Author: Amy Nicole
Last weekend we attended the Blaktastik Film Festival which was held in Columbia, South Carolina. The festival was a three day event which incorporated film, art, education and music. As the name Blaktastik implies the festival primarily focused on contemporary and alternative black culture. My sister and I were able to sit down with the festival director Sherard Duvall to get more insight on the festival. We also briefly interviewed multidisciplinary artist Michaela Pilar Brown and recording artist/producer Fat Rat da Czar about their roles facilitating the event.
Director of Media Education at the Nikelodeon Theatre/ Blaktastik Film Festival Director
TDS: How did you come up with the idea for the festival?
SD: A film festival is something that I have always wanted to put together and Blaktastik has been 2 years in the making. I wanted a festival that targeted the younger demographic (ages 15-30), and how they are redefining blackness and what blackness means to them today. I wanted to combine film, art, music and education which is why I brought Michaela and FatRat Da Czar on the festival committee.
TDS: How did you go about selecting films for the festival?
SD: Honestly, I sat down with the interns, we watched trailers for the films and we either said yes or no. We selected films that focused on issues that people in the 15-30 demographic can still relate to today.
TDS: Tell us about the education aspect of the festival?
SD: For one of the education workshops we will be having an instagram competition for high school students where they will get cameras and create content for short films. The films will be shown for free on the last day of the festival. The festival will also include a workshop with artist-in-residence Time Spent, a video production group from New York City, that will work with college students from Benedict College to create several videos based on local musicians in South Carolina.
(Michaela Pilar Brown)
The opening night of the festival kicked off on July 23rd at Tapps Arts Center with the art exhibit “Searching For A Lullaby”. Multidisciplinary artist Michaela Pilar Brown curated the art exhibit which featured artwork from Roni Nicole Henderson and Pamela Burris. The exhibit was described as “an exploration of feminine signification: through personal histories, technology, and fantasy toward the creation of new mythologies and creation stories.”
In the artwork by Burris, she studied the isolation and loneliness of childhood by using 3D animation which embodied her memories of childhood trauma. Artist Roni Nicole Henderson combined photography and 3 short films to rebuild on the creation myth with women being at the center storyline.
The film festival screened several films which included: “Field Niggas”, “Girlhood”, “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty”, “Brother to Brother”, “Fresh Dressed”, and “Do the Right Thing”. We went to the screening on the first night of the festival and viewed the films “Girlhood” and “Field Niggas”. Girlhood was about a young teenage girl trying to find herself by joining a gang. The film takes place in the ghetto of Paris, France which was surprising to most viewers who don’t equate Paris with the hood or black people. The film Field Niggas focused on the lives of homeless people living in Harlem, New York; the film was very unique in that it was primarily filmed through photography clips with the subjects audio playing in the background. After the film was shown there was a Q&A session with the director Khalik Allah. Allah explained the title behind his documentary, saying that during slavery slaves were divided by either being a house slave or a field slave which started the early conditioning of black on black crime, making one group feel that they were superior to the other.
(Fat Rat da Czar)
On the second day of the festival recording artist/producer Fat Rat da Czar organized a free concert at the South Carolina State House. Some of the artists who performed included: H3RO, Paris Rose, and Brian the Violinist. The concert ended with Fat Rat performing with his own group Color Blind which includes group member Justin Smith.
(Fat Rat performing with his group Color Blind)
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the festival and we’re looking forward to seeing the growth of this event in the years to come!
Check out video footage from the festival on Double Scoop TV.