BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP
The Black Women Film Network (BWFN) celebrated 20 years this past week. They pulled out all the stops to celebrate during their Annual Black Women Film Summit, a 3-day event to learn, network, and explore. The Summit kicked off at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum in Atlanta on Thursday night with a screening of FOX’s new 10-week series SHOTS FIRED, scheduled to premiere on March 22 at 8pm.
Shots Fired reunites Reggie Rock Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood who are the creators, writers and executive producers with Love and Basketball star Sanaa Lathan, who stars as Ashe, the flawed but savvy investigator who works to help prosecutor Preston Terry (Stephan James) get to the truth of an incident during which a black cop shot a white teenager in a small town. Check out the trailer:
Friday’s “Untold Stories” Award Luncheon held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis kept the momentum going. The luncheon was a vehicle to honor several individuals whose work and careers have either inspired or paved the way for women of color in film and television. Honorees included “Creative Power Couple” Award recipients’ Dondre Whitfield and Salli Richardson-Whitfield. Also recognized were Industry Award recipients’ Will Areu, Vice President of Tyler Perry Studios and Ozzie Areu, President of Tyler Perry Studios. The Trailblazer Award recipient was none other than Tichina Arnold, while the Rising Star was awarded to Teyonah Parris, and the Founder’s Award went to Donna Lowry, Veteran broadcast journalist and 20-year BWFN board member.
During the luncheon four college students were also awarded scholarships. Recipients were Danielle Boyd (NYU), Atiara Brown (Atlanta Technical College), Sarah Griffin (Atlanta Technical College), and Ariel Jones (Louisiana State University).
Following the luncheon, the Reel Sista Talk panel, moderated by former honoree Shante Bacon, took center stage. Honorees engaged in a transparent conversation about their lives and careers. Panelists included Salli and Dondre Whitfield, Donna Lowry, and past honoree Terri J. Vaughn.
The Summit came to an exciting close on Saturday with a busy day of workshops, panels, a book festival and film screenings. Choose ATL presented the last panel of the day, Secrets from the Set: Showrunners, Writers and Actors Take You Behind the Scenes of Hit TV Shows Produced in Atlanta. 135th Street Agency CEO Shante Bacon moderated a very informative conversation with Greenleaf writer/executive story editor Erica Anderson, Saints and Sinners showrunner Ty Scott and If Loving You is Wrong actress April Parker Jones.
The Summit closed out with awards for the winning films from the BWFN-BronzeLens Film Festival Screenings:
Miss Winn’s Garden-Best Audience Participation
Director: Shanalyna Palmer
Producers: Shanalyna Palmer, Lucy A. Fazey, Brenda Porter, Sishan Palmer, Barbara-Lee A. Palmer
Brazilian Wavy-Best Comedy
Director: Kirk Henriques
Producers: Kirk Henriques, Yusef Muhammad, Jasmine Burke, Chet Brewster
Director: Mike Michaels
Producers: Winsome Sinclair, Don Saint, Julia Vilnet
Sista in the Brotherhood-Best of Festival
Director: Dawn Jones Redstone
Producer: Roberta Hunte, PhD.
The 3-days spent at the Summit were truly a time of learning new things, networking with new people, getting advice from industry professionals and growing.
The Black TV & Film Collective a 501c3 organization that operates as a NYC film collective. In our work, we support all artists of color including but not limited to black filmmakers. We are a collaborative platform that represents diversity in film and supports inclusion in Hollywood and TV. Our professional network of New York City filmmakers gives knowledge to those who want to learn how to produce film, how to make a web series, how to budget film projects and more. We host NYC film workshops that welcome a variety of experience levels from first time filmmakers who are either students in film school or to notables within the television and film industry. See how you can make a difference in the world of cinema by becoming a member of our NYC film collective.