Denton Black Film Festival broadens perspectives

Published on: Sun, Jan 21, 2018

Art is expression. It takes as many forms as there are artists to create it. Even artists working within the same genre produce creations quite different from one another. They incorporate nuances from somewhere within their own imaginations stemming from their unique perspectives, life experiences, feelings, values – all aspects of our humanness that make every person individual, unlike any other ever born.

At the same time, as particular as an artist’s expression is to his individuality, his work will inevitably affect others when shared. Art touches us. Through it, our separate humanness becomes a shared, collective experience. Art connects us, because as different as we are human to human, there are commonalities along life’s journey that draw us together; things like love, wonder, bewilderment, discovery, pain.

Perspective is universal. Everybody has one. The fact that every person has a perspective is where the universal application ends, though, because our perspectives are as unique as our fingerprints. Original. Independent.

When Tim and I watch a movie, we see different things happening on the screen. He notices detail within each scene, frame by frame. I merely see a story, focusing on the characters. He notices nuances like cars racing down a wet street, squealing to a stop seconds later on dry pavement. All I saw was a harrowing getaway.

Tim is right-brained, an artist. He sees director errors, scene inconsistencies, setting details relevant to where viewers are supposed to believe the story is taking place. I could miss mountain oddity in the background of a scene supposedly unfolding in Denton if the story fully captured my imagination. My left-brained logic envies his skill at times; other times, it’s just irritating. I guess together we make a whole brain.

Tim can watch a movie with a sloppy storyline, yet appreciate artistic elements of excellent filmmaking in its production. Me? I’m either engaged in the story or likely not watching at all. At least that’s how it was before Tim and film festivals and documentaries. What I’ve learned through discovery is that people take in the world through different filters and in different ways.

Documentaries have helped me appreciate and understand other art forms. When I stand in front of a painting, study a sculpture, drive by a mural, read a book, I’ve learned to see something from inside someone else. It’s not about me. Its creation was not rooted in my entertainment. Instead, I have an opportunity to glean from someone else’s expression a way of seeing that doesn’t come naturally to me.

The Denton Black Film Festival (DBFF) this coming weekend, January 25-28, is an excellent case in point.

When the DBFF was in its conception, I admit I did not understand the need to call out the black aspect of the artists involved. I have a Technicolor view of the world. Not black or white or gray. Color. That’s why in movies, I see the story in the film, but really don’t ponder much the real lives of the actors and makers themselves. I just see the story.

Verb Kulture at Denton Black Film Festival’s Spoken Word. (Image from Denton Black Film Festival Facebook.)

A couple of years ago, media honed in on the lack of diversity among nominees for the 2016 Oscar awards, pondering why. As historical Oscar facts and stats were debated, I began to see the importance of the focus on black in the DBFF’s mission.

I’ve learned that great artists go unnoticed because of skin color, and that sometimes they are discovered because of it. Their ultimate desire, though, is to be seen as artists based solely on the quality of their expressions. Historically, art communities have not flourished within black culture, isolating these gifted right-brains. Events like the DBFF are changing that. Black artists are discovering one another, and finding their way together into a broader arts community, enlarging it for everyone’s benefit, including mine. This is ultimately what the DBFF is all about.

While the DBFF’s core is film (all screenings are at either the Campus Theatre or Black Box Theatre), other art forms like music and spoken word performances find the spotlight, too. A definite not-to-be-missed add this year is Freedman Town 2.0, an interactive, technology-based exhibit at UNT on the Square. Created by UNT Media Arts students, Freedman Town 2.0 uses augmented reality to chronicle ​the​ ​history​ ​of​ ​Denton’s black​ ​communities.

In the same way Tim’s and my different ways of consuming a film make a movie experience bigger when we share it, so we all are broadened as individuals when we embrace occasions to glimpse the world through filters unlike our own. The DBFF is one such occasion, enhanced with opportunities to meet and mingle, meld and explore, enlarge and appreciate different perspectives within our shared human story.

For festival details, screening schedules and ticketing information, visit our original event listing.

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