This year marked the first time the film component was added to the festival and it did not disappointed as many works from the most talented and as-yet unexposed creators in America were exposed to the masses at Harlem MIST Studios.
Crafted with the help of Emelyn Stuart of Stuart Films and Celebrity A&R Anthony Jones, the Ocktober Music and Film Festival was a resounding hit as dignitaries like Dr. Ben Chavis, DJ Kool Herc and club music icon Colonel Abrams were all on hand to enjoy the quality content of some of the best and brightest creators of media you may never have heard of yet but whose notoriety is most certainly on the rise. Mr. Jones also stepped in as master of ceremonies during the closing night festivities as some of the hottest new names in music showed their wares to music and film executives alike. The evening featured a Q&A panel featuring A&Rs and music industry executives Kalvin Stevens, J Hatch, Michline Medina, Lance Pope, Donavan McLeod, Lady Life and rapper/label owner Mikey Jay.
Ocktober Music and Film Festival award winners were: “Full Circle” for Best Feature Film, “A Saturday is a Terrible Thing to Waste” for Best Short Film, “For Colored Boys” won for Best Web Series. Best Music Video went to “New Coons” featuring Ohene Cornelius. The Audience Award went to “Stay Cold, Stay Hungry”.
I had the chance to speak with actor Stephen Hill and director Eric Branco regarding the creative process surrounding this award-winning offering.
“The premise behind it is two lost souls collide,” said Hill. “It’s about two down and out people who get together and meet. It’s really about their relationship,” added Branco.
“They need each other from an emotional standpoint. They just need somebody who is going to be there for them. It’s something we have been working on for a while and I’m glad we have finally gotten it together and it’s finally done and we’re able to show it. We’re getting positive reactions,” he continued.
“We’ve seen it on a bigger screen several times now,” said Stephen Hill. “Just three weeks ago we won Best Feature Award at the Coney Island Film Festival. It was good to screen at MIST. Number one, because it’s in Harlem. It’s right around the corner from my house. It’s really nice to screen something in your neighborhood. Their facilities were beautiful as well. This particular film? Just for the record, a lot of people slept on us. So, we’re extremely grateful to the Ocktober Music and Film Festival for giving us the opportunity to screen right in my neighborhood.”
“Stay Cold, Stay Hungry” is still making rounds and is slated to show in other film festivals. I was unable to get any definitive word as to when this offering will be released nationally.
In addition, Thomas K. Phillips’ debut offering “The North Star”, which was the opening night offering, is based on the true story of Big Ben Jones and Moses Hopkins-two runaway slaves who escaped a Virginia plantation and made their way to Buckingham, Pennsylvania. It is not a typical slavery film in that, while the horrors of slavery cannot be sugar-coated, this film displays the fighting spirit of escaped Africans, as well as the lengths to which abolitionists of the day were willing to go to undermine the institution of slavery.
A full review on that film is come in the near future. If you missed it this year you may wish to keep the Ocktober Music and Film Festival in mind for your autumn entertainment slate next year.