African American film festival at UT

February 20, 2019


To celebrate Black History Month, the Black Student Union has launched its very first African-American Film Festival which includes three nights of free films, scheduled to play in the Center for Performing Arts Building.


The second film screened, “Get Out,” a 2017 film written and directed by Jordan Peele, gained traction from critics when a black man entered the world of a white woman and her family for a weekend.


This horror film ultimately led to an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 2018, gaining 225.4 million dollars in box office sales.


Film Professor Holly Hey said 35 people showed up for the “Get Out” film.


“It was really fun and everyone had a great time,” Hey said.


Hey worked alongside the dean of the College of Arts and Letters, Sharlene Gilbert, to launch this initiative.


“We met over the summer and we talked about ways we could branch out our film program to include a broader population,” Hey said. “I’m really committed to bringing visibility to minority voices through film on campus.”


She said a diverse population should be represented in films across the country. “Especially black experiences,” she said.


“Black voices are extremely important to our history, not just black history but American History.”

Hey said the best way to get a broader understanding of black history is to allow black voices to be heard. “We are stronger when our voices are multiplied by different ethnicities.”



Hey’s mantra is broader voices, broader diversity and a better world.


“I’m excited that the film festival is happening,” Gilbert said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the film department to be able to showcase really amazing films.”


Gilbert said the amount of African-American representation in film has improved since when she was in college. “I think we still have a long way to go, but it’s exciting we have more African-American writers, directors and actors getting good roles and being able to tell all sorts of stories about the African-American experience.”


Gilbert mentioned “Moonlight,” the first film screened, a 2017 Academy Award winner for Best Motion Picture is about a young man’s life in Miami and how it’s guided by love and support from a community which helps raise him.


“Moonlight” is a brilliant film, Gilbert said. “In terms of the writing and acting, a very powerful film. Get Out was good, an interesting approach. It was funny, scary and a real combination of different things.”


Gilbert taught a class on women in film and has been busy since her position as dean, but is hoping to teach a class in the future. “Maybe in a year or so.”


Assistant lecturer at the College of Arts and Letters, Quincy Joyner, took part in making this film festival possible; however, he declined a request to share a few words about this initiative.


“We’re all very proud of this initiative,” Edmund Lingan, chairman of the Department of Theatre and Film said. He plans to create these types of initiatives that includes different ethnic backgrounds in film.


“I think anything that can highlight African American Films dealing with perspectives created by

African American artist is a great way to broaden the perspective of the university community.”


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