If I were to tell you that something terrible will happen in the next paragraph that will make the rest of your life miserable, and that you absolutely must NOT read it, what would you do? (Last warning, with creepy background music.)

PriyanathOf course you read on, for you must find out for yourself. Fear as a detractor is a tool that many parents and teachers discover has a boomerang effect: the worse you make it sound, the more the children want to try it. This is why teenagers wind up making the same mistakes their parents tried to help them avoid, and why history repeats itself despite all the 20-20 hindsight humankind should’ve collectively accumulated.

Fear is also a powerful motivator to tackle our demons, to prove to ourselves that we’re capable and ready to take on even greater challenges. I was afraid to finish watching this short film only halfway through, once that creepy background music started playing. I enjoy nearly all genres of literature and film…except horror.

Clenching the super-hero wristband of the six-year-old protagonist Priyanath, together we walked straight up to our fear. The surprise ending was a release of tension, and perhaps the catalyst for a bolder future. A film directed by a black woman and starring an Indian family is already a harbinger of the intercultural awareness, cooperation, and respect that our globalized world so desperately needs. May many skin tones hold hands and walk through this film together at the Black Film Festival in Denton this weekend.

See an interview with writer and director Anietie Antia-Obong here:

Priyanath runs 10 minutes and will be shown Sunday, January 29 at 1:45 p.m. during Film Block 13 with the feature The Land Beneath Our Feet and the short The Storyteller as part of Denton Black Film Festival. To purchase tickets at the online box office, click here.

Rise Up

I wonder what sorts of intellectual debates would occur if the great former leaders of philosophy, science, or religion with opposing worldviews could gather to see whose ideas are today’s reality. One theory can be debunked only by testing it, and an opinion can best be argued against by understanding it. We have to see things from each other’s perspectives to propose ideas. True progress is founded on respect. Modern cartographers jeer that our globe is round, but seen from the looking glass of that historical setting, perhaps flat was the best way the world at that time could have been described.

Rise Up poster“Rise Up” pits the powerful duo that led the 1960s civil rights movement in opposite directions towards a shared goal. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X stare each other down, their gaze unflinching as they speak and listen. If nothing else, this film is about the power of recognizing and respecting the other’s viewpoint, using the art of dialogue. Direct eye contact, then direct action.

Enter the modern world of social circles staring down at cell phone screens. A young thug looking for action bursts upon the African-American debate, and the conversation takes a wild spin. “Brother” is replaced by “nigga”, but the divergent generations share a vocabulary of love for the black people. Decades pass and the question remains: How to effectively rise up as a race?

The audience must listen through to the end for answers, and then engage by adding their own ideas in conversations that will surely surface after this provocative film.

See the trailer here:

Rise Up runs 13 minutes and will be shown Saturday, January 28 at 4:45 p.m. during Film Block 9 with the feature Jerico as part of Denton Black Film Festival. To purchase tickets at the online box office, click here.