ATLANTA – Filmmakers, photojournalists, and local influencers turned out in full force last week for this year’s BronzeLens Media and VIP reception.
The invite-only mixer at Davidoff of Geneva in upscale Buckhead was a chance to hear from festival producers about the upcoming 2017 BronzeLens Film Festival (BLFF). It was also an opportunity to mingle and network with filmmakers selected to participate in the festival.
Guests included Olympic legend Edwin Moses, media maven LaRonda Sutton, and award-winning documentary filmmaker Malena Cunningham Anderson, among others. Attendees were served with delicious bites and champagne flutes.
In the dimly lit and luxurious space, conversation swirled around the upcoming festival and how it serves as a catalyst for people of color in film and television. Over the years filmmakers like Issa Rae, Ava DuVernay, and Neema Barnette have participated in making the festival a success.
The BronzeLens team — Kathleen Bertrand, Terri Vismale-Morris, Tandi Reddick, Amber Franklin – all shared highlights on what to expect from this year’s festival. They also talked about BLFF’s impact on Atlanta, promoting the city as a leader in the film industry.
Now in its 8th year, the Turner Broadcasting sponsored festival takes place August 20-27 at the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel. This year’s activities feature over 60 films that include a selection of shorts, features, narratives, webisodes, and documentaries.
Bertrand, the founder and executive director, said the idea came to her when the CEO of the Convention of Visitors Bureau asked her what was being done to draw people of color to film in Atlanta. She said, “BronzeLens was created out of that thought. How do we draw more people to Atlanta as the center for film and television production? Then once they are here, how do we uplift the next generation of film makers?”
What makes BronzeLens so unique is that it encourages interaction and real engagement between filmmakers and fans, said Bertrand. Everyone gets the “opportunity to learn from the experts”, which helps patrons and producers share their stories as people of color.
“BronzeLens has done a great job of developing excellent programming and also just putting on an excellent festival,” said Tirrell Whittley, the Chairman of the BronzeLens Board. “It’s about making sure that the audience that we serve understand the value and the benefits of BronzeLens… because there’s nothing better than having a great product than having lots and lots of people enjoy it.”
Bertrand says there are plans to celebrate big for the festival’s 10th anniversary. She explained, “We want to be able to set a strategic direction for what BronzeLens looks like in the future, whether it’s a BronzeLens Institute or a BronzeLens channel.” Ultimately the vision for BronzeLens incorporates ways to help filmmakers become more exposed to the opportunities and outlets in the film and television industry.
Headlining the festival is the Women SuperStars Luncheon that celebrates the accomplishments of women of color in the film and television industry. Confirmed honorees to date include “Queen Sugar” director Neema Barnette, stage, TV and film actress Crystal Fox and award-winning filmmaker Nefertite Nguvu.
“Greenleaf” actor Lamman Rucker will lead a master class on the “Art of Auditioning” and will also moderate this year’s “Brunch with the Brothers” featuring his “Greenleaf” co-star Keith David along with “Queen Sugar” stars Omar J. Dorsey and Timon Kyle Durrett and “The Quad” actor E. Roger Mitchell.
Since its inception, BLFF has evolved into one of the leading film festivals showcasing films about and created by people of color in the United States. The event has gained international recognition among film production professionals, emerging filmmakers, actors and various publics seeking a top tier film festival experience
To register for tickets, visit bronzelens.com.