Best of Fest film showcase serves as exciting preview to upcoming Denton Black Film Festival

Best of Fest film showcase serves as exciting preview to upcoming Denton Black Film Festival

Best of Fest film showcase serves as exciting preview to upcoming Denton Black Film Festival
November 19
21:57 2017

The screen is lowered and the lights begin to dim as the speaker delivers a spiel.

The projection displays the motto of the hosting organization — “where a minority culture can be a majority experience” — and immediately, the minority culture behind these films has already started to resonate with the crowd.

The Best of Fest film showcased on Thursday at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center. The showcase is run by the Denton Black Film Festival, an event and self-titled organization that features work by black filmmakers, producers and animators to exemplify the amazing work done by artists from all over the world.

Best of Fest showed several short films throughout the course of its two hours, including “The Storyteller,” written and directed by Alex Emanuel from the United Kingdom, and “Remnants,” written and profuced by Al’lkens Plancher. The topic of racism and the effects it can have on people throughout their lives was addressed in many of the films.

“This is the fourth year of the festival, and our expectations are for it to keep growing,” said GiGi Johnson, co-director of marketing and public relations for DBFF. “This is definitely something that is iconic.”

The film festival has grown dramatically over its four years of operation, increasing from only 800 attendees in its inaugural year in 2015 to having 3,500 attendees in 2017.

“NBC 5 is one of our media sponsors this year,” said Linda Eaddy, director of film programming. “We are expecting 5,000 to 6,000 people this year.”

The team behind the film festival has grown significantly, and they have also expanded their capacity and sources for film.

“One of the things that changed almost immediately after the first festival was film,” said Mesha George, co-director of marketing and public relations and DBFF co-founder. “The film count has grown. We didn’t use to take submissions.”

The film “Jerico” won the award for best feature at the 2017 DBFF in January. The husband and wife team of director Seckeita Lewis and writer Brandon Lewis recently received a distribution deal for it. The producers of “Jerico” are gifting the winners of the 2018 award with a drone, which can be an incredibly helpful modern tool for filmmakers.

Although the DBFF occurs in January, the organization does not sit idle through the rest of the year. They work tirelessly to spread the word of their event.

“Having little events throughout the year keeps people interested in our main event,” George said.

The Patterson-Appleton Arts Center stays open later on Thursdays so local talent and organizations can use the space to have community events.

“Tonight is a free community screening, so it’s an opportunity for people to come in for free and get a taste of what we are and spread our name,” Linda said.

DBFF also has other events leading up to their main festival, including their Funk Fest Kickoff Party on Dec. 14 at Dan’s Silverleaf. They also host Building Bridges a week before the main event, which is designed to introduce people to the festival.

The Kickoff Party features musical performances, and Building Bridges is a family-oriented daytime celebration filled with activities such as face painting and dancing. As the event progresses into the evening, it transitions into more of an adult show with a DJ and dancing.

“It’s essentially a little party,” George said. “We want to make sure people have a good time.”

Another date fans of the festival will want to mark in their calendars is Dec. 15, which is when the DBFF will announce its full schedule and have tickets officially on sale. The festival will also have a Black Friday sale on their VIP passes from Nov. 24-27.

Best of Fest was full of films that not only tugged at the viewers heartstrings but also provoked deep thinking concerning the content of the films and race relations in society today.

“We had some really great films…tonight really just reinforces why we do what we do,” DBFF director Harry Eaddy said. “You see some films you wouldn’t ordinarily see.”

Most of the filmmakers showcased at the event are fairly unknown and are still up-and-coming, but that does not discredit the validity or quality of their films.

“The quality of these films is really good, and they’re really thought-provoking,” said Harry. “Being able to showcase filmmakers and look at their stories is really exciting to me.”

By going the extra mile of hosting additional events throughout the year, DBFF is continuing to garner more support and they hope to expand throughout North Texas.

“We want this to be a permanent part of the North Texas culture,” George said.

Featured Image: Audience members watch previous Denton Black Film Festival short films at Best of Fest 2017. Rachel Walters

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Austin Wagner

Austin Wagner

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