BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP
The Black Women Film Network (BWFN) celebrated 20 years this past week. They pulled out all the stops to celebrate during their Annual Black Women Film Summit, a 3-day event to learn, network, and explore. The Summit kicked off on Thursday Night with a screening of FOX’s new 10-week series SHOTS FIRED premiering on March 22 at 8 pm at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum in Atlanta.
Shots Fired reunites Reggie Rock Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood who are the creators, writers, and executive producers with Love and Basketball star Sanaa Lathan, who stars as Ashe, the flawed but savvy investigator who works to help prosecutor Preston Terry (Stephan James) get to the truth of an incident in which a black cop shot a white teenager in a small town.
On Friday, the “Untold Stories” Award Luncheon held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis and honored several individuals whose work and careers have either inspired or paved the way for women of color in film and television. Honorees included “Creative Power Couple” recipients’ Dondre Whitfield and Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Industry Award Recipients’ Will Areu, Vice President of Tyler Perry Studios and Ozzie Areu, President of Tyler Perry Studios, Trailblazer recipient Tichina Arnold, Rising Star recipient Teyonah Parris, and Founder’s Award Recipient Donna Lowry, Veteran broadcast journalist and 20-year BWFN board member.
During the luncheon four college students were also awarded with scholarships during the luncheon. Danielle Boyd (NYU), Atiara Brown (Atlanta Technical College), Sarah Griffin (Atlanta Technical College), and Ariel Jones (Louisiana State University).
After the luncheon there was a Reel Sista Talk panel, where honorees engage in a transparent conversation about their lives and careers. Those on the panel were Salli and Dondre Whitfield, Donna Lowry, past honoree Terri J. Vaughn, moderated by former honoree Shante Bacon.
The Summit came to an exciting close on Saturday with a busy day full of workshops, panels, a book festival, and film screenings.
Choose ATL presented the last panel of the day, Secrets from the Set: Showrunners, Writers and Actors Take You Behind the Scenes of Hit TV Shows Produced in Atlanta. 135th Street Agency CEO Shante Bacon moderated a very informative conversation with Greenleaf writer/executive story editor Erica Anderson, Saints and Sinners showrunner Ty Scott and If Loving You is Wrong actress April Parker Jones.
The Summit closed out with awards for the winning films from the BWFN-BronzeLens Film Festival Screenings:
Miss Winn’s Garden-Best Audience Participation
Director: Shanalyna Palmer
Producers: Shanalyna Palmer, Lucy A. Fazey, Brenda Porter, Sishan Palmer, Barbara-Lee A. Palmer
Brazilian Wavy-Best Comedy
Director: Kirk Henriques
Producers: Kirk Henriques, Yusef Muhammad, Jasmine Burke, Chet Brewster
Director: Mike Michaels
Producers: Winsome Sinclair, Don Saint, Julia Vilnet
Sista in the Brotherhood-Best of Festival
Director: Dawn Jones Redstone
Producer: Roberta Hunte, PhD.
The 3-days spent at the Summit was truly a time of learning new things, networking with new people and getting advice from industry professionals and growing.