NYWIFT’s AfriAmerican Immigrant Screening: Local Stories, Global Themes — Madeline Johnson reports

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

nywift logoIn Astoria’s historic Kaufman Studios, filmmakers from the African diaspora shared local stories that reverberated deep into universal themes and questions as part of New York Women in Film & Television’s (NYWIFT) Women Filmmakers: Immigrant Stories screening on May 31, 2018.

Featured in the fourth season of this NYWIFT series highlighting narrative and documentary films about the New York immigrant experience, these short films tackled issues ranging from the #MeToo movement to President Trump’s travel ban, and from the immigrant experience to what it means to be American, among many additional and compelling topics.

Personal Stories

Take for instance director Iquo B. Essien’s Aissa’s Story – a proof of concept short film about an African housekeeper who was sexually assaulted by a powerful hotel guest.

“It’s a David and Goliath story,” Essien noted, “[her story] split a lot of communities.”

Nominated for the 2013 Student Academy Awards, Aissa’s Story is a multi-layered exploration, delving deep into the emotional terrain Aissa navigates and questions as she seeks to regain control of her life. In a world and industry reeling from the #MeToo movement, fumbling for a way forward after dark truths are laid bare, Aissa’s Story has a lot of wisdom to share.

Focus on Politics

Also showcased was America Heard: Refuge of Hope. Part of a series of short films produced from every U.S. district directly after the 2016 presidential election, this five minute film explores what it means to be a refugee living in Syracuse in Trump’s America.

What does Trump’s presidency mean for refugees who have already resettled in the U.S.? For the varied communities and people shaping America, how does this presidency change who we are and how we understand ourselves?

America Heard: Refuge of Hope was released the day after Trump’s travel ban was announced. At the screening, producer James Boo speculated aloud – how does the meaning of this film change as America changes?

“Feelings may change about what the film is here to do and what it means,” Boo wondered.

Takes on New York Life

Finally, Addie & Addy, a collection of sketches of “two weirdo Nigerian-American roommates living their best life in Brooklyn, NY” explores finding your way, honoring your past, and understanding yourself. Through comedy that pokes fun at life’s absurdities, it gently explores what it means to be Nigerian, American, black, young and 20 years old, and all of the intersections in between. As producer and actor Wunmi Fowora noted that black women are often seen as “combative” in the media, Addie & Addy sought to explore how these characters can “get as many nuances.”

Additionally, director and actor Adenike Thomas specified that in order to bring their project to life, they sought creators who connected with the subject matter. “You get more subtleties,” Thomas highlighted.

L to R: NYWIFT producer Easmanie Michel , Wunmi Fowora (Addie & Addy), Adenike Thomas (Addie & Addy), Iquo B. Essien (Aissa’s Story), James Boo (America Heard: Refuge of Hope)

L to R: NYWIFT producer Easmanie Michel , Wunmi Fowora (Addie & Addy), Adenike Thomas (Addie & Addy), Iquo B. Essien (Aissa’s Story), James Boo (America Heard: Refuge of Hope)

Each film screened contained a strong and distinct point of view, not often readily found in mainstream media. But in the words of Essien, being a director means “holding true to your vision, even if no one will support you. I have that.”

NYWIFT’s Women Filmmakers: Immigrant Stories series continues through June. For more information about upcoming screenings, please check out NYWIFT’s events calendar.

About NYWIFT: New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) advocates for equality in the moving image industry and supports women in every stage of their careers. As the preeminent entertainment industry association for women in New York, NYWIFT energizes women by illuminating their achievements, presenting training and professional development programs, awarding scholarships and grants, and providing access to a supportive community of peers.

Now in its 40th anniversary year, NYWIFT brings together nearly 2,500 women and men working both above and below the line. NYWIFT is part of a network of 50 women in film chapters worldwide, representing more than 15,000 members. NYWIFT produces over 50 innovative programs and special events annually, including the Muse Awards for Vision and Achievement, which honors women in front of and behind the camera, and Designing Women, which recognizes costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists in the industry.

Learn more at www.nywift.org and follow @NYWIFT on all social media platforms.

About Madeline Johnson: Madeline Johnson is an award-winning screenwriter and director who has written three feature and ten short scripts. Her debut short film “Juneteenth” was an official selection of the Prague Independent Film Festival, the Budapest Short Film Festival, and the Crown Heights Film Festival – as well as winning a Platinum Reel Award at the Nevada International Film Festival in the student competition. She holds two B.A. degrees from Yale University. In 2016, she graduated from FAMU International’s Academic Preparation Program in Directing. Madeline is currently finishing final drafts of two feature scripts and developing an interactive episodic serie

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×
explore: | | | | | | | |