Will All The Black Creatives In The Room Please Stand Up?

Dear Columbus Black Creative Community,

This is my love letter to you. For you. Because of you.

You, are magnificent. Your talents and varied styles are often imitated, but never duplicated. While your visions and powerful storytelling skills are needed, you’ll rarely hear they’re wanted. (Black Art?! Whaaaaaaat?!  That’s a super revolutionary thought…)
I know the going gets tough, and yes fam, the struggle is hella real, but never doubt your abilities, position in the community, or grace.  Imagine how we could truly change this city if we forged ahead without searching for approval.  We need our own spaces, our own funders, our own festivals, our own councils and committees.

Columbus is…complicated, to say the least.  As someone born and raised in this small city with dreams of being more than it is, I’ve watched it change many times over the years. It’s not quite as supportive and forward thinking as some would have you believe.  Is there hope and promise?  Sure.  But I’ve seen too many amazing creatives have to leave Columbus because of the lack of care, honest interest, and let’s face it, money.  I’ve *almost* moved away myself many times over, even as recently as two months ago, but there’s something about my hometown that keeps me staying…for the time being.

So, know that you are powerful.  Know that you can make it on your own.  Ask for a seat at the Table? Nah fam, we BUILT the Table.  As such, you have the power to question those in “positions of authority” (I.E., those who have the money), and hold them accountable for their actions; just like they do you.  Trust me when I say your proposed endeavors are often met with many questions, a thousand side eyes, and major doubts–one’s not given to local white artists.  We, as local Black Creatives, can reserve the right to criticize these money holders perpetually until they truly do right by our community. Believe me, they need you a hell of a lot more than you need them.  Raise your own funds, seek monies from other sources, look outside of local, regional, & national boarders.  Be true to your craft always. Don’t worry about offending, bow & scraping, or begging.  I don’t know about you, but I most certainly do not shuck and jive.  It almost seems as if they don’t like black people and all the ways we can show up (and show out), unless it meets a respectable standard.

Do you fam. Be yourself 100% of the time.

Continue to walk like you have 3,000 ancestors walking behind you.

Àse.

Love,
BCM

Drum Roll Please…

What a fantastic film festival weekend.  Congratulations to all filmmakers who presented at the first annual Columbus Black International Film Festival!  What a great addition to the city’s creative landscape.  If you’re a part of the local Black creative community, I don’t have to tell you about the unequal representation, unfairness in grant-making, and downright ignorance and lack of support for our artistic endeavors; so, having an entire weekend event dedicated to Black Excellence was not only needed, but more than welcome.  Bravo Cristyn Steward.  We can’t wait to see what CBIFF 2018 brings.

CBIFF Winners

Quicker Than A New York Minute

Well, I’d like to be able to say I’m surprised Cheryl Boone Isaacs is no longer the president of the Academy, but sadly, that is not the case.  More to the point, is there still anyone out here in Black and Brown communities that truly admires the work and recognition of the Oscars?  Since when have they done right by us?  Although, I must admit, I was elated when Boone Isaacs was elected president; it seemed to be what was needed at the time (What is still needed at this time).  However, nothing really changed.  Brown bodies were still disproportionately represented on screen.  Our award numbers stagnated.  Unfortunately, even in the 21st century she undoubtedly faced much adversity carrying the title of first African American woman to hold this position.  I just wish it lasted that much longer.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs is an American film marketing and public relations executive. She has represented the Public Relations Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), known for its annual Academy Awards (Oscars), on the AMPAS Board of Governors for 21 years as of 2013. On July 30, 2013 she was elected as the 35th president of AMPAS.  Boone Isaacs is the first African American to hold this office, and the third woman after Bette Davis (who served only two months) and Fay Kanin (who served four years).

Oscars

MEDIA CONTACT
publicity@oscars.org

August 8, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JOHN BAILEY ELECTED ACADEMY PRESIDENT

LOS ANGELES, CA – John Bailey was elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tuesday night (August 8) by the organization’s Board of Governors.

