Monday, February 22, 2016

God's Protection

NYC is of course an interesting place to live, but it’s also kind of scary. A few weeks ago a crane fell over and one person was hit and killed by it. Since the beginning of this year there have been over 20 people slashed in the face while either walking on city streets or on subways.

These incidents, in addition to the many others that take place daily, are a reminder of how I need to make sure I cover myself before leaving my home for the day. God’s protection is really important to me and is something I never leave home without doing. 

And I am always thankful for the subtle reminders God sends to remind me that He is protecting me, as was the case with a dream I had last fall. Whenever I see news coverage of a slashing I get a little nervous. However, one time in particular I was instantly reminded of something that happened to me last summer. 

It was a warm night, well actually it was a warm morning. It was exactly 4:15am on Saturday morning when I got off the bus. I was on my way home from a house party in the Bronx. As I walked up the three blocks from the bus stop with Big Sean blasting in my earbuds, I remember thinking to myself, “Maybe I should take these things out of my ear and be more attentive as I walk home.” But I didn’t. For some reason I felt completely safe walking home in the dark at that time of the morning. Especially because there were a bunch of other people out and about too (it’s NYC, no one ever sleeps).

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I Don't Hate Mondays

It never fails… every Monday my Instagram is filled with posts/quotes about how much Mondays suck! When I saw these posts last Monday, I was reminded of when I use to feel the same exact way.

When I worked a traditional 9-5, in an office setting, I hated anything that had to do with Monday. I hated the weekly department meetings, the boring conference calls, and the supervisorial paperwork I had to fill out. When Fridays came around I was happy and relieved for the two days off. But those happy feelings would come to a halt at the same precise time every Sunday night.

7:00PM is when I would always start to feel sick; physically and mentally sick because that’s when I would realize Monday was right around the corner. And it didn’t matter where I was or what I was doing, once 7:00PM hit, my body had the same reaction: my head would pound, I would cry uncontrollably, and I got an attitude with whomever was around me.

The worst of this would be after I spent the weekend away or at my parent’s house. On Sunday night, while driving back to my apartment, that “Monday is coming” feeling always hit me when I passed a certain exit on the freeway. I would lose it and start crying every time. 

This particular freeway exit became such a fixture in my life that Last year when I was visiting Cali, I took a trip to visit some friends and drove on that same freeway. When I drove passed that exit all those old feelings came back. I had to stop and remind myself that I no longer have that job and don’t even live in this state anymore.

Read More: Here

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Amberly Ellis: Filmmaker

Last year Creative Director Amberly Ellis launched Film For The People Productions with one objective in mind: “…to capture life through film in ways that force audiences to think about something in a way that they did not think about before, and to do this in a manner that is as true as possible.” 
With a razor sharp focus and a commitment to her purpose, this Baltimore, MD native has set out on a path to bring awareness to the social issues that plague various people. In doing so, Amberly has traveled to many countries to capture these stories first-hand. Amberly’s way of bringing different people’s stories to life was celebrated when she told the story of “A young man’s journey through recovery and personal loss after a traumatic gunshot wound.”
 Bullets Without Names went on to be selected for Best Documentary Short at the 2014 American Visions Awards. After being awarded a grant that same year, Amberly set her sights on Cuba and the great women Filmmakers that the country has produced. 
Currently on location in Cuba, Amberly took time away from her busy shooting schedule to talk about Nuestra Cuba, the challenges she faces as a Filmmaker, and her passion for telling untold stories.

Did you always know you wanted to be a filmmaker?

I actually always thought that I was going to be a writer. At a very young age, I started journaling. I have kept a journal for every year of my life since the age of eight! It was really my father who helped me discover filmmaking. He is also a documentarian and photographer. Growing up, I always saw him with a camera, but as a girl, you don’t often see women behind the camera lens, and I always associated filmmaking with men. When my dad bought me my first professional camera for Christmas one year, that all changed for me. My dad always supported me as a woman behind the camera lens, and his support taught me that my gender didn’t matter. It gave me confidence to venture into an industry that in many areas is still very male dominated.

Why did you start Film For The People Productions?

I find that now, more than ever, so many stories are being told around the world through documentary films. Often the subjects of these films don’t have a more active part in doing the storytelling. In most cases, when it comes to marginalized communities, the images and experiences are misrepresented. I wanted to create a film production company that tries to change this narrative about documentary filmmaking. For these reasons, I created Film For The People Productions.

What is Nuestra Cuba? Where did this idea come from?

Nuestra Cuba is a two part documentary series that follows the stories of Afro-Cuban women filmmakers at the Institute of Cuban Cinema (ICAIC) in Havana. The idea for this film came from my discovery of the work of Sara Gomez. Gomez was the first woman to direct films in the Caribbean. I will never forget when I first went to ICAIC and I saw her photograph among a sea of male faces. Something about her photograph spoke to me. I connected to her spirit. I knew then that I had to tell her story. When I began research for the film, I quickly realized how little was known about her life. Many people in Havana were unfamiliar with her work and her legacy in cinema. When I later discovered that over thirty years would pass before ICAIC would produce another film director that was both woman and Afro-Cuban, I was even more convinced that there was a story here that needed to be told. Gloria Rolando is currently the only working Afro-Cuban woman film director at ICIAC.
I decided to call the documentary Nuestra Cuba or Our Cuba as a way to invite the audience to see Cuba through the perspective of Afro-Cuban women. The work of both of these women focuses on little known histories in Cuba, and I believe the world should know about their contributions to Cuban cinema.
Read More: Here