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‘It’s My Life’ Atlanta Youth Film Festival

by share

It’s My Life – Fifth Youth Film Festival, organized by Peace by Peace

For youth ages 8 to 18

July 25, 7-9:30 p.m.

Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave., NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

Event registration online – $6.27 ($5 plus $1.27 online fee) for audience members; free for contestants and their guests

I came across the It’s My Life Youth Film Festival flyer at an Atlanta Word Works poetry slam last April. After seeing the well-designed flyer, I only wanted to encourage all of my filmmaking friends to enter — but not enter my own film because I thought I lacked proper supplies and knowledge of film terminology.

Many of my friends who create films are aware of the latest directors, have professional cameras, use film terminology as if it’s not a complex subject, and are well equipped with editing software. I, on the other hand, only paid attention to directors of independent films, can only film with my iPhone 5, know a handful of film terminology and only had experience with using iMovie.

Two days before the films were due, I decided that I would create something in response to everything that was happening on the news as it pertained to the slaughtering of my own people. After attending and reading about the marches that occurred in downtown Atlanta as of a result of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I came up with a topic.

As I walked beside people at the march one evening, I took notice of the words sprawled across the posters they held high in the air. I noticed some women were upset that when black women are mercilessly killed, their names seem to disappear off the radar very quickly. Many black women at the local marches expressed their discontent. Some of their signs read: “Say her name” and “Black bodies are not expendable.”

I began to ponder about Malcolm X’s speech “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself,” delivered in 1962 at Ronald Stokes’ funeral service (Editor’s Note: Stokes was a Nation of Islam activist killed in a controversial incident with police. Witnesses maintained that Stokes was unarmed and had his hands up when shot by police). This speech delved into how black women are the most disrespected and unprotected group in the the United States. With that topic in mind, I began working on my film.

The It’s My Life Youth Film Festival is unique because it is rare to hear about film festivals that are only looking for content crafted by kids and teenagers. As a person who might want to go into the film industry, I feel extremely lucky to have my film judged at such an early stage of my life. Usually when I envision showing off a body of work that I crafted, I imagined it will only occur when I am much older. A film festival dedicated to only showcasing works made by teenagers can be used as a platform for self discovery and inspiration for others.

Ten films are showcased on the festival’s website for the viewer’s choice award, but the event’s Facebook page notes 13 films will be shown at the event Monday, July 24. A personal benefit for me is that some of the other filmmakers also happen to be my friends, and we are all excited to support each other. This experience will surely be of use in the future when I work alongside others to create bodies of work that best exemplify everyone’s individual talents.

Sharah, 18, is a rising freshman at the College of Wooster who hopes to perform in Rocky Horror Show Live as Janet Weiss.

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