Urbanworld Film Festival (September)
Founder: Stacey Spikes
Urbanworld is always dear to my heart because it’s so close to home. Fall is approaching, New York weather is just right, and just a hop, a skip and a jump on the 2 Train and you’re right in the heart of NYC. Stacy Spikes’ Urbanworld Film Festival stays true to its name. It’s a mixture of the A-list actors of Hollywood, the best Indie producers and directors and the public supporting these magnificent indie films. Even with hundreds of attendees, registration is organized and the festival staff is on point, constantly ensuring that any changes in programming are noted. AMC’s 34th Street theater is turned into a red carpet venue with stars, press and lines of fans. Somehow, though, it manages keep its down-to-earth feel. What more can you ask for?
I could go on and on about the films at 2010’s Urbanworld, but there were so many, I wasn’t able to see them all. Here are just a few that stood out among the others:
Grace (Steven Mondesir) – This short leaves the audience wanting a feature. A man (Alexander C. Mulzac) dealing with an unresolved issue from the past is forced to deal with someone (Loren L. Hankin) from his past who seems to have a knack for stirring up drama. Both lead actors give phenomenal performance through a culmination of lessons in understanding compassion, unyielding character flaws and healing. From their initial encounter, to the small exchanges of dialogue, you can almost watch this film without words and still feel the characters.
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I Will Follow (Ava Duvernay) – In this film we experience a day in the life of a woman (Salli Richardson) mourning her beloved aunt, who she lost to cancer. As someone who lost a family member very dear to me to cancer, I could relate to the different emotions of blame, sorrow and yearning the different characters experience. I Will Follow purely captures what happens to a family as one of its members dies and after their death. It shows how relationships are often formed, broken and eventually mended in the process. Life and love are questioned, but spirit keeps everyone alive. Starring: Omari Hardwick, Michole Briana White, Tracie Thomas, Beverly Todd.
Katrina’s Son (Ya’ke Smith) – This film was heart-wrenching to watch, but you couldn’t look away. After the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, Ed (Herman Whitney III), a young boy, sets out in search of his mother, who hasn’t raised him, but has always promised one day she’s come. He represents the faces of so many of Katrina’s victims and shows how even though America has forgotten the victims, they are still experiencing the after-effects today. Smith has a knack for films with a heightened political and social consciousness. They cater to the humanity in people and the situations we all see from the outside, but choose whether we want to become involved or look the other way.
*Other Festival Favorites: Katrina’s Son (Ya’ke Smith) Night Catches Us (Tanya Hamilton), Good Intentions (Morocco Omari), Cuts (Rashaad Ernesto Green), Katrina’s Son (Ya’ke Smith), The Lottery(Madeleine Sackler), The Inheritance (Robert O’Hara), Grown in Detroit (Mascha Poppenck and Manfred Poppenk)
To see more photos go to Events http://www.neoblackcinema.com/festivals-events/