First… rehashing changes I previously noted about the annual Shadow & Act Black Filmmakers To Watch series in the announcement I posted about 4 weeks ago, if only for those who missed it to catch up (you can skip the next 2 paragraphs, if you've already read them).
– Say goodbye to the once-every-12-months list of 10 to 20 filmmakers, and say hello to what will be an ongoing series, profiling black filmmakers who we feel deserve individual spotlights. Each week, we're introduced to the works of black filmmakers (and we're considering the entire diaspora, not just black American filmmakers) that impress us enough, suggesting the idea that something continuous, throughout the year, makes more sense, than publishing a single list annualy. We want to highlight as many filmmakers as we can, especially in this climate that sees only a handful of *black films* every year that enjoy anything close to broad awareness; and also, in part, to combat the notion that there isn't enough variety in what stories we can tell, and how we choose to tell them. I think we get so distracted and depressed about what we don't have, that we tend to forget to appreciate those who are toiling away in creative silence/obscurity. And I realize it's best to show who/what else is out there that we don't already know about en masse, or that we do know about, but, for one reason or another, aren't paying as much attention to, as we probably should.
– Second, unlike previous years, our emphasis will be on relatively *unknown* filmmakers; our goal is to highlight those filmmakers who are producing work (whether still in film school, making short films, or veterans who've been making films for years, and everything between), but just haven't quite yet been *discovered* if you will (of course that's a loaded word, because it could mean any number of things, to any number of people; but instead of listing specific criteria, I'll just let the posts speak for themselves); essentially, filmmakers we believe are creating interesting work, who haven't received much attention, and who we believe you all should definitely know about (if you don't already). There's a reason why I've repeatedly requested that filmmakers we haven't covered, contact us, and introduce yourselves and your work; it's so that we can get to know you, and your work, for this purpose (and others). I continue to encourage that STRONGLY! As I've said before, we try to stay as connected and informed as we can; however, we don't know of every single black filmmaker and every single black film in circulation, every year. We rely on you folks to assist in providing some of that knowledge as well.
So now that you know all that… here's the 4th of many filmmakers who will be featured in this new S&A Black Filmmakers To Watch format (thus far, Canadian writer/director Alfons Adetuyi, British/Zambian filmmaker Rungano Nyoni, and African American director Russ Parr have been profiled in the last few weeks).
This week it's someone that I think many of you will already be familiar with – Jackie J. Stone (photo left).
Given your reactions to her award-winning 20-minute short film, If I Leap, which we posted last year, I'd say that many of you were likely more than curious to see what the NYU alum, would do next.
Featuring the talents of names you should be familiar with – Adepero Oduye (Pariah), Anslem Richardson (Five Deep Breaths, The Locksmith), and cinematographer extraordinaire Bradford Young (Pariah, Restless City, Middle Of Nowhere) – If I Leap was an especially picturesque, moving, stand-out short film that deserved all the accolades it received, and a year later, we wait with bated breath for some kind of a follow-up – not to that film specifically, but just another glimpse of the scope of Ms Stone's imagination.
She relocated to Los Angeles, and has since been on a writing spree, with work aimed at all the platforms: TV, film, web, notably. Although it is a rough-and-tumble business, and Hollywood has demonstrated that it really isn't all that interested in stories that center around the lives of young black women, as is the case in If I Leap.
But maybe a recent boost, as in being recently selected as a participant for the 2012 Film Independent Project Involve Forum (Film Independent’s signature diversity program, dedicated to increasing diversity in the film industry by cultivating the careers of under-represented filmmakers) might assist in some way.
The program, which runs from October 2012 through June 2013, selects filmmakers from diverse backgrounds and filmmaking tracks. For 9 months, the Fellows are paired one-on-one with a mentor from the film industry, assigned to a team to make a short film incorporating a given theme, and attend monthly filmmaking workshops and other educational seminars.
It's a program that past filmmakers we've written about went through (who then graduated to make feature films, win acclaim in some cases, and carve out careers for themselves).
Opting to keep a tight lid on her projects, Jackie continues to write, and write, and write (a feature film, a web series, and more), and I'd say that it's only a matter of time before we are thrilled with another piece of art from this up-and-coming talent.
If you missed our post on If I Leap, and haven't yet seen the film, it's embedded below, so watch it in full now.
Zipporah, a sister in a religious order, is dealing with a secret about her desire for something she has never experienced — erotic love. When Luca, the nephew of the Mother Superior, seeks refuge at the convent after deserting the army, Zipporah engages in an intimate relationship with him that will change the course of her life.
Watch the lush 20-minute short film below: