Co-founders of the Micheaux Film Festival celebrate five years: "We aspire to create a transformative experience"

Co-founders of the Micheaux Film Festival celebrate five years: “We aspire to create a transformative experience”

When college friends Courtney L. Branch and Noel Braham launched the Micheaux Film Festival five years ago, the event, designed to spotlight diverse and underrepresented creators, was limited to just one one-day event.

“Really,[we]just wanted to do this as a proof of concept to see if this is something people wanted, needed,” Branch said. The Hollywood Reporter. “And they responded in droves.”

The now weekly festival, which concludes on Sunday, is a testament to how much it has grown and the variety of projects involved. Main courses included Scrap, a film starring Vivian Kerr and Anthony Rapp about a homeless single mother; The good egg about a woman struggling with infertility who becomes entangled with a con artist; and the documentary Bad Things happen in Philadelphia on the effects of gun violence in the city.

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There is also a screening of Gran Turismo, the star of Orlando Bloom to be released on August 11th

“We aspire to create a transformative, non-transactional experience where (it’s like), ‘Hey, thanks for your movie, you know, have a nice day,’” says Braham. “We want our community to stick around after this because they have now become part of our family, both metaphorically speaking and literally as well.”

The Festival, which takes place in downtown Los Angeles and Culver City, is named after Oscar Micheaux, who is considered the first great black director. He released films starring black talent in the early part of the 20th century. Both founders say he was an inspiration for their vision.

“When we look at just Micheaux’s legacy, you know, from the 1920s to the 1940s, he independently directed, produced, and distributed over 44 feature films for him, and he did so while operating outside the traditional funding system. Hollywood commercial.” Braham said.

But while spotlighting black talent was important, the Micheaux festival was created as a platform for “all filmmakers, regardless of age, race, background or perspective to come together and celebrate their unique craft,” says Braham.

Some of the films at the festival include Diva, a story about what one would do to simply become a Hollywood star; the flowering, a film about the Olympic story of an animatronic flower destined to explode; Battle zone HMart, a project about creepy encounters with Asian women in a supermarket; AND Autopilot, by Jennifer Zang, which Branch describes as “amazing sci-fi, great visuals, really cool story. Very, very timely in regards to if the AI ​​decides to go crazy with us.

In addition to the film screenings, there are also debates, including one dedicated to creating social impact with cinema and another that teaches aspiring actors to make it in the business, especially people of color.

“We know that representation isn’t always exactly what we want it to be, but it’s really nice to be able to spotlight and show those who are breaking down those doors and breaking down those barriers and able to really pull it off,” Branch says.

The film festival also works with various homeless advocacy groups, such as Covenant House in Hollywood, to hire and mentor homeless young adults and show that there are more roles available to them than just a writer, actor or director.

“So really what we wanted to do was broaden their horizons and let them know and see and understand all the different opportunities this city has to offer within the entertainment industry,” says Braham, who has experienced the homeless when he first moved to Los Angeles.

“I had to live out of my car for a while. You know, I’m just trying to make ends meet and chase my dream,” he says. “And going from sleeping in my car and sleeping outside a hostel to now creating a whole platform and foundation that other people can now sleep on is a true full-circle moment that God has not only provided us with the right grace and ability to execute, but more importantly, just to keep his people warm and to really give back in a serious and sincere way.