Film festival offers a new perspective on lives of black women
Local filmmaker Rosheena Beek is looking to make history later this month when she hosts the first Black Women’s Mini Video/Film Festival in Bermuda.
The inaugural event, taking place at Chewstick’s Neo-Griot Lounge on April 11, 19 and 26, is geared towards celebrating black women filmmakers and empowering women of colour.
Ms Beek said: “One of the reasons I wanted to host this film festival was because we don’t celebrate black women enough.
“I’m a film director myself and my biggest service to the community is creating films that are true to people’s lives. I will be screening my latest film ‘Before We Were Man’, which is the first film I have done exclusively from me to my community.
“The tag line is ‘What if you had the power to chose your mama?’. As you know our society is in need of healing and this film goes back to the fact of where we all come from and how sacred we are as women. I think the value on black women has been lost in the fray of commercialism and consumerism.
“Although mine is a short film, it deals with who we are essentially as mothers and beings higher than just this flesh that we know.”
In addition to Ms Beek’s film, ‘Daughters of the Dust’, the 1991 film by American filmmaker Julie Dash, will also be screening.
Ms Dash’s film was revolutionary for its time and shattered some of the stereotypes that people had towards black women filmmakers.
Ms Beek reached out to the American filmmaker through Facebook and was thrilled to get her permission to show the film.
“She was very proud to be part of this inaugural event because it has never happened before in Bermuda where we have had a black women’s film festival. She gave me her blessing.”
In addition to the films, art work from female empowering artists like Kendra Earls, student talent Zianna Rubaine and US-based artist Patrick Earl Barnes will also be on exhibit.
Three local trailblazers in the film industry will also be honoured during the festival — including long-time broadcaster Leola Stovell, as well as Venetia Mildred Manders-Richardson and Maude Joel-Fox, both of whom played the piano during silent films in the early 1900s.
“They are part of my legacy and I believe that as you go forward in life, you should always remember the people that brought you forward on your shoulders,” Ms Beek explained.
She first started delving in filmmaking in 2002. A man known as Tall Oak, a Pequot First Nationer, was visiting the island and Ms Beek was encouraged by friend Jill Bascome to take a camera with her to St David’s.
“I went and just started shooting and when I came back with the footage it floored Jill and she was like ‘No way’,” she said. “I had never picked up a camera before.”
Her first film called ‘Keepers of the Gate: Bermuda’s Reconnection of the Spirit’ went on to have an encore showing on ZBM.
She said she has been writing since she was ten years old, so film proved to be another outlet for her in story telling. Through her film production company Moja Co Productions she has been able to video international stars like Beyonce and Steve Harvey on their visits to the island.
Ms Beek said there was no greater reward than sharing stories and having people enjoy and learn from them.
She encourages people to come out to the festival firstly to be entertained, but also to get a new perspective on the lives of black women and in support of women filmmakers.
“The evening is just going to be filled to capacity with entertainment,” she said. Local singer Ashanti Caesar, aka Princess Black, will be performing on April 11; while Berkeley Institute student Marquedelle Philip Rodriguez’s film ‘Bermuda Was Another World’ will be screened on April 19.
On April 26, one of the highlights will be a performance by the African Dance Group.
Ms Beek’s nervousness hasn’t yet kicked in, but for now she is excited about the festival. “I’m still pretty calm because any production that I do because there is so much to do and I have to stay focused on it,” she said.
“I have been planning this event since January, so it will be nice to see the end result.”
Tickets, $17, are available from www.BDAtix.bm, Pulp & Circumstance in Washington Lane and Fabulous Fashions in the Heron Bay Plaza.
Part proceeds from the event will be going to Government’s Community Driven Development (CDD) Programme, which helps to train and empower women to get back on their feet and find suitable work.
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