Representation matters. It matters behind the camera and in front. It matters in discussions of equity in communication. It matters because the power of media as a tool for the masses is discussed sparingly beyond viral videos, hashtag activism, and mainstream platforms for traditional reporting. It matters because people outside the halls of power should always be reminded that they, too, still hold it. So what does media access look like in communities where people have historically been othered and robbed of agency in telling their own stories? How will these communities change as the United States endures a very public and painful adolescence? What does resistance look like through the lens of narrative film? How do storytellers disrupt or simply do better than the previous generation? Is it still about upsetting the setup or creating something entirely new? Are there platforms for filmmakers of color to present original cinematic works outside of the heavily financed Hollywood system? Are those films, television shows and web series just as good as or better than what Hollywood produces? The answer, to the last two questions at least, is yes. As independent content creators and artists of color enjoy greater visibility, the old trope of “representation matters” has begun to resonate. Sandwiched between an increasingly violent socio-political climate and an artistic boom many are comparing to the great days of Harlem, filmmakers of color are assaulted by stimuli and charged with translating themselves and the pivotal moments of their lives in uncertain and arguably marvelous times -- marvelous if only because instability is one heck of a muse. Filmmaker, curator, and founder of the BlackStar Film Festival, Maori Karmael Holmes, has created an intersectional, feminist space for filmmakers of color to exist, converse and screen their creative output every year in Philadelphia. To speak, specifically, to the myriad experiences that define and inspire them. To explore the art of the moving image in all of its manifestations and take ownership of that. To show up. On the big screen, of all places. Hers is a movement that is not about jockeying for a seat at the table but building one. More concerned with creating community than grassroots activist work, her commitment to safe spaces for filmmakers of color has arguably made something as simple as going to the cinema into a revolutionary act.- Karas Lamb
Footnotes:1. Per Dorian Missick, he was held but never charged.