Local film festival
showcases film diversity

CeCe Peniston and Jubbya Seyid from TV One in a discussion about the TV One documentary, Unsung: CeCe Peniston, at the International Black Film Festival. Photo by Justin darden

CeCe Peniston and Jubbya Seyid from TV One in a discussion about the TV One documentary, Unsung: CeCe Peniston, at the International Black Film Festival.
Photo by Justin Darden

Hundreds of people from across the country gathered in Nashville to view a wide variety of films and documentaries at the seventh annual International Black Film Festival held Oct. 31-Nov. 2 at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The film festival gives people an opportunity to view films that have never been seen before in movie theatres and gives people a chance to meet the people who were involved with the making of the film. The festival started off with the advanced screening of the feature film The Best Man Holiday, the sequel to the 1999 blockbuster film The Best Man. The movie tells the story of college friends who reunite during the Christmas holidays after 15 years. IBFFN founder Hazel Joyner-Smith said in a press release that she was happy to see a major motion film company bring the film to Nashville.

“We are beyond excited that Universal Pictures selected IBFFN as one of its screening locations,” said Joyner-Smith. “Even as we were selling the festival to Universal Pictures, we had to also demonstrate that Nashville is a burgeoning market that has an energetic and diverse audience to support a high profile, studio film of this caliber.”

Also highlighting the IBFFN was the premiere of the TV show Truth Hall, which is based on the movie of the same name. The movie was about five women who knew each other in college and get together for a wedding and discover that each woman has a secret that originated in Truth Hall, the college dorm they lived in. In the television show, the women are out of college, married and have careers. Jade Jenise Dixon, the show’s creator, said that when it came to converting the movie into a television show, the writing had to be changed but she was able to adjust.

“The writing process was much different. You have to abide by certain guidelines. You have to make sure that you did 30 minutes or 60 minutes, and I had to learn that,” said Dixon. “So, it was a little difficult, but I caught on pretty quickly.”

Dixon said Truth Hall is different because of character development and the secrets they carry around after college graduation. The movie character’s issues have matured. Their life experiences are different. Dixon said the characters are presenting themselves as what people want them to be. In the television show, the viewer gets an opportunity to discover who they really are.

Another feature film highlight of the festival was the movie Solstice based on the true story of a woman who is in a relationship with a man who has a dark side to his personality. She finds herself verbally and physically abused, altering the love and feelings she had for her boyfriend. One of the stars of the film, JoAnna Rhambo, said she decided to do it because the story evolved from a personal story of domestic abuse as a reflection of her own life. Reggie Gaskins, the director of the film, said that he wanted to do the film because of her courage to tell this story.

“I wanted to do all I could to ensure that everyone who sees this film could feel what she felt,” said Gaskins, “and that audience members who have abusive tendencies could see parts of themselves in the antagonist’s character so that they could see clearly that verbal and physical abuse is never necessary in a relationship.”

A number of documentaries also premiered at the IBFFN, including the television documentary Unsung: CeCe Peniston telling the true story of R&B/Pop star CeCe Peniston and her life growing up. It includes her rise to music stardom and some of the personal struggles she had to go through. It also gives music fans a personal look into the problems she had in her musical career. Director of programming for ‘TV One’ Jubbya Seyid said that the problems Peniston had in her life give music fans a unique perspective into her life experience. Peniston said that she had some reservations about doing her documentary, but the people at TV One convinced her that doing it would be something to share with her fans.

The International Black Film Festival is proud to announce the award recipients for its seventh annual IBFFN:

Best Feature — Home (Jono Oliver)
Best Long Documentary — Melvin and Jean (Maia Weschler)
Best Short Documentary — True Delta (Lee Quinby)
Best Dramatic Short — Ying and Yang (Kevin D. Walker)
Best International — I Live to Sing (Julie Cohen)
Honorable Mention — 24 to Score (Jairus Cobb)
Audience Choice — The Exchange (Robert Poole)
Founder’s Award — Sweet, Sweet Country (Dehanza Daye Rogers)
Best of Festival — Home (Jono Oliver)

For more information on the above films and filmmakers, including all official selections and to view 2013 festival photos, visit www.ibffnashville.com