Cultural Greatness in the International Black Film Festival

Nashville is known for many things. We have the Tennessee Titans, who are fighting to make the playoffs. We have the Nashville Predators, who just started and are doing well so far. And then there is country music, where people who aren’t from Nashville know this city the most for. In Black Nashville, the city is known for Tennessee State University, Fisk University, hot chicken and Slim and Husky’s. One thing the city of Nashville should be known for, however, is the International Black Film Festival.

The festival was started over 14 years ago by Hazel Joyner-Smith with Hazel’s daughters, Ivy and Ingrid Brown, responsible for executing the operation of the festival the last fourteen years as well. It is truly a family affair with one goal in mind according to Ingrid. “Our goal is to make it about telling stories and giving people access and opportunity to tell their stories because a lot of times, Black people are boxed out and blocked out of opportunities.” She continued, “So, we wanted to provide a venue for filmmakers, content creators and even the community to be a part of the process.”

(l-r) Ingrid Brown, Hazel Joyner-Smith, Ivy Brown (Photo by: Charles Putnam)
(l-r) Ingrid Brown, Hazel Joyner-Smith, Ivy Brown (Photo by: Charles Putnam)

The film festival brought over 40 films this year, including the premiere of Black and Blue and the movie Foster Boy. Along with the films, the festival also brought Black and Blue director Deon Taylor, actor Woody McClain, actress Gabrielle Dennis and casting director Twinkie Byrd just to name a few gracing Nashville with their presence.

The film festival gives chances to those who are trying to break films, but it also provides an educational piece to it, with McClain, Dennis and Byrd answering questions and Taylor having a question-and-answer session after the showing of his film Black and Blue. Not only did each of them answer questions, but they inspired young filmmakers and actors from Belmont and Tennessee State University that were at the event.

The event put together by Joyner-Smith and her daughters is not only a star-studded event, but an event that is educational, thought-provoking and inspiring. And in creating this event, a legacy has been built. A legacy of building, growing for our people and in Black people taking control of the creative processes in filmmaking.

Many people talk about the HBCU’s in Nashville and their importance, but the International Black Film Festival is a class in its own right. It provides the opportunity to see Black people in control of our own stories and it also provides the platform for filmmakers, actors and actresses to share knowledge and help one another reach their dreams.

All of this happening in the city of Nashville and all of this spawned from the mind of Hazel Joyner-Smith.

Here is the list of award-winners from this year’s events

– Best Long Documentary: Two Beats, One Soul
– Best Short Documentary: Beating the Odds
– Best Narrative Short: First Day Back
– Best Narrative Feature: Foster Boy
– Best Animation: Discharged
– Best of the Festival: Foster Boy
– Best Social Justice Film: The Talk
– Audience Choice: Loreen’s Gotta Boogie
– Best International Film: Tuition (Canada)
– Honorable Mention: Saving Billy
– Best Inspirational Film: E:60 :Identity: The Deland Mccullough Story
– Best Student Film: Skin I’m In
– Best Web Series: CHI-nanigans
– Best of Tennessee: The Past is Prologue
– Best Children & Youth Film: What if…then what?

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