Sergio Mims is a screenwriter, film critic and consultant for the
Black Harvest Film Festival. Mims is passionate about the art of
filmmaking and the importance of film festivals to black independent
filmmakers. The Chicagoan shared with rolling out his views on why film festivals continue to be important and what makes Black Harvest so special.
What is the role of black film festivals in 2009?
[Filmmakers don’t] get attention of studios if you don’t show your work
at film festivals. That’s where many independent films get noticed.
Sundance, Cannes, Toronto — studio executives, filmmakers, financiers
go to these festivals looking for films and looking for talent. How
else are they going to know about [them?]
How does the apathy of Hollywood affect black indie filmmakers?
The reason why there are still [so many] independent black films is
because Hollywood isn’t addressing it. People are still saying I don’t
see anything that relates to me that relates to my life — I don’t see
myself on screen. These films have to be seen and audiences want to see
these pictures. It’s up to us to take up the slack. There are a lot of
black films out there, but unfortunately [mainstream] black film today
seems to mean one thing … Tyler Perry.
What sets the Black Harvest Film Festival apart?
I like to brag that we’re picky. There are a lot of black films out
there and there’s not a lot of opportunity for these films to be seen
and studios reject them because they claim there’s no audience for
them. I like to think that we’re more selective and also, Chicago has
very demanding audiences. They don’t tolerate any old crap. We have a
responsibility to that audience. And I [love] saying, ‘here’s a good
movie that can be loved and appreciated.’ That makes me happy. –todd williams