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New BOCA Black Film Festival opens in South Florida

Erick Johnson | 7/17/2014, 9 a.m.
The inaugural Boca Black Film Festival opens this weekend to showcase the talents of local professionals in film, TV and ...
The cast of the film Spyderwoman the Kiss of Death will showcase their talents at the inaugural BOCA Black Film Festival

The inaugural Boca Black Film Festival opens this weekend to showcase the talents of local professionals in film, TV and cinema arts.

Held at Palm Beach State College, the festival will include panel discussions, film screenings and educational workshops. The festival is open to the entire South Florida community and neighboring areas.

The three-day festival will be held July 17-19. It will provide an array of activities for youths seeking to gain knowledge, information and insight into the entertainment industry. In May, the festival held a scriptwriting competition for aspiring Black film makers.

Each day at the festival has a theme to support the Boca Black Film Festival’s cinema arts & education mission. On Thursday, July 17, from 5– 8 p.m., the “Culture, Heritage & Legacy” theme will play out with a panel discussion, short films and a special screening of the documentary Oscar Micheaux: The Czar of Black Hollywood.

On Thursday evening, legendary filmmaker Frank Eberlingm will share his short documentary piece on Florida’s Zora Neale Hurston who was an author, folklorist and storyteller with writings and recording on the oral culture of the South, particularly, rural Blacks. She was closely connected to the Harlem Renaissance and yet, epitomized the struggling artist. She died destitute in Ft. Pierce, and remained in an unmarked grave for more than 10 years. A young Alice Walker became enamored with Hurston’s works and purchased a headstone in 1973. Oprah Winfrey produced Hurston’s seminal work in African-American and women’s literature, “Their Eyes were Watching God,” as a made-for-TV adaptation starring Halle Berry in 2005.

“There’s a lot to be learned throughout our collective almost 100-year history of filmmaking, from race films to Black films to where do we go from here,” said Lizabeth Martin, Festival Founder & Director. “Our history is American history and we need to continue to use this medium as a form of artistic and cultural expression for the next generation.”

On Friday, July 18, “The Grit & the Grind” will provide a number of sessions to reach a diverse young and adult audience of aspiring actors and filmmakers at the Boca Raton Marriott. There’s the middle and high school student on-site scriptwriting competition, the “For Kids Only Guide to Prepping for a Great Audition” and a session on animation basics and storytelling & pitching essentials. A local talent agency will share do’s and don’ts, and a casting agent will share firsthand how actors are selected for films. A photographer will speak and offer tips about professional headshots.

With a range of offerings that cover many aspects of cinema arts & education, scheduled speakers and panelists include: Dr. Tachi Egwu, filmmaker and professor, NOVA Southeastern; filmmaker Frank Eberling; actress Deltoiya Goodman; Patricia Ruiz Medina, student journalist and intern, CBS 48 Hours; film lover Michelle McKoy, founder of the Caribe Arts Fest and newcomer McKinson Souverain, the ABFF 2014 Webisode Challenge winner. Panel discussions include Black Images in Film, Women in Film & TV and To Be Young, Driven and Black Male.

The opening night special screening celebrates the groundbreaking works of Oscar Micheaux. The executive producer of the Oscar Micheaux documentary, Frances Presley Rice, will share the intricacies of the Florida-based company’s documentary work. Micheaux was revolutionary because he used motion pictures to communicate and create, and portray Blacks in a greater complexity. In the early 1900s, Oscar Micheaux single-handedly raised capital with small donations (like today’s Kickstarter or Crowdfunder) to produce independent films that portrayed educated Black Americans and yet, covered issues within race and society.

The Boca Black Film Festival is the premier creative arts and educational film fest that specifically celebrates and champions independent film works created, designed and inspired by persons of Black heritage. The organization strives for authenticity and originality in promoting and screening film works. The Boca Black Film Festival celebrates the imaginative, organically grown, perspective that is uniquely Black American.