineyard Center for the Performing Arts in Oak Bluffs, Rance says more big names may be announced closer to the festival’s opening.
Until August 6:Woods Hole Film Festival hosts over 100 filmmakers in person, see why they’re so excited
Rance says the event has grown “in every category,” citing “attendance, content, bandwidth.” With the changes in technology since 2002, she says, “opportunities for African-Americans, for women, for minorities, for different people to make content” for filmmaking have exploded.
Help from broadcast services
Many of the Vineyard Festival opportunities have come from partnerships with cable and streaming services. Tavares Rance says that Showtime was an early sponsor, then HBO’s support made a big difference by recognizing “the vision of what we wanted to do. “They supported us and gave us content to show every year.”
Several other outlets are now participating, he says, and “we’re very proud that all these studios and broadcast platforms know that the audience they want to reach lives on Martha’s Vineyard and is coming to Martha’s Vineyard in August.”
Netflix, which he describes as a “huge partner,” is behind “The Child,” Margaret Brown’s documentary about the Alabama discovery, and its aftermath, of the remains of the last known ship to enter the United States illegally carrying slaves. The Africans will be screened at 8pm on Friday, August 5, after which Brown, Quest Love and producers Tariq “Black Mind” Trotter and Essie Chambers will be part of a Q&A.
At 8pm on Saturday, August 6, Netflix presents “A Blues Jazzman” with writer/director/producer Perry to discuss the story of 40 years of secrets and lies told to the soundtrack of “The Blues Common Joke.” Netflix’s third entry is a preview of the limited series “From the Beginning,” a cross-cultural romance starring Zoe Saldana, created by Atika and Tembe Locke, who will be at the festival for one of the “Color Talk” conversations with the TV host. . Tamron Hall.
Looking back:‘Switch the Lens’: Black Diplomats During the Cold War, a PBS documentary by a Cape Cod native
Other channels and studios presenting movies and series include Lionsgate, with its 25th Anniversary Legacy Spotlight at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, a screening of the classic “Eve’s Bayou” and a conversation with director Lemmons. and BRON Studios, with a 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6 screening of “Loudmouth,” Josh Alexander’s documentary about activist Sharpton, featuring him.
The Oprah Winfrey Network and ONYX Collective present the documentary series “HairTales,” focusing on the parallel journeys of black women with their hair and with self-love, on Friday, August 12 at 6:30 pm with guest Elise Ross as host. will show Executive producer. JBL SoundSessions will host a “Honk for Jesus” screening with Regina Hall “chat and Q&A” after 8pm on Thursday, August 11th. Save Your Soul, Adama Ibo’s comedy in which Hall plays the first lady of a large Southern Baptist church that must be rebuilt after a scandal.
Among the previews, at 8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8, are Peacock’s upcoming shows “Bel-Air” and “The Best Man: The Final Chapters,” connected to the “Black Excellence Through Legacy” panel. The panels will include actors Maurice Chestnut and Adrian Holmes. and writers and/or producers Malcolm D. Lee, Dayna Lynn North and Rasheed Newsom.
At 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8, the Boston Globe will show clips from A&E’s biopic of musician Bobby Brown, who will discuss his life and controversial career with director J.Kevin Swain and executive producer and wife Alicia Etheridge-Brown. did .
In a non-cinematic event, former US Attorney General Eric Holder will discuss his new book “Our Unfinished March” on suffrage at 6pm on Thursday, August 11. Other writers are also supposed to be connected in this city. film Festival
For full schedule of all events: https://www.mvaaff.com/.
Differences through technology
The festival’s lineup offers a wide variety of features, documentaries, shorts and talkies, and one of the main reasons Rance is available for more films and TV shows to tell these stories than 20 years ago is because technology is changing.
“I think even kids now have more opportunities to be inspired by what they see on TV, movies, and the Internet,” he says, and now they can create content themselves by filming and even editing on their cell phones.
Rance points to one of the documentaries shown this year: directors Kathryn Bernstein and Martin DeMomo’s “Sweet Black: Birth of a Black Hero,” a tribute to Melvin Van Peebles about the making of his feature film “Sweet Sweet Malicious Song” in It started in 1971. In the era of exploitation cinema
It’s amazing when you think about what (Van Peebles) had at his fingertips versus what the average 8-year-old has at his fingertips (now), right? Rance says. “They can literally play ‘Sweet Sweetback’s Badaass Song’ with their camera (phone).”
He notes that young people can easily and quickly show others what they create.
“It’s not just the rich, it’s the well-connected — anyone is now literally at their fingertips, where they can create content, edit, write, produce, and a free distribution medium like YouTube,” Rance says. or have Facebook. It can go viral and people can like it and can get opportunities from it.
Success in social networks
MVAAFF has experience in viral content online. Tavares Rance says that during the pandemic, it was Facebook employees who convinced them to host the festival’s content and conversations on the platform after resisting the idea of a virtual film festival. The founders of the festival say they are surprised by the huge response on social media.
In 2021:Celebrity Talk Films at the Vineyard African American Film Festival
“In the first year, we had more than 2 million visits, which is bigger than any film festival worldwide, and we thought, ‘This is great!'” says Tavares Rance. The recorded conversations with the directors met with a great response, as who spoke to the women of TV’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” which he said had more than 250,000 views, was “absolutely amazing.”
Run&Shoot is planning another virtual film festival via Facebook in October, offering a chance to see some films that didn’t make it to Martha’s Vineyard due to the busy schedule. After that kind of response from Facebook in the first year of the pandemic, Tavares Rance says, “We knew we were always going to have a virtual component to the festival.
Contact Kathi Scrizzi Driscoll at [email protected] Follow on Twitter: @KatiSDCCT.