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Detroit Black Film Festival launches with acclaimed native Detroiters

Detroit Black Film Festival 2020
Detroit Black Film Festival 2020, Artwork by Dwayne Jones.

Trinity Films Entertainment Group is excited to announce the launch of the inaugural Detroit Black Film Festival with several award-winning and highly acclaimed native Detroiters in the film and television industry.

Festival ambassador – Deborah Joy Winans

The 2020 Detroit Black Film Festival ambassador is famed actress and singer Deborah Joy Winans, who stars in the OWN family-drama series “Greenleaf,” spearheaded by executive producer Oprah Winfrey. Although Winans was born into a legendary musical family, her first passion was acting. She only started singing seriously when she was asked in 2016, along with her brother Juan, to portray their real-life aunt and uncle, Bebe and Cece Winans, on stage in the musical Born for This. Winans has also made guest-voice over appearances for multiple Grammy award-winning projects such as Mary Mary’s “The Sound” and Kelly Price’s audio book, and further lent her voice to the Greenleaf Soundtrack and the single, “The Master’s Calling,” which broke the top 20 on the gospel Billboard Chart two weeks after release. Winans is also featured alongside Grammy Award-winning artist, Patti LaBelle on the lead single “Changed” for the Greenleaf season three soundtrack.

Master classes with Christine Swanson, Qasim Basir, Michael Swanson and Brian Smiley

Master classes will be held by award-winning writers and directors Christine Swanson and Qasim Basir; and highly acclaimed industry executives Michael Swanson and Brian Smiley.

Award-winning director Christine Swanson’s latest film, “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel,” aired in April of 2020. The film broke a record on the Lifetime network with a staggering 2.7 million viewers. It was the highest rated movie in Lifetime’s history in the last four years. To date, the movie has been viewed by almost 14 million viewers and counting. Swanson has developed, written and/or directed movie projects for HBO Films, Magnolia Pictures, State Street Pictures, TV One and Faith Filmworks. Christine received a 2015 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Direction in a Television Motion Picture. Other award-winning projects Swanson has written and/or directed in her career include: Two Seasons (winner HBO Short Film Competition, Sundance selection), “All About You” starring Renée Elise Goldsberry, Terron Brooks and Debbie Allen. The film was the winner of the Audience Choice Award Chicago International Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize Hollywood Black Film Festival and Festival Award at the Pan African Film Festival.

Qasim “Q” Basir is an award-winning filmmaker. He directed his first feature film MOOZ-lum, in 2010. The film starred Nia Long, Evan Ross and Danny Glover. The coming-of-age tale about a Muslim boy going to college around the Sept.11 attacks received much critical acclaim, with nominations from the NAACP Image Awards and the Black Reel Awards. It won Best Narrative Feature at the 14th Annual Urban World Film Festival in New York. Basir also wrote and directed “Destined,” starring Cory Hardrict. Basir won Best Director at the American Black Film Festival for this film. His film A Boy, A Girl, A Dream, starring Omari Hardwick and Meagan Good was selected for the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

Michael Swanson is an Emmy Award-winning producer and studio executive. Swanson has produced critically acclaimed films for the past 20 years through his production company, Faith Filmworks.

In 2010, Swanson was invited to join NBC Universal as a studio production executive for Universal Television. He oversees production operations for some of the studio’s most popular TV series including “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox) starring Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher, “Master of None” (Netflix) starring Aziz Ansari, “The Good Place” (NBC) starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, “Parks and Recreation” (NBC) starring Amy Poehler, “Community” (NBC/Yahoo) starring Joel McHale, Murray Povich (Syndication) and “Food Fighter” (NBC). Michael’s other productions include the multiple award-winning romantic feature films, “All About You” and “All About Us,” written and directed by his wife, filmmaker Christine Swanson. “All About Us” stars Boris Kodjoe, Ryan Bathé, the late Ruby Dee and a special appearance by Academy Award winner, Morgan Freeman.

Bryan Smiley is president of film and television for mega comedian Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat Productions. Smiley is the former VP of production for Sony Pictures Entertainment. Smiley was instrumental in the multiyear development and production deal with superstar athlete Stephen Curry across its film, television, and worldwide partnerships operations in the biggest media deal of any athlete to date. Before joining Columbia Pictures, Smiley co-founded No Label Productions, a multicultural film and television company. He has also consulted for several top media companies including Fox Digital Entertainment and Fox Digital Studios.

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