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Black Film Festival needs support

The second annual Gary International Black Film Festival held Oct. 5-7 at Indiana University Northwest continued the growth process for founder and Gary native Karen Toering and her committee members.

While the weekend crowd was not standing room only, people came with a purpose to enjoy watching films that are unlikely to see major movie theater screens.

I applaud Toering for coming up with the idea to bring a festival to Gary. I’ve heard stories from older citizens of Gary about film festivals of decades goneby so it is refreshing to have a revitalization of sorts here.

But we as citizens must support this effort so the festival can grow. Toering and her local committee now know that the next film festival should not be shown during Circle City Classic weekend, although a handful of citizens chose to support the festival instead of trekking to Indianapolis.

Like Circle City Classic, a momentum needs to build for this local film festival. We, especially African-Americans, are always having the conversation of not enough black films with black actors and directors in movies that represent us beyond thugs, prostitutes, etc. Or that there aren’t enough films that have a purpose or promote discussion afterward.

Publicity for this year’s event was major; I gave the festival plenty of column space, beginning months ago with a call-out for local filmmakers. Local radio stations held interviews with Toering and at times, veteran actor and director Robert Townsend, whose film was shown opening night of the festival.

Other media outlets including social media talked of the festival. All three days should have been packed with patrons holding $50 weekend passes or at least a $10 ticket for one film.

Since attending film festivals with local flavor, including an event held earlier this year featuring Gary native William L. Johnson, now more than ever I will support independent films by African-Americans, starring African-Americans and other minorities.

Why do we always have to depend on Denzel, Tyler, Terrence, Angela, Will and Jada to buy tickets to the movies? I love them, don’t get me wrong, but there is nothing wrong with fresh faces, whether writing, directing, starring or producing.

Townsend, whose latest film “In the Hive” was shown during the festival opening Oct. 5, praised Toering for bringing the festival here.

“This is a beautiful thing! I love seeing all of the people and Karen … praise Karen for bringing a venue here that allows creative artists to show their work. We have positive films that people can enjoy because of festivals like this one,” Townsend said.

I mean, this is what we want, right? Visit www.garyblackfilmfest.net to start up support for next year.



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