Glimpses From The Inaugural Bedford Stuyvesant Crown Heights Film Festival

Attika J. Torrence, Joseph C. Grant Jr. and Rob Stapleton address following the Brooklyn debut of The Stuff during The Bedford Stuyvesant Crown Heights Film Festival at the Billie Holiday Theatre.
Attika J. Torrence, Joseph C. Grant Jr. and Rob Stapleton address following the Brooklyn debut of The Stuff during The Bedford Stuyvesant Crown Heights Film Festival at the Billie Holiday Theatre.

BEDFORD STUYVESANT  It’s film festival season and Brooklyn’s all in.

The Bedford Stuyvesant Crown Heights Film Festival launched Friday night with a red carpet rollout in front of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration Plaza).

The free, 2-day event showcased two features, five short films, a web series and several artist panels to celebrate and acknowledge people of color in the film industry. The opening night brought more than 200 people out to the Billie Holiday Theatre at Restoration Plaza.

“I wanted to give artists an opportunity to showcase their work and have a beautiful time in doing so,” said the festival’s co-founder Attika J. Torrence.

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Torrence, 46, a fifth-generation Brooklynite, sat down with director Joseph C. Grant Jr. and writer/comedian Rob Stapleton after the Brooklyn debut of “The Stuff” a dramatic-comedy, about two cable technicians who find themselves the subject of a drug deal gone wrong. During a Q&A, after the showing, the artists revealed strategies for creating the Brooklyn-based film, including wardrobe techniques and finding financial backing for a film made in just 13 days. 

Co-founder Attika J. Torrence and attendees of the Bedford Stuyvesant Crown Heights Film Festival on the red carpet outside of Restoration Plaza.
Co-founder Attika J. Torrence and attendees of the Bedford Stuyvesant Crown Heights Film Festival on the red carpet outside of Restoration Plaza.

“When it comes to getting money, people don’t care how good your script is or how dope your idea is, at then of the day they invest in you,” Stapleton said.

The festival closed Saturday night with a showing of “Memphis Majic,” a documentary on the Southern city through the gaze of a local street dance called Jookin. During the day, panels filled with actors such as Chyna Lane, MUGGA and Morroco Omari answered questions about making it as an actor in the film industry.

“Just continue walking forward and never give up, said Omari,40, formerly of the hip-hop TV drama, “Empire”.

Torrence and his co-founders Joseph C. Grant Jr. and Ephraim FETTI Benton began the independent venture to highlight the work of area filmmakers while paying homage to the historic Billie Holiday theater, according to the festival’s website.

“The Billie Holliday Theater was designed to promote and highlight the arts in Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights,” Councilman Robert Cornegy, whose district encompasses Bedford Stuyvesant and portions of Crown Heights. The 218-seat theatre was established in 1972, five years after then-Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and other lawmakers commissioned the Restoration Plaza.

“So today, we bring it back to its origins to highlight us.”

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Kadia Goba

Former Politics Reporter for Bklyner, covering Brooklyn politics and Crown Heights/PLG/Bed Stuy. @kadiagoba

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