So I just returned from the 10th Annual Hollywood Black Film Festival in Beverly Hills, California. The HBFF is Tanya Kersey's grand attempt to bring African-American filmmakers together, educate them and expose them to the industry. It's also her way of providing emerging filmmakers with the support and focus some may be lacking. I was honored to be selected as one of eleven semi-finalists in HBFF screenwriting competition. Now before I point out my concerns [because you know how I do], let me first say I had a great time. Tanya Kersey works very hard at collecting the industry's best and for six days festival-goers have access to who's who in black film and how to do it better.
However… there was a certain industry professional at the festival who, I believe, provided a disservice to emerging black filmmakers. I won't name names, but I will say this: I'm always suspect of white industry professionals who attend black film festivals and discourage original and provocative ideas from black artists and prefer to celebrate mediocrity. I'm always suspect of white industry people who celebrate their own eclectic tastes, but seems suspect of the same eclectic tastes when they come from black artists. That's my ONLY complaint.
With that said, there were three highlights for me at HBFF. Robyn Hatcher's script BORN TO PITCH, the true story of one of the first female Negro Baseball Leaguers; director Hanelle Culpepper's WITHIN, a chilling film about ghosts and intuitive children; and, of course, meeting Nichelle Nichols, aka the ORIGINAL Lt. Uhura from Star Trek. She asked me a question about the impetus of my screenplay and I answered with a big ole stupid grin.
Congrats again to Tanya Kersey and her Hollywood Black Film Festival.
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.