Welcome to UrbanWorld 2019
You might not know it, but my sister is pretty amazing. Thanks to her I’ve gotten to do some pretty cool things. This weekend she exposed me to a whole new experience. I was fortunate enough to attend UrbanWorld 2019, one of the largest international competitive film festivals of its kind. It’s mission is to advance inclusion in the film industry by providing a platform for storytelling that includes voices from around the world. The festival expands the definition of “urban” beyond ethnicity. This festival turns the word urban on its head; here it is not reductive but instead a celebration of multi-hued and textured sensibilities, culture, and proximity. It creates a space for people of color in the film industry to come together with one another and interact directly with their own audience, creating a sense of community that I have never witnessed in any other film festival.
This year the festival highlighted the films “Harriet” starring Cynthia Erivo and directed by Kasi Lemmons, “Black & Blue” starring Tyrese and directed by Deon Taylor, and First Wives Club starting Jill Scott and so much more. The question and answer sessions were so powerful; you could feel the connection that the actors and filmmakers had with the audiences that had just viewed their work. There was a level of honesty and insight from the actors that was stunning to watch. Tyrese laid his vulnerability bare in his conversations with the audience. Director Deon Cole provides powerful words of motivation to aspiring creatives. But I also got to witness something special as I wandered through this festival. There was a spirit of family that permeated the spirit of the staff working this festival. The people working the festival, from the handlers on the press line to the bar tender in the Crown Royal Hennessy suite had such a spirit of familiarity. Of course they were the epitome of professionalism, but it was also clear that these people were not just working together, they were having fun together. They weren’t just working for their bosses, they were supporting them. The staff was not just a team, they were something more. This festival, which is so esteemed and so critical to filmmakers everywhere, is special not just because it fosters community; it is special because the community it fosters is the community it has built. It takes a village to create a space for beautiful things to grow; the village behind UrbanWorld 2019 did just that.
If you love film and are on the East Coast, please put this festival on your calendar for 2020. You will not be disappointed.