BWFN Festival Announces ’23 Selections With Sheryl Lee Ralph And Many Others

April 19, 2023

Black Women Film Network (BWFN), celebrating 26 years of preserving the voices of Black women in film and television from Harlem to Harare.

BWFN, is proud to announce the official selections for the annual BWFN Short Film Festival taking place Saturday, May 6, 2023 from 7 pm to 11 pm at MODEx Studio in Atlanta. 

This is a competitive festival in which short films are either written, produced, directed, or starred in by a Black woman.

Eight shorts were selected out of hundreds of submissions and will be judged by a jury that includes Elon Johnson (Head of Development, Tyler Perry Studios) and Aanch Khaneja (Head of Film & TV, SuperSpecial).

The selections for the 2023 BWFN Short Film Festival are:

Unexpected, is an untold story of two heroes, Masonia Traylor, and Ci Ci Covin as they create an underground network of women helping women cope with and survive an HIV diagnosis in the rural South. A story of hope, perseverance, the power of a shared connection, and directed by Zeberiah Newman and Produced by Sheryl Lee Ralph.

Look Back At It, A forty-something single mother gets her groove back with a little assistance from her teenage daughter. LOOK BACK AT IT is set in Baltimore and also serves as a proof of concept for a feature film of the same name, and directed by Felicia Pride

Summer, It’s the last day of summer break and a young girl is determined to enjoy every last minute. But dangers lurk within the shadows and jeopardize the innocence of her childhood. Facing the harsh realities of the real world, she is now desperate to return to the place she once couldn’t wait to leave…home, and directed by Shannon Dean.

Welcome to Afrotree, Steven, and Janet are fed up with gentrification, whitewashing, and code-switching in the big city. They move to Afrotree, an experimental, gated community populated by only African-American residents. Their dream of living in a cultural oasis suddenly becomes a nightmare when they discover they might not be “Black” enough, and directed by Chase Parker.

Brief Exchanges, “Brief Exchanges” follows Tanya, a young Black woman living in NYC. After a harsh encounter with a drunken stranger, Tanya lands on the same street corner as Troy, a young Black man whose kindness stands in sharp contrast to the unfriendly city. Their chance encounter becomes a daylong affair of flirtatious banter punctuated by poignant moments, or “brief exchanges,” that reflect the various microaggressions she must navigate daily. Filtered through the lens of a charming meet-cute, this film represents a Black woman’s reality in living with these intersectional identities and is directed by Ashley Versher.

With Salt, when an ambitious college student’s impromptu date takes an unexpected turn, silence is easier, but at what cost?

This short film deals with the self-silencing that occurs in the aftermath of a traumatic assault and is directed by Phyllis Toben Bancroft.

A Little Chilli, three generations of Nigerian women in Ireland. EDUGIE (the 60s), the grandmother, grew up in Nigeria. ADESUWA (the 40s), the mother, moved to Ireland as a child. ISOKEN (18), the daughter, was born and raised in Ireland. All with slightly different perspectives and unspoken expectations of each other. Edugie is planning a move back to Nigeria. Isoken is preparing to start University. In her determination to honor her late husband, Adesuwa forgets about herself. A story about motherhood and connection. About How we choose to honor and remember those who are no longer with us – and those who still are. Food, and the rituals that unite us, and directed by Esosa Ighodaro.

White Washed – Student Film Selection. After losing his father to racial hate, Nicholas and his family perceive their blackness in a different way. Nicholas now has the choice to bleach his skin completely, changing his identity forever, or to navigate the world as he is, and is directed by Raven Carter.

“It’s an honor to showcase the work of so many talented filmmakers from around the world,” says festival director Mercendez Springer. “This year’s selections are imaginative, intense, and at times, hilarious. We never know what we’re going to get, but we usually end up with an amazing array of films that’s reflective of the creativity and masterful storytelling of Black women.”

In addition to screening the featured selections, the festival will include filmmaker talk-backs and a post-event reception. 

The BWFN Short Film Festival is a signature event of the Black Women Film Network, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to preparing Black women to enter the film and television industries. Since 2004, the BWFN Short Film Festival has engaged hundreds of Black women filmmakers and provided a platform for these aspiring creatives to showcase their work. 

The goal of the BWFN Short Film Festival is to connect participating filmmakers to opportunities that will advance their careers. Many festival contestants have gone on to accomplish great achievements in the film industry, including Amy Aniobi (co-executive producer, Insecure), Nneka Onuorah (director, Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Girls), Winter Dunn (director, Dear Mama), Kia Moses (director, Flight), Janlatae Mullins (director, Soul Fire), Maya Table (director, Hit the Road), and Sheena Carter (producer, Social Society).

Tickets to the festival can be purchased HERE

Black Women Film Network (BWFN)

Established in 1997, the Black Women Film Network (BWFN) was founded to prepare black women to enter the film and television industries. The organization seeks to preserve the voice of these women through film and educational programs that empower and inform. A 501(c)3 non-profit, BWFN provides student scholarships, hosts screenings and workshops, and honors individuals who have excelled in this difficult industry. Visit BWFN online at Follow us on Instagram (@blackwomenfilm) and Facebook (TheBWFN).

Photo credit: 1) Sheryl Lee Ralphs. 2). Chill screenshot.

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