Char­lotte film fes­ti­val of­fers a plat­form to artists of color

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Basketball - BY MYAH WARD [email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

When Tre’ McGriff moved from New York to Char­lotte in 1999, he felt some­thing was miss­ing.

Pre­vi­ously sur­rounded by cul­tural di­ver­sity, McGriff re­mem­bers watch­ing African, Lat­inAmer­i­can and Ital­ian films. De­spite Char­lotte’s cul­tural fes­ti­vals and out­lets, he said, it lacked a plat­form for di­ver­sity in cin­ema and film.

For a chang­ing city, McGriff wanted to cre­ate some­thing that would give film­mak­ers of color a voice.

“The (Char­lotte) com­mu­nity is be­com­ing more di­verse,” McGriff said. “I think in or­der for us to un­der­stand each other and the com­mu­nity, we have to em­brace each other’s cul­ture.”

So McGriff launched the CineOdysse­y Film Fes­ti­val last year, a first-of-its-kind for Char­lotte. The sec­ond an­nual event will be held July 12-14 in the Wells Fargo Au­di­to­rium at Knight The­ater.

The fes­ti­val cel­e­brates film­mak­ers from the African, Caribbean, Latino, Asian and Na­tive Amer­i­can di­as­po­ras as well as from the U.S., the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s web­site says.

“The most im­por­tant thing this fes­ti­val will do is give peo­ple an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence di­verse cul­tures through the realm of cin­ema,” McGriff said.

Films were cho­sen through sub­mis­sions, rec­om­men­da­tions and McGriff’s own dis­cov­er­ies.

This year’s fes­ti­val in­cludes screen­ings of about 30 in­de­pen­dent films. McGriff said he is ex­cited

about many of the films, in­clud­ing “BlacKorea,” di­rected by award-win­ning film­maker Chris­tine Swan­son.

The film, told from a child’s per­spec­tive, touches on the com­plex­i­ties of life be­ing born to a Korean mother and an African-Amer­i­can fa­ther in Chicago.

McGriff also wanted to main­tain a lo­cal pres­ence by hav­ing film­mak­ers from both North and South Carolina.

“My great pas­sion is to give film­mak­ers a plat­form and to get their work seen,” McGriff said.

In ad­di­tion to film screen­ings, there will be a work­shop for smart­phone film­mak­ing taught by Char­lotte film­maker Quin­ton Lit­tle­john and a panel dis­cus­sion on the im­pact of di­ver­sity in the film in­dus­try at the Har­vey B. Gantt Cen­ter for African Amer­i­can Arts and Cul­ture.

The panel will be mod­er­ated by Hol­ly­wood writer and pro­ducer Calvin Brown Jr. Pan­elists will in­clude: film di­rec­tor Chris­tine Swan­son, Queen City Unity founder Jorge Mil­lares, film­maker and fine artist Roni Ni­cole Hen­der­son and Manoj Ke­sa­van, founder of Char­lotte’s BOOM! Fes­ti­val.

CineOdysse­y also holds events and film screen­ings through­out the year.

While McGriff said he has self-funded the or­ga­ni­za­tion for two years, the or­ga­ni­za­tion just re­ceived non-profit sta­tus. He hopes this will help CineOdysse­y con­tinue to grow in the Char­lotte Com­mu­nity.

“I’m all about in­de­pen­dent film­mak­ing,” McGriff said. “I love the Holly- wood stuff, I love the big block­buster stuff, but I think as a com­mu­nity, we re­ally need to em­brace and sup­port in­de­pen­dent film­mak­ers... We want to nour­ish them so they can grow their ca­reers and do big things.”

WANT TO GO?

Sched­ule and ticket info can be found at www .ci­neodysseyf­est.org/.

Tick­ets range from free for the film work­shop to $65 plus fees for all-ac­cess.

Courtesy of Tre’ McGriff

Tre’ McGriff founded CineOdysse­y Film Fes­ti­val ; the sec­ond an­nual fes­ti­val will be July 12-14

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