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9th Annual WNY Black Film Fest Kicks Off Tonight

This evening, Saturday February 19, the Buffalo Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Masten District Councilmember Demone Smith will be hosting the 9th Annual WNY Black Film Festival to showcase independent black films and help raise awareness about relationships and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The festival will kick off at 6 p.m. at the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center.  The theme of the festival is “Do You Know Your Status” and all of the films will focus on romantic relationships and/or the impact of the ever-expanding HIV/AIDS epidemic.  There will also be on-site HIV/AIDS testing available for those attendees who are interested.
“The sorority wanted to help make an impact by communicating to teens and young adults about the importance of knowing the facts about HIV/Aids, and the devastating effects of risky behavior,” states Jayme Smith, the film festival’s chairperson and co- founder.  “With our teen Essay Contest and the selection of films, our goal is to highlight the realities to teens and young adults in an entertaining matter.”
Tonight’s program will include two short-film screenings.  The first will be a music video entitled “Run,” which is co-directed by Buffalo native hip-hop artist Edreys Wajed. Wajed’s work is centered on providing positive messages through spoken word and music. “Run” conveys the aspects of losing oneself in a relationship and the consequences that result after that relationship ends and one has to find their way back to wholeness. This film was made in Buffalo and features local talent, including Wajed, who has won several awards locally for his work.
“Run” will be followed by a discussion and reception.  The post-screening discussion will be lead by Tijuana A. James-Traore, Associate Director of the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), who has worked internationally as an educator on adolescent sexual and reproductive health. She has done work across several continents, including Asia, South America, and Africa, and also in the Caribbean.
There will be two other films shown on opening night.  “Shuga” chronicles the lives of a group of young students who have a love for risk and danger.  It explores the risks associated with sexual decisions made by youth, including HIV/AIDS.  “Shuga” was produced by MTV in partnership with PEPFAR and UNICEF.  “Results” is an award-winning short written and directed by Eddie Boles.  It also explores a romantic relationship and the emotional challenges that arise therein.
The final day of the festival, Sunday, February 27, will feature four short films.  The screenings will begin at 3 p.m. that day. The screening list includes “Good Intentions,” “Katrina’s Son,” “Brothers Incorporated” and “Mr. Graham.”
“Good Intentions” is directed by Morocco Omari, a Chicago actor and director.  The film tells the story of Camille and Avery, who are given an opportunity to overcome unfortunate circumstances, but they must decide between saving a loved one or breaking the bonds of their marriage.  The story conveys the current issues with the economy and poor health care.
“Katrina’s Son” tells the story of Ed, a 15 year-old Hurricane Katrina evacuee who leaves his foster home in Washington, D.C. to find his mother.  He learns that reuniting with his family is not the happy occasion he expected.
“Brothers Incorporated” is an award-winning film based in Philadelphia during the 1960s.  It tells the story of Marcus, who is expected to take his father’s place at the helm of Philadelphia’s Black Mafia.  “Mr. Graham” is an international film that explores an adolescent’s life and his struggle with his inner demons.
The film festival is being sponsored by the Buffalo Bills and Time Warner Communications. The goal is to help educate the community through entertainment.
“This annual event provides a positive activity for the community and contributes to our longstanding commitment to public service, as well as increasing the awareness and appreciation of independent black films, said Robyn Tate, Delta Sigma Theta’s President.”
The Market Arcade Theater is located at 639 Main Street. For more information, call 716-860-2563.
Photo: Edreys Wajed

Written by Sarah Maurer

Sarah Maurer

I moved to Buffalo to attend Canisius College in 2007 and began writing for Buffalo Rising as a journalism intern in 2010. Working with Newell and meeting numerous entrepreneurs, activists and everyday folks who were working to make their city better made a huge impact on my decision to stay here. After witnessing all the positive development and grassroots initiatives happening in neighborhoods throughout the city, I was inspired to pursue a term of service in AmeriCorps and a career in Buffalo's non-profit sector. I currently work in the housing department at the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of WNY and am excited to be a part of their ongoing efforts to revitalize the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. I also volunteer as the project coordinator for Artfarms Buffalo. I continue to write for Buffalo Rising because I love having the opportunity to stay connected to those working toward positive changes for the Queen City.

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