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Denton Black Film Festival virtually showcases Black creatives

Denton Black Film Festival virtually showcases Black creatives

Denton Black Film Festival virtually showcases Black creatives
February 04
11:00 2021

The Denton Black Film Festival hosted its seventh annual film festival from Wednesday, Jan. 27 to Monday, Feb. 1, but this year virtually due to COVID-19. Despite the change of location, the event was filled with activities showcasing Black cinema, music, art, spoken word, food and fashion.

The Denton Black Film Festival was an initiative created by festival director and Denton resident Harry Eaddy in hopes to bring more Black cinema to Denton. In 2014, Eaddy partnered with Denton residents Cheylon Brown and Mesha Green to develop the festival. Since the beginning, the festival makes an effort to provide opportunities for Black creatives who are often underrepresented in film and media, as well as financial aid in collaboration with the Denton African American Scholarship Foundation.

Proceeds from the festival go towards the Denton African American Scholarship Foundation, which awards African American students in Denton with tuition scholarships.

Fredrick Nichelson, festival music director and Denton resident, said the event going virtual served as an advantage for the festival and those participating.

“The fact that it’s virtual allowed us to reach out beyond those [who] showed up in person past years,” Nichelson said. “We can get somebody from Los Angeles or Chicago or wherever, and they can just submit the video. In some ways, being virtual has enhanced what talent that we can get. They don’t have to fly to Dallas and stay at a hotel, then come to Denton.”

The six-day event premiered short films, documentaries, international films, episodic/web series, narrative features, music videos, high school and college shorts by Denton and non-Denton residents. Aside from films, guests also participated in workshops, competitions, networking lounges, poetry and yoga.

Media arts seniors Donielle Conley and Malik Carey-Harpe’s film titled “BLM is not a trend” was selected to be a part of the Denton Black Film Festival. Conley said submitting their film in a festival for the first time was nerve-wracking yet rewarding.

“The perfectionist in us came out,” Conley said. “We were like, ‘Is this worthy of a film festival?’ and we were also tired, sleep deprived. It was just a lot of different emotions, but we really wanted to make sure that our story was shown and we knew it could be an impactful story because it’s the truth.”

Carey-Harpe said he used what he learned in class while creating the short film.

“The biggest thing I learned was to make mistakes,” Carey-Harpe said. “I’ve been hearing that a lot in my senior classes. They’re telling me to make mistakes while you’re here before you get out in the real world because it only allows you to grow.”

Adrien Neely, festival judge and workshop instructor, submitted his short film for the first time this year. Neely encourages anyone who has thought about submitting their film to do so without hesitation.

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good,” Neely said. “People stress so much about putting anything out there, and I think I’ve gotten to the point where I put my failures out, I put my successes out [and] I put everything in between out, just to constantly be doing something because if everything has to be perfect before anybody sees what you do, then nobody will ever see what you do.”

Denton resident and festival volunteer A. Paulette Griffin said the festival brings an Austin film culture to the city of Denton.

“When I first found out about the festival, I was like, ‘This is wonderful,’” Griffin said. “I feel like it brings all [types] of communities and cultures together to learn more about the Black experience. It brings in revenue, and I also think it kind of keeps Denton from being known as just the college town.”

In addition to the film fest, the Denton Black Film Festival hosts a plethora of events throughout the year.

“Our work is year-round — we tend to do workshops, seminars even film screenings throughout the year,” Nichelson said. “We’ll be doing things in April, May, June [and] throughout the year building up to next year’s festival, so don’t think that if you missed it this year that there’s nothing to do because we’re always looking for people to volunteer and engage in the festival.”

Interested individuals can find more information about the festival such as the Denton Black Film Festival institute, previous winners and upcoming events on its website.

Courtesy Denton Black Film Festival

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Daijah Peterson

Daijah Peterson

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