The Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC) hosted its 23rd Annual African American Film Marketplace (AAFM) and S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase during the MLK holiday weekend in Hollywood, California Jan. 13 thru 15, at the Harmony Gold Preview House and Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, California.
Opening to an overflow crowd with a “A Great Day in Black Hollywood,” Friday, January 13, at the Harmony Gold Preview House, the inspirational star-studded event hosted by actor/producer/director Wendy Raquel Robinson, celebrated the 2017 class of BHERC honorees. Professionals whose work in front and behind the scenes in the film industry as well as work in the community has been remarkable.
Producer/director Preston L. Holmes was presented the Ivan Dixon Award of Achievement. This award is named for the Emmy-nominated African American actor, director, and producer best known for his series role in the 1960s sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes”, television film “The Final War of Olly Winter”, for directing many episodes of various television series, his active role in the civil rights movement as well as President of Negro Actors for Action.
Colleague and friend Nate Parker, writer/director of “Birth of a Nation”, was on hand to present this well-deserved recognition to Mr. Holmes. In an especially moving presentation, Parker recited the resilience and talent of Holmes. He spoke of his firsthand knowledge of Holmes’ passion and commitment to his craft and his desire to be a strong, positive role model for other African Americans looking to be successful producers/directors.
Mr. Holmes has made significant strides breaking barriers as a veteran with 30 years’ experience as a director, producer, production manager and assistant television director on feature films, television movies and documentaries.
The evening was filled with excitement as Emmy Award-winning actor Glynn Turman took the stage to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Lillian Benson for her groundbreaking film work, longevity, and continued contributions to the film industry.
Ms. Benson holds the distinction of being the first African American woman to become a member of the internationally recognized honorary society of film editors the American Cinema Editors (ACE), where she serves as a member of the board. She is also a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the International Documentary Association.
Founder and film angel Sandra Evers-Manly recognized high school instructor and filmmaker Darryl McCane with the 2017 President’s Award in recognition of his tremendous commitment and dedication to teach the next generation of storytellers the craft of filmmaking.
McCane, a teacher for 29 years, has taught at Washington Prep for 13 years and has worked with entertainment business partners, the Black Hollywood and Education and Resource Center and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, to help build a program to allow inner-city students to have professional mentors as they grow academically and creatively. Many of Mr. McCane’s students are in foster care, have been incarcerated, and are living in single-family homes. Since starting at Washington Prep, he has raised over $1 million in scholarships and paid internships. More notable, he has increased the graduation rate for students who have studied in his class and was awarded by the LAUSD Career Technical Education department for having the highest retention rate in the district for two consecutive years.
Rounding out the Friday evening opening ceremonies was the introduction of the filmmakers taking part in the festival. As one of the first film festivals to screen diverse short films more than two decades ago, the S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase continued the tradition to spotlight the filmmakers on opening evening. This tradition keeps the artistry of emerging African American and diverse filmmakers front and center as the weekend of screenings and celebration unfolds.
“This is a festival with a purpose. We spotlight our screenwriters and film producers and provide the opportunity to display their creative talents and tell their stories about our struggles, success, and development in a way that feeds the mind, body and soul; to engage the audience and to stimulate critical conversations amongst themselves, the actors and directors around the dinner table. A table comprised of diverse attendees of all ages mixed with inquisitiveness, wisdom and wit,” states BHERC and FWAP founder Sandra Evers-Manly.
Selected from more than 1000 entries from all over the world, over 68 films were screened throughout the weekend at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, California. Directors, cast and crew were available immediately following each film to field questions from the audience.
These stories ran the gamut and included topics on Social Justice, looking deep into issues that inspire, challenge and entertain; Uncommon Women, compelling women-centered narratives, with female protagonists designed to appeal to a female and male audience; Loving, diverse films about issues of love and relationships of all kind; Documentaries set to stories based on the plight of the real world and real people; Comedy, written to amuse and heal the soul through laughter and Drama, intrigue, suspense and complicated characters presented in stories that portray realistic characters in conflict
At the BHERC Youth Diversity Film Festival, more than 200 students from across Los Angeles and Baltimore, Maryland came together to screen 23 short films written and directed by their peers addressing concerns and challenges faced by today’s youth.
