LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Ester Iverem best describes the Arkansas Black Independent Film Festival (ARBIFF). For the last 6 years, executive director Wayne Burt and co-director Angela Burt modestly began their quest in Little Rock - as a forum showcasing independent films - with positive messages and historical significance written and produced by Black filmmakers.
"When we look at art and culture as it connects with us in the last twenty years, we have to recognize that we have experienced a third Black arts renaissance, following Harlem in the 1920s and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960's. This current blooming-which one Washington, D.C. group of artists calls the Golden Age of Black Art-consists for me of four major streams: the explosion and dominance of Black popular music and its impact on video, fashion, street culture; the building of Black media such as BET; the maturing of the "new wave" of Black film, and the presence and†continued influence of veteran artists and institutions ... ," Esther Iverem, author of We Gotta Have It: Twenty Years of Seeing Black at the Movies, 1986-2006 (Thunder Mouth Press, 2007, page 9) - said about how Black America define itself in the arts.
Since there were no venues in the greater Little Rock areas showcasing such films, the Burts together created the ARBIFF.
They have promoted media literacy; encourage dialogue about the roles in Black communities; encourage cross-cultural exchange; emphasize important historical events in African/African American History; and foster solidarity among people from the African Diaspora who struggle for change. The Burts also believe that positive Black films will define the character of African Americans - a "strong" and "proud" people who respect and love their heritage!
The first festival, held on the campus of the historically black college, Philander Smith, located in Little Rock, Arkansas, highlighted historically significant films such as: SANKOFA, All Power to The People, and The Spook Who Sat by the Door. Special guests included Sam Greenlee, the writer and co-producer of The Spook Who Sat by the Door. The following year ARBIFF extended into a two-day event. That year's featured film was REUNION, written and produced by Arkansans and filmed in Hot Springs, AR. The festival marked the films debut and in attendance were many of the film's cast members. As a special tribute, the writer and producer of the film presented awards to family members portrayed in the film.
Wayne is a Black talk-radio host and community activist. Angela also hosts her own radio and online talk shows. She is the creative force for AngelFace, her modeling company as well as a professional makeup artist and events consultant, in the greater Little Rock area. Angela's creative background combined with Wayne's political savvy, result in a dynamic and unstoppable team.
Knowing the importance of celebrating their heritage throughout the†year, they created ARBIFF to be the vessel that removes negative stereotypes replacing them positive imagery, reshaping minds and opinions while educating and entertaining a diverse audience. The motto for ABIFF is"Celebrating Black Culture and Awareness through Black Film." Wayne and Angela continuously give praise to the Creator for the inspiration that molded their entire endeavor.
This year, the Burts will feature their 7th ARBIFF on September 6-9, 2012 and the theme is "Image is Everything." The festival will be held at four venues in Little Rock's Black community: Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, Philander Smith College, Arkansas Baptist College, and Dreamland Ballroom. The venues will feature screenings of films by Black filmmakers, including MK Asante and Julie Dash, who will also conduct workshops.
Here is the ARBIFF 2012 schedule:
Thursday, September 6, 2012, 6 p.m.
Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
Opening Night/Red Carpet Event
Screening Winning Feature Film
Friday, September 7, 2012, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Philander Smith College and Arkansas Baptist College
Screening Selected Features, Shorts and Documentaries
11 a.m.-7 p.m.
MK Asante screens The Black Candle
7 p.m. at Philander Smith College
VIP Reception 9 p.m. (Invitation ONLY)
Saturday, September 8, 2012 10 a.m.-5:30p.m.
Screenings 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Arkansas Baptist College
10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at Philander Smith College, Kendall Hall
Directing/Producing/Writing Documentary Film
MK Asante, 10 a.m.-Noon at Philander Smith College, Kendall Hall
Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust screens Noon at Philander Smith College, Kendall Hall
Directing/Producing/Writing Feature Film
Julie Dash, 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. at Philander Smith College, Kendall Hall
Acting for the Camera Workshop
4-5:30 p.m. at Philander Smith College, Kendall Hall
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Awards Ceremony 6 p.m. at Dreamland Ballroom
Curtis Tate Tribute
Screening Winning Documentary Film