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FEATURES Jul 8 2012 10:53AM
Founders Stephanie and Floyd Rance

Bringing Light to Diverse Filmmakers: The Marthas Vineyard African-American Film Festival

by Kristin Braswell

TM.com chatted with Martha's Vineyard African American Festival founders Stephanie and Floyd Rance about the history of the festival and its exciting offerings. The weeklong event (Aug. 7- Aug. 11) will include screenings and dialogues with some of the film world's most innovative and diverse artists. For more information about the festival, and a list of screenings, visit http://www.mvaaff.com/

1. How did the idea for the MV African American film festival begin?

The festival idea was conceived in our apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Floyd was in the film business and I was in entertainment - we always wanted to do something together so we merged our passions and came up with this idea - not original of course, but what is!  We knew there was a need for this and felt it was our calling to fill the void.

2. What types of films do you all look for to premiere?

We are first and foremost a film festival for independent AA filmmakers.  We look at story flow, acting and production. We screen studio releases as well but our core is the independent filmmaker.

3. How do you hope that this festival will help filmmakers of color to
get their stories out?

It already has! A lot of our films have been shown on HBO, actors have gotten work via the festival and Saatchi has hired one of our Alum filmmakers for their artist in residence program that they do with the film festival.

4. Many people would not think Martha's Vineyard as a center of film. Why did you choose this location?

It is a destination film festival - MV has a rich AA history that many do not know about.  There are a lot of prominent AA that vacation on island in the summer - Our crowd is a laidback, highly educated and successful crowd.  No pretense or flash in MV.

5. What are some of the highlights of this year's festival?

We are screening a new documentary by CNN on the voter issues that are taking place in Florida. HBO will screen a piece. Stanley Nelson (MV summer resident and award winning documentarian) will screen his piece on Jesse Owens. True Blood actress Tanya Wright will premiere her first directorial debut at the festival. Hill Harper did a powerful short that we will debut. S.Epatha Merkerson will screen her documentary as well- we also have 63 OUTSTANDING shorts, features and docs that will screen.

6. Five years from now, in what direction would you like to see the progression of this festival going?

Next year we will be doing another film festival in Charlotte, NC called The A-List, We also have the Color Of Conversation series we currently do with Macy's. - We just want to keep giving back and help filmmakers of color succeed.


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