Tuesday, January 18, 2011

African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM)

To say film publicist and filmmaker, Ava DuVernay, is busy is an understatement. Her latest project and directorial debut, "I Will Follow," hit the film festival circuit last year and now will become the first film of a a new movement, the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM). I know what you're thinking, "That's a long title, but what does it mean?"

AFFRM is DuVernay's vision to address distribution issues many indy black filmmakers face. According to a NY Times report, her plan is have black films or black themed films screened in commercial theaters for two weeks through the indy film program started last year by AMC Theaters. The program, called AMC Independent (AMCi), brings indy movies to multiplexes usually reserved for Hollywood studio films. To create buzz about these films traditional and non-traditional means including social media will be used.

"The films will not be a part of normal festival programs, but will screen in all cities simultaneously with promotional backing from the festival organizations, which will share in revenue," states the article.

Those festival organizations include LA's Pan African Film Festival, New York's Urbanworld Film Festival, Philly's Reel Black Film Series, ATL's Bronze Lens Film Festival, and Seattle's Langston Hughes African American Film Festival. Chicago, Boston, and Nashville are expected to be added along with another film.

So why is this important? To put it bluntly, Hollywood ain't checking for indy black films nor does it do the best job of marketing and promoting them in my opinion. And before some of you point to Tyler Perry's success, remember his films are distributed through Lionsgate and even he has complained of the lack of screens his films are provided. Not to mention his audience followed him from theater into films. And remember Spike has complained for years about his difficulties trying to get his "joints" made and distributed through traditional Hollywood means.

If Tyler and Spike are having issues imagine what it's like for those lesser and unknown black independent filmmakers. The system's one factor, but the other is the audience. For this movement to be really be successful, WE who claim to love and support black film MUST SHOW UP! BUY TICKETS, DVDS! EMAIL, TWEET, BLOG, FACEBOOK! In other words support these films financially as well with our own resources, but most importantly LEAVE THE DAMN BOOTLEGS ALONE!

To learn more about the state of black filmmaking and read DuVernay's comments, please read the rest of the NY Times article.


jd_motownwest said...

Great piece compiling all the news, Alice. I agree our people have to do their part and stop with the bootlegs! But every trip to the barbershop and cornerstore tell me that distribution method is, sadly, alive and well.

ellenoir1@aol.com said...

Yes and sadly some of us that actually work in the industry support bootlegging too. Sometimes we are our own worse enemy when it comes to the business of filmmaking.

For many black movie go-ers, if there's no special effects or real high end production elements, the first thing we say is.."I'll wait for DVD." Going to the theater isn't the first thought anymore.

Thus there's no point in the black audiences complaining there are no black films on the big screen, nor getting award noms. Why pay for theater screens when the records show we'd rather sit at home and watch?