“This year I was excited that we screened films to simulate young artist to think about robotics, technology and science, in addition to films depicting issues facing humanity today,” noted Evers-Manly.
Record attendance was noted again Saturday Evening at BHERC’s presentation of “An Evening with Films With A Purpose,” featuring the Premiere of two newly completed movies produced by Films With A Purpose (FWAP) at the Harmony Gold Preview House in Hollywood, California.
“Wild Roots”, a gritty 22-minute short film by first-time filmmaker, writer/director Sir Wormley received rave applause by viewers. The film focuses on the life of a reformed gang member who gets out of jail and wants to change his life around, but the “hood” won’t let him go easily.
The young filmmaker of “Wild Roots”, Sir Wormley, born and raised in North Long Beach, CA, was on hand to talk about his film and finding his passion for writing while incarcerated. Further telling the audience that since 2013, he has attended programs sponsored by BHERC, which inspired him to become a filmmaker. With little to no experience, his dream to take part in the festival came true. “Wild Roots” was written, directed and co-produced by Sir Terrell Wormley with Lionel J. Ball, Jr. as producer.
The second film that premiered, “Child Support”, written and directed by Alcee H. Walker was equally well received by a multi-generational audience. An 8-minute story showcased how young girls struggle to find emotional outlets through the lens of school violence. With bullying today at epidemic proportions, students in middle school find it difficult to focus on their classwork, preparing for high school, participating in sports, and extracurricular activities.
In this poignant film, the viewer is witness to how students are placed in the middle of their parents’ struggles and compete with their siblings for emotional support while simultaneously facing bullies at school. Notably, the cast was recruited through an Instagram post that drew submissions from all over the country. “Child Support” was written and directed by Alcee H. Walker with Sandra Evers-Manly as executive producer and Raymond Knudsen and Dawn Han as producers.
“Alcee H. Walker” is an African American film director from West Palm Beach, FL, who attended public schools of Palm Beach County and graduated from Inlet Grove High School in Riviera Beach, FL. After high school, Alcee attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY and graduated in 2011 with a BFA degree in Performance and Communications and a minor in Education.
Closing out the evening was an encore presentation of the first film produced by FWAP, “Forgiveness”. This story features a young man, who upon learning about slavery in his class, declares that the President needs to make a national apology for America’s involvement in slavery. This 25-minute short film was written and directed by Satie Gossett, a Los Angeles based writer, director, and producer.
Satie is best known for the comedic short film, “Jewtholic”, a religious comedy narrated by his father, Louis Gossett, Jr. He also directed Departure, a short film, which was featured at the MacWorld Conference in San Francisco. The film shot exclusively with an iPhone 4S screened at the Cannes Film Festival along with another of his short films, 10 Minutes, starring Glenn Plummer and Kent Faulcon. Satie completed this latest short film, “Forgiveness”, which screened at the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, DC, won awards at the 2016 Ocktober Film Festival and the 2016 Malibu Film Festival. The film has also been accepted into the 2017 Indie Night and Pan African Film Festivals in Los Angeles, CA., as well as the Toronto Black Film Festival, in Toronto, Canada.
The festival concluded Sunday evening after a full day of screenings with a sold-out crowd at the festival’s soul food Networking Reception, featuring a variety foods that originated from the African American Culture, great conversation and business connections.
Founded in 1996 by Sandra Evers-Manly, BHERC is a nonprofit, public benefit organization designed to advocate, educate, research, develop, and preserve the history and future of Blacks in film and television. Celebrate the artistry by supporting our filmmakers, with diverse topics, stories, techniques and broad themes multi-layered with humor, drama and reality.
For more information about BHERC log on to www.bherc.org or call. Join the First Weekend Club and find out how you can support diverse film making.