The film festival showcases independent films and has workshops for filmmakers of all experience levels. February 21-23 at L.A. Live.
By Megan Reed
In 1919 Oscar Micheaux became the first African American to produce and screen a feature-length film that was shown in “White" theaters. He went on to be a pioneer in the filmmaking industry, as he wrote, directed, produced, and distributed over 44 feature films.
In the spirt of Micheaux’s ground-breaking accomplishments, filmmaker Noel Braham and producer Courtney Branch created the Oscar Micheaux Film Festival in 2019.
“He financed all of his projects, and he was a pioneer of his time,” Braham said. “Kind of like a form of Tyler Perry, where he just didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. He created his own lane. What’s beautiful about his legacy and story is that he wanted to speak to race relation films, and he really wanted to bridge the gap between polarizing worlds that otherwise would never come together. Rich and poor, Black and White, rural and urban.”
The weekend festival will feature screenings from independent filmmakers, workshops on various aspects of the film industry, and networking events.
The workshops will be led by industry experts who will guide filmmakers through a series of technical classes.
“We want to supply people with the opportunity of being able to get an understanding of how to take a concept through the process of writing, shooting and cinematography, raising capital for your film, editing and post production for your film, and marketing and distribution,” Branch said. “People can learn and understand all of the different challenges that it takes to get things off the ground, and how to do them well effectively.”
These workshops are designed for filmmakers of all experience and skill levels, from novices to people who have created independent films.
“We really want to provide attendees of all backgrounds and experience an opportunity to further learn and hone their craft, and for those who are trying to get a better understanding and comprehension of what it’s like to take all of the different aspects that go into an idea, and then taking it through post production,” Braham said.
Braham and Branch ensured that the films that will be screened at this festival come from a diverse background.
“A big reason why we created the festival was because we felt that it was important to not only speak to Black history and Black films, but also encapsulating multiculturalism as a whole,” Braham said. “We often see how diversity is being promoted as a mechanism of propaganda. We wanted the festival to reflect the world that we live in today, and not just preach and promote diversity. We want the festival to truly practice it.”
There are also networking opportunities at this festival.
“A lot of being successful in this industry is based on who you know and how you know them,” Branch said. “That can lead the way to what you can do and what you can learn. There will be plenty of opportunities every day of the festival. You can meet somebody that you can possibly create your next project with.”
Branch also said that it’s not just about networking with people above your experience and skill level, but it’s also great to network with others who are on your current level so that people can grow together.
This festival is also great for people who are not in the film industry. Professionals who do business with people in the film industry can also take advantage of the networking opportunities, and people who just enjoy watching independent films can have a great time.
“If you like going to the movies, if you like discovering cool storylines or you just like the entertainment and thought-provoking content, then this festival is for you,” Branch said. “And with the networking mixers, even if you’re not in the film industry, you’ll still be able to meet people who are, and people who can help you in your career. You’ll be able to meet film professionals and executives.”
The festival’s title sponsor is the Emma Bowen Foundation.
“They are an amazing organization that places people of color in internship opportunities with Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 media outlets,” Braham said. “This nonprofit organization is supported by Oprah Winfrey and Robin Roberts. We are so happy to be working with them because a lot of the principles that their organization holds align with the principles of the festival.”