Also elected to officer positions by the Board:

  • Lois Burwell, First Vice President (chair, Awards and Events Committee)
  • Kathleen Kennedy, Vice President (chair, Museum Committee)
  • Michael Tronick, Vice President (chair, Preservation and History Committee)
  • Nancy Utley, Vice President (chair, Education and Outreach Committee)
  • Jim Gianopulos, Treasurer (chair, Finance Committee)
  • David Rubin, Secretary (chair, Membership and Administration Committee)

Bailey is beginning his first term as president and his fourteenth year as a governor representing the Cinematographers Branch.  Gianopulos, Kennedy, Rubin, Utley were re-elected to their posts.  This will be the first officer stint for Burwell and Tronick.

Bailey’s cinematography credits include “Ordinary People,” “American Gigolo,” “The Big Chill,” “Groundhog Day,” “As Good as It Gets,”  “The Anniversary Party,” “The Way Way Back” and “A Walk in the Woods.” In 2014 he received the American Society of Cinematographers Lifetime Achievement Award.

Academy board members may serve up to three consecutive three-year terms, while officers serve one-year terms, with a maximum of four consecutive years in any one office.

For a full listing of the Academy’s 2016-17 Board of Governors, click here.

# # #

ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 8,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is under construction in Los Angeles.

FOLLOW THE ACADEMY
www.oscars.org
www.facebook.com/TheAcademy
www.youtube.com/Oscars
www.twitter.com/TheAcademy

COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT
8949 WILSHIRE BOULEVARD | BEVERLY HILLS, CA 90211-1907
(310) 247-3090 TEL | (310) 271-3395 FAX | PUBLICITY@OSCARS.ORG | WWW.OSCARS.ORG/PRESS

Be Inspired: Cristyn Steward

  1. Tell us about yourself. How long have you been a filmmaker?

I am a Columbus native and I have been making films for about 7 years. My background is in creative writing, more specifically, poetry creative non-fiction and screenwriting. I studied film San Francisco for many years before I returned home to Ohio to help create more spaces for local filmmakers for thrive.

  1. Do you focus on a certain genre?

Drama, suspense and comedy are my favorites. I am still learning comedy, I am not that good at pacing yet, but I am getting there. I mostly just love delving into compelling story.

  1. What is the best part of your work?

Freedom. Being able to work at something that I wake up and I am passionate about. I also enjoy the networking, screening films that wouldn’t have been seen locally otherwise, the constant opportunity to be creative and being able to maintain a growing platform to advocate for other filmmakers like me.

  1. Why did you develop the Columbus Black International Film Festival (CBIFF)?

After getting my master’s in San Francisco I was exposed to niche film festivals of all types. I was also noticing from afar that Columbus was expanding support of the arts, so upon my return home after graduating, I was disappointed that black film was still being underrepresented at the local film festivals that I was attending. To every problem there is a solution, and I wanted to start helping solve this issue. So, I sought out my mentor and fellow filmmaker Mark A. Cummings and discussed film festivals and our experience and, with his encouragement, I decided this is something that can definitely be possible and successful in Columbus. And then I got to work and quickly noticed that there were many people in the community that were feeling the same way and luckily support for this idea soon poured in.

  1. How can the community get involved with CBIFF?

We need people who are willing and committed to volunteering and want to help uplift the voices of black artists through film. We are also looking for people to spread the word in any way that they can. This is the first year and we want to make sure everyone in Columbus knows this film festival is happening. We need everyone to share about the screenings on social media, help push the message by word of mouth or do us a favor and pass out a few of our flyers.

  1. Can you speak about some of the films you’ll be showing?

CBIFF will be screening nearly 30 films representing the black experience from all over the world. There are several timely films being featured about our current political climate, including, a short film called “Aftermath,” about the day after Trump was elected. We also will be featuring the popular documentary, “parTy boi: Black Diamonds in Ice Castles,” that has been making an impact on the festival circuit lately. It’s about the rise in crystal meth use among the black and Latinx LGBTQ community. The film’s director, Michael Rice, will also be sitting in our #BLACKMEDIAMATTERS panel. We also will be showcasing the documentary “Panomundo Part 1: The Evolution of the Steelpan,” a film that delves into the fascinating story of the creation and cultural importance of the steelpan in Trinidad. Local film prodigies The Turner Brothers will also be joining us and brining their latest award-winning film “Pseudo,” which takes a special look at police brutality and racial injustice. We were very lucky to get so many amazing films for our first year. Folks can see the full schedule at www.columbusbiff.com.

