Hello.... This is your festival director Gian Smith. Allow me to speak plainly.
1. The Black Film Festival of New Orleans, has just completed its third year, BFFNO has been created with the intention of highlighting American film makers, and content creators of color. While we personally enjoy movies of all types, by all types, we wish to highlight films and content more relatable to our experiences. As a film maker, often times I feel like the nuance, importance and brilliance of my own film making and the films of my black colleagues has been lost on audiences and evaluators who simply don't relate to our personal experiences as black people in the United States. Through my festival experience I have found that my best results have come from audiences catered to me by festival directors and teams who could understand my content. So in that vein I felt it important to give yet another outlet for the black filmmaker to be recognized.
2. In most of my festival experiences I've found that there is an underwhelming amount of attention given to festival participants who are still yet largely unknown. While I have networked and found support amongst my peers, I haven't always felt like the festivals themselves have done a great job in catering to the film makers without the prestige. That won't be the case with the BFFNO. Every film maker will be treated like they're Spike Lee when they arrive for the Festival come December. (For the record I'm a Spike Lee fan so that means good treatment lol) The festival is a celebration of you and your film and you deserve to be treated that way. Which leads me to my next point...
3. As a filmmaker I know that the most important thing we expect from our festivals is an opportunity to reach new audiences, access to people in positions of authority to get our film or project to the next level, and being popular at parties for doing a great job in making a film. While I can guarantee there will be plenty of networking opportunities with other film makers of color I wouldn't in good conscience promise you any industry insiders. This is the first BFFNO and we're still building here. Give us about 5 years to get on the map and I'll have some executives from Netflix and HBO coming to see your film. But I can damn sure give you those parties.... every night. The main reason for this endeavor is because as a life-long resident of the greatest city in the world I considered it a travesty that we have no film festival here celebrating people of color. Every black person in America should experience New Orleans, including and especially the film makers. Your all-access filmmaker pass will put you at the center of nightlife for one of the world's most famous cities. My background in film is only preceded by my promotional career in New Orleans. During our four day event you will be given the key to the city of New Orleans. Certainly more fun than whatever snowed in city you'll be in otherwise come late December.
Give us a shot and build with us as we try to become the premiere film festival for people of color.
At our Jazz brunch awards show we'll be recognizing the best films and the best performances of the festival. Our specially customized awards will be given in the following categories.
Best Short FIlm
Best Web content
Best New Orleans project
(For individual awards, Web content and shorts will be considered together. Features will have their own individual awards, and documentaries will be separate where applicable and in categories indicated by asterisks.)
Best Actor & Actress
Best Director *
Best Cinematography *
Best Music/Sound *
Our Tristen Edgerson Young Filmmaker award includes a $200 award in recognition of the dearly departed. Any college aged or younger filmmaker qualifies.
Anyone may submit to Black Film Festival of New Orleans. Obviously your chances of being accepted to the festival increase greatly the more people of color who are involved. So if you're a non-poc make a film by, about and with black people and You'll be much more strongly considered.
Everything else is pretty standard. If you submit a 12 minute film as a feature you obviously won't be getting in, so submit as a short. If you don't own the rights to all your material, then get them and come back next year. If we get your submission and it doesn't look, sound, or seem like something you would proudly submit to Sundance I'll be offended you thought you could get over on us and you obviously won't be accepted. Easy right?