Black filmmakers ‘find their edge’ in Japan

BY BAYE MCNEIL

My alma mater, Long Island University in Brooklyn, is a couple of blocks from Spike Lee’s production company, 40 Acres and a Mule. He had a screening room at my school and, along with his staff, occasionally taught film production workshops back when I was there.

I joined those workshops, of course, and after graduation even worked on several independent films with friends. My aspiration is to get back into film again before my number’s called, either as a screenwriter or producer, so it is with a great deal of admiration and straight-up envy that I focus this month’s Black Eye on members of what I’ve deemed the Black Filmmakers Foundation, Tokyo Chapter (or BFF) — a group of brothers forging their dreams into reality, getting it done here in the Land of the Rising Sun!

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting these artists and viewing their cinematic visions, and each impressed me for a different reason. Their equipment, technical skills, education, background, styles and experience in the game vary. As does their level of accomplishment and notoriety. But what they all have in common is drive, enthusiasm and the wherewithal to see projects from conception to fruition. And, from my brief stint in the independent film-making industry — where virtually every aspect of every project is beset by setbacks and pitfalls, requiring the kind of resolve to stay the course that few people of any color or nationality possess — that’s saying a great deal.

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