  1. What do you hope to achieve with CBIFF?

My hope is to give a unique platform to marginalized filmmakers in this community, and to help put some of the control of the black narrative back into the hands of those living the experiences. We also hope that this will start a movement in Columbus and will lead to a growing space where black media representations can thrive.

  1. What is the long-term vision for the festival? Do you partner with other companies and events in the city?

We hope that this will spark an annual renaissance and will eventually become a staple statewide and nationally for black film. We also hope to double our submissions in the coming years and expand the festival to a week-long series of showcases and workshops hosted in various neighborhoods throughout the city. The support this year has been overwhelming. Many institutions and organizations have lined up to support our efforts, including Wexner Center the Arts, Film Columbus, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Columbus College of Art and Design, The Ohio State University Film Studies Program, among many others. We hope that we can continue to build on some of those relationships and we continue to invite new relationships. One of my personal goals is to partner with other black film festivals throughout the country and create a network that supports us all.

  1. Do you have any films in the works at the moment? What are you focusing on? Who is your audience?

I have been working on a couple of screenplays for a while, one feature and one short. I am considering filming the short film later this year. I also have a second book of poetry I was working on early last year that took a backseat to my last short and now CBIFF. I am hoping to pick that back up sooner rather than later. My audience is pretty broad. Leaving Columbus and coming back years later, I am forced to recreate my audience. I don’t think Columbus really knows me as an artist yet. They know I am an advocate for black film and I am creating a platform for filmmakers locally and aboard. So, I hope to show Columbus how I fit in on both sides of that coin.

  1. How does one survive as a creative in a city like Columbus?  Are spaces and sources needed specifically for Black creatives to thrive?

In small towns filmmakers survive by any means necessary. By doing whatever it takes to create and share their work. I think it’s first important to note that as a black creative in Columbus, black artist supporting other black artist is integral, for many reasons. We have tons of emerging artists in this city who need support, and we have visionaries, like myself, who also need support. What I am creating with this festival is not just for me, it’s for all of us. It’s to combat the erasure and revisionist history that our stories succumb to.  The support does not always need to be financial, though it helps. We need electricity to make art, right? But time is a big one. Black creatives need guidance and mentorship, and that is how we get access to resources, and grow our audiences. We need spiritual and emotional support. Say a few kind words, pray on our behalf, light a candle, gift some sage, take note on how our ancestor took care of our elders, or didn’t, and help cultivate a growing community. Finally include ALL of us, by any means, and do so with good intentions.

  1. If you could meet anyone in the world dead, or alive, who would it be, and what would you say?

Wow, I have not had to think about a question like this in a while. As cliché as this may sound, I would have to say Oprah Winfrey. And I wouldn’t speak or ask questions, but I would watch and takes notes. If I did decide to speak at any moment I would simply beg for a job at OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network).

  1. Who is your inspiration/role model?

Right now, it’s anyone who speaks life into me and transmits positive energy. Planning an event of this magnitude is not an easy task. As for artists, I have been listening to a lot of JAY Z and K.dot. They are discussing wealth in the way that Mobb Deep and Dead Prez used to use hip-hop to elevate the community. It pumps me up and makes me want to press toward the mark of the high calling. Creating this platform, writing influential work and introducing film to children in the community.

  1. What are your passions?

Wow, that’s a loaded question to ask an artist. I am passionate about people, black people specifically, controlling the black narrative, black independent film, black television, black web series, good health, writing, writing, writing…

  1. Define yourself in one word.

Passionate

 

Thank you Cristyn, it was an honor speaking with you.

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