Black Film Festival Changes Approach

Screen-Shot-2012-11-16-at-6.25.48-PMNashville’s annual Black Film Festival will be entirely online this year, due to limited funds. But while that change made it possible for the festival to continue, it’s brought a new set of challenges, even schedule changes after Hurricane Sandy.

For the last five years, Independent Black Film Festival of Nashville was a weekend of screenings, classes and networking sessions. But the money just isn’t there for a physical festival this time. Instead, it’s moving online, using streaming video to make movies available on the internet for a fee during a limited stretch of time.

Founder Hazel Joyner Smith Says that potentially opens the door to a worldwide audience. But she admits assuring filmmakers it’s a safe way to show their work has been a task.

“We’ve even had one person put it in, take it out, put it back in again because they’d talked to others who said this is the way that the industry is going. We’re gaining more and more confidence from filmmakers every day.”

The streaming service that’s making sure the films can be shown without risk of pirating is based in Lower Manhattan and its equipment was damaged in the recent hurricane. What’s more, filmmakers based in New York had not yet finished sending in their digital files before the storm hit. To allow time for everyone to regroup, the festival’s opening day was pushed back two weeks to December 13th.

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