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Spokane Film Project partners with Seattle Black Film Festival to feature films in 2021 event

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 4, 2021

The Spokane Film Project and the Seattle Black Film Festival are partnering in an event titled SBFF Remix. The event looks to provide local indie film lovers a chance to watch films featured in the Seattle Black Film Festival. In 2003, Jacqueline Moscou created the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival, which “sought to give audiences access to underrepresented perspectives and emerging filmmakers across the African diaspora.”

Renamed the Seattle Black Film Festival, this year’s edition of the festival took place in April. The film festival had twice as many offerings than the 2020 festival. Nearly 70 films focused on four themes related to diaspora displacement, decolonizing Black narratives in film, the future of Black identity and “Black love, self love.” Some of the material from the Seattle Black Film Festival will be short films and other condensed programming.

With the rise of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, filmmakers of color are striking while the iron is hot. Juan A. Mas, one of the co-founders of the Spokane Film Project, is a Latino man looking to broaden Spokane’s film options through the program. Mas has been in the film industry for nearly 30 years. He got his start in Los Angeles, where he witnessed the power of investing in younger communities. After being in Spokane for 27 years, Mas looks to cultivate an environment fertile with opportunities to empower the next generation of filmmakers and artists.

“Our community at large is not aware, and the artistic abilities exist in (BIPOC) communities, but exposing these things to our younger communities is our way of school outside of school,” Mas said. “It’s not just about us arts organizations but really about the next wave of artists in our community. We need to start with the young ones to inspire them.”

As a volunteer working with Spokane Arts, his community work is geared toward providing Spokane’s youth with diverse opportunities. He is currently a director and producer for statewide and local film projects. “We’re expanding not only the material we’re bringing to Spokane, but increasing more work in marginalized communities that don’t get enough support in the art and film industries,” Mas said.

Mas hopes the event attracts pockets of diversity in Spokane. He also hopes to connect with more community organizations that combine diversity and art together. One of the groups Spokane Film Project is looking forward to partnering with is Terrain, the local organization that centers “community and economic opportunity for the artists, makers and culture creators of the Inland Northwest.”

“These cultures exist and are strong, vibrant and healthy,” Mas said. “Here, you’re going to get into that inclusion within Black representation in performing arts and BIPOC people.” Mas can’t wait to fill up the Magic Lantern Theatre for the special event. Happy he’s spending the first Saturday of the month collaborating, connecting and networking, he hopes people stay after the films to talk about opening more doors for similar events.

“I’m so excited to see the communities’ response. That’s like the benchmark we use,” Mas said. “In the film industry, if there’s work happening on the West Side, that’s the whole state because the industry is rising. It would be ideal to have projects shooting across the state, along with events that are slightly different. I hope people find common values and wishes and hope during this program.

“We want to close the gap – generationally, environmentally, culturally, in all those (ways).”

Amber D. Dodd's work as the Carl Maxey Racial and Social Inequity reporter for Eastern Washington and North Idaho primarily appears in both The Spokesman-Review and The Black Lens newspapers, and is funded in part by the Michael Conley Charitable Fund, the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, the Innovia Foundation and other local donors from across our community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper's managing editor.

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