Back in November I had the opportunity to show Chronic Means Forever at it’s first film festival. The 44th Northwest Filmmakers Festival chose MY film to be one of five feature length films to show at this year’s festivals. To say that I was honored and humbled was an understatement. I was awe throughout most of the experience. Felt like a big wig. Even drank a glass of complimentary Rosé (it was as good as T-Pain led me to believe, but maybe I’m just not a wine person). I sat in the back of the auditorium letting out labored breaths as my film showed on the huge screen in front of me. Watching it as if it were the first time.
At the end there was a Q&A with me scheduled. I walked up to stand on stage, sweating in my dashiki, tugging on my hoop earring, praying my secret clinic protection deodorant would hold on just a lil bit longer. Someone, a friend, asked me how I think my Blackness tied into my film. To be honest, I stammered and struggled to find an answer. Not because my Blackness was not tied to it. But because I thought the tie of my Blackness to it was obvious beyond an explanation. So much so that I didn't specifically think about it when constructing the film. It's not just tied to my Blackness because I, a Black person made it. It's tied to Blackness because it displayed my being Black in a way that doesn't usually happen on such a giant screen. The only people who spoke in my film are Black. Black bodies on screen don't usually get to talk about their feelings, their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their trauma in such a vulnerable way. Black bodies on screen don't usually get to show their physical scars to the audience that weren't done by makeup and tied to a "fictional" storyline that involved whips. Black bodies on screen don't usually get to weep and expect people to listen and validate their pain. Black bodies on screen don't usually get to ask for empathy unless they're already dead. In my film, my Black body did all those things on screen. And you know what? Only 7 strangers thought it was worth seeing my Black body do all of that on screen. Strangers near and far made sure to come watch a white woman's film of found footage penis's that she spliced together over 80s rock songs. Strangers made sure to get front row seats to see a white guys film of found footage landscapes from Korea and Vietnam. But only 7 strangers thought my Black tears were worth their time.
And before you ask, yes, people did know I was Black before deciding whether or not to see my film. I plastered my Black face and my Black name all over the trailer I had the festival post on their website. A couple of white people who heard my Black friends and I talking about the lack of an audience at my showing tried to assure me that it isn't just me. That it's hard to get people to come out to things these days. To that couple I smiled, nodded, and sipped my delicious apple juice. Because I had nothing to say that they would want to hear. They wouldn't want to hear that I had been to over half of the showings at the festival, and because of that I know that people do come out to things these days. They make a point to come out to white things.
But hey, a couple weekends later I attended and led a workshop at ACES: Artists of Color Expo & Symposium in Seattle. It was fantastic. It was comforting. It was rejuvenating. It was exactly what I needed. My melanin senses were on overdrive and I loved every minute of it. Colored people time may be a thing, but trust, that we gon show up for one another. Trust.
Thanks for reading.
Much love and canned peaches,
P.S. Last time I shared with y’all my very first animation attempt. Please enjoy the following video as evidence that I’m still at it and getting even better!