Introducing Shreveport Urban Film Festival: A Talk With Tanesha Morris

Introducing Shreveport Urban Film Festival: A Talk With Tanesha Morris

Director / Writer Tanesha Morris recently created the Shreveport Urban Film Festival. This film festival’s mission is to showcase black talent from all over the United States in Shreveport Louisiana. From her Writer – Director debut with the short film Ruthless to launching Shreveport Urban Film Festival, Tanesha is determined to elevate the work of black filmmakers. Therefore, Black TV Film Crew jumped at the opportunity to talk with her. 

Though there seems to be new film festivals springing up all over the US, there aren’t a plethora of festivals in Louisiana. Morris explains the motivation behind creating the Shreveport Urban Festival. “I created Shreveport Urban Film Festival because I felt that there is opportunity lacking for African-American filmmakers to be seen and heard in the film industry. I have a passion for film and wanted to open a door not only for local black talent in Shreveport but black talent all over the United States.”

The Shreveport Urban Film Festival is registered on Film Freeway and still accepting submissions. This festival is offering prizes to the winners: $1,000 to the 1st place Short Film winner and $500 to the 2nd place Short Film winner. Morris allowed filmmakers to submit their films for free through March 31st, 2018 which gave many filmmakers an opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise. According to Morris, “I would like the filmmakers to walk away from SUFF knowing that they are valued and their voice matters. Their stories matter. I want them to feel like there’s a bend in the universe that welcomes them.”

Black TV Film Crew is a media sponsor of the Shreveport Urban Film Festival.

It’s always a joy to see filmmakers do more than write, direct and produce their own films. The film industry needs more people who are willing to help the industry move forward and not just watch their films and call it. Morris stepped up to the plate, “I know how it feels to be the only black writer/director in the room and I wanted to change that. There are more creators out there with unique voices but we have to be willing to give them a chance. With SUFF I wanted to give them the support they need no matter how big or small the platform. I am no longer asking for a seat at the table. I am creating my own table.”

Learn about Tanesha’s first movie, Ruthless, which happens to be a hip hop opera.

Rejection is definitely a part of filmmaker’s journey. But, Morris has some words of encouragement for all those filmmakers who may be nervous about submitting to film festivals. Morris cheers on our filmmakers, “Do it anyway! You might hear 100 no’s before you hear 1 yes but that’s okay! The point is to keep trying. Keep shooting. Keep putting your work out there!”

To follow the Shreveport Urban Film Festival on Social Media: 

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If you have a new film festival that is targeting black filmmakers, let us know.

Film Critic Tim Gordon Introduces Lakefront Film Festival

Film Critic Tim Gordon Introduces Lakefront Film Festival

MEET TIM GORDON, FOUNDER OF THE LAKEFRONT FILM FESTIVAL

Tim Gordon, Film Critic, President of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association and Founder of the Black Reel Awards, has created a new venture: The Lakefront Film Festival. Gordon is taking 20+ years in the entertainment business and providing a forum to filmmakers of all backgrounds.  The 2018 season will be the inaugural session for the Lakefront Film Festival which will be held in Columbia, MD in July.

Why did you create the Lakefront Film Festival? 

I wanted a film festival with my imprint on it. It will be a user friendly festival where filmmakers come to this festival and feel validated. I want all filmmakers to know that we’re playing on a level playing field. I thought through a lot of the small touches in order to create a foundation and a culture. As a film critic, I’m uniquely built to do what we do with this festival: teaching and curating.

Why Columbia, Maryland to host the festival? 

The city was built on diversity and just celebrated its 50 year anniversary. I was able to get the local city government behind us and brought a lot of talented people to the mix. They have a huge facility here and we’ll use 13 venues in four days.

How will the Lakefront Film Festival be different from other festivals? 

There will be a strong presence of African American films and other ethnicities as well. We’re creating a good culture for the festival and I bring background and history. I want everything to be top shelf. I’m trying to cultivate different audiences and we may play a movie more than once.

DIVERSE MOVIES NEED OUR SUPPORT

What triggered your love of movies? 

My first mentor, my father, was a huge film fan. Being as young as 5 years old, I remember having plenty of conversations with my father around movies. I was never interested in movies as an actor or a director but I always saw movies as someone behind the scenes. When my father worked at the Newark Star Ledger, I would go into this room of old newspapers and I loved history and looking back.

I was in the military and I would go to the movies on dollar day. I was the guy who could always review the movies. I gained that reputation. People would say to me, “I know you saw the movie.”

Tim Gordon

Film Critic / Film Festival Founder, Lakefront Film Festival

 

Why have you been so vigilant in your support of black movies? 

I can’t really explain why I was so passionate about movies. But, I remember being 27 years old and reflecting about To Sleep With Anger with Danny Glover and also The Five Heartbeats movie. During that time, 1991, 1992, when the films came out neither of them made a lot of money at the box office. But I thought, ‘there has to be a way that someone can be a liaison between Hollywood and the community.’ That’s how my newsletter, The Renaissance Review, was born. And, I loved award shows as a kid. It always bothered me that strong black films were overlooked. I thought to myself, ‘we need to validate.’ So, I created the Reel Black Film Awards.

Gordon takes his passion and love for movies and creates MUCH NEEDED outlets for the community. The Lakefront Film Festival is currently accepting submissions. To learn more about Tim Gordon and his initiatives, please check out the sites: Lakefront Film Festival and Black Reel Awards, as well as his personal site: Film Gordon.