“Hats Off” to Tanya Kersey who is the founder and executive director of the Hollywood Black Film Festival (HBFF). She has kept her dream and that of others alive and thriving through her vision of presenting a Black film festival available for established and emerging filmmakers, and storytellers for who live and breathe Hollywood.
Now in its 13th year, the Hollywood Black Film Festival is celebrated as the “Black Sundance” because of it depth of presentation, and recognition of those who participate in the festival.
HBFF was founded by Kersey, with a goal of playing an integral role in discovering and launching independent films and filmmakers by bringing them to the attention of the industry, media and public. Since its inception in 1999, HBFF has screened a total of 721 independent films including 132 features, 382 shorts, 108 documentaries, 73 student films, 14 animated films and eight music videos, from all across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and the Caribbean. It has held 339 world premieres, 13 U.S. premieres, 91 West Coast premieres and 59 Los Angeles premieres. More than 50,000 people have attended and enjoyed the diversity of Black Cinema through the festival. Not bad for a sister with a vision.
This year’s Hollywood Black Film Festival is outstanding for a variety of reasons. Ever changing to keep up with today’s movie-making trends and advances, earlier this year Kersey announced the partnership between HBFF and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. As a result of this partnership, an initiative designed for those individuals who have their heads ‘in the clouds,’ so to speak, will give them an opportunity to try their hand at scripting Sci-Fi movies. The initiative is called Project Stargazer: Developing Diverse Sci-Fi Movies for the 21st century.
Project Stargazer is a competition for screenwriters and filmmakers to create a sci-fi filmed entertainment project featuring NASA technology. It will provide writers and filmmakers from diverse communities with new resources to tell science fiction stories that capture science facts resulting from NASA science missions. The goal of Project Stargazer is to identify great science fiction story ideas and encourage emerging visionary screenwriting talent from diverse communities.
There’s a lot going on at the Hollywood Black Film Festival this year—73 films including Film Diaspora which features 11 films from eight countries; Project Stargazer sci-fi contest, panels and pitch competition with NASA; a storyteller competition, live staged reading from the three finalist scripts with celebrity actors; 12 finalists perform at Twinkie Byrd’s Monologue Slam with celebrity guests; the HBFF Beauty Lounge where you can get pampered with mini-services including hair, makeup, nail and lashes; and a Comedy Sho’ Down where actors perform in front of a panel of industry executives. And then there are the nearly two dozen panels and workshops, the opening and closing night films and parties, and daily happy hours.
Visit the HBFF website at www.hbff.org and check out the trailer for the closing night film starring Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, and Jordin Sparks in Codeblack Films’ “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete.”
It’s a beautifully observed and tremendously moving film about salvation through friendship and the way transformation sometimes can happen just by holding on long enough. During a sweltering summer in New York City, 13-year-old Mister’s (Skylan Brooks) hard-living mother (Jennifer Hudson) is apprehended by the police, leaving the boy and another youngster, 9-year-old Pete (Ethan Dizon), alone to forage for food while dodging child protective services and the destructive scenarios of the Brooklyn projects.
You won’t want to miss the Hollywood Black Film Festival, Oct. 2-6. To learn all you need to know from a complete schedule, registration and to purchase passes visit www.bhff.org.