sandra evers-manly

*The Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center [BHERC] presented the 21st Annual “Sistas Are Doing It For Themselves” film festival on Saturday, July 26 at the Raleigh Studios in Hollywood California which included screenings of several movie shorts all created by African American women from diverse backgrounds.

Sandra Evers-Manly (pictured above), president of the BHERC gave this statement exclusively to EURweb:

“[The “Sistas are Doing it for Themselves’ film festival] gives an opportunity to showcase films by black women to share their perspective. This showcase is one of three showcases done by the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center. The showcase requires that a woman is a director, writer or producer on the film. We are very excited about the films that we saw this evening. “

From among the seven films showcased at the festival, stand outs were “She Aint Got a Man,” a 24 minute documentary about successful women finding good husbands. Sheela Sharma, the film’s producer had this to say about her film:

“I think it hits allot of people at home. Especially in Los Angeles, it’s so hard for women to find a man. We [Sharma and writer/director/executive producer Helen Banks] felt like this project could be really inspirational to people to really look at themselves and what they are saying and what they are putting out there compared to what they want.”

A more dramatic take on filmmaking was displayed by Director Evita M. Castine, who took her U.S.C. classmate Thembi L. Banks’ script on sex trafficking and created a 13 minute visual masterpiece that was as full of color and quality lighting effects as it was full of heart breaking and dramatic scenes that ran the gamut from teen angst, parenting, rape, and solitude with “Only Light.”

The festival was moderated by entertainment and news reporter Mesha McDaniel.

“It was very powerful,” commented McDaniel, AN entertainment and news reporter who moderated the even. “The energy in the room was a very positive atmosphere. It was something that everyone should partake in and feel inspired. I felt inspired and motivated to get out there and support people who are doing great things in their lives.“

All the films shown at the festival were high quality; however a few of them came equipped with a star studded cast. Columbus Short, known for his roles in “Scandal” and “Cadillac Records” plays Joe Maxwell, an emotional artist involved in a sad breakup in “The End Again.”

“Hands to the Sky” was another relationship drama with a twist. While viewers are looking to see whether the gangster-thug uncle attempts to prove himself as the breadwinner of the family so that they can retain custody of the youngest sibling, it’s the autistic older brother that proves that he is capable of providing for the family. “Hands to the Sky” was directed by Kimberly A. Townes.

“It was a challenging story,” says Towns, “[Autism was] something that I didn’t have familiarity with. And that’s what attracted me to the project.“

“What I think this festival does,” adds Evers-Manly,“ is it gives a diverse perspective of films. So we saw everything from films dealing with relationships, to films dealing with autism. We try to make it an education showcase, so, some of the films cost as little as $500.00 to make and others cost as much as $25,000.00 to $30,000.00 to make.“

Following the “Sistas Are Doing It For Themselves” film festival, was a closing reception, that paid homage to the women who were showcased earlier. Held in Raleigh Studio’s Studio Café, the directors and producers mingled with the festival attendees, friends and family over light snacks and deserts.

The next festival, called “Reel Black Men Film Festival 2014” is scheduled for August 23, 2014 and will showcase up and coming films written and produced by African-Americans. For more on the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center go to www.bherc.org.

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REPRESENTING WOMEN: The panelist for the “Sistas are Doing it for Themselves” included Marcus J. Oliver (speaking) who stood in for the director for “Kenya’s Eyes” Kecia J. Benson. Other panelists included from left to right, Thembi L. Banks writer for “Only Light,” Carmen Williams writer/director/producer for “The Temptress,” Kimberly A. Townes director of “Hands to the Sky,” Helen Banks, producer/director/writer for “She Aint Got a Man” and Sheela Sharma producer for “She Aint Got a Man.”

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LEADING WOMEN: The panelists pose with Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (center with hat). From left to right, Kimberly Towns, Helen Banks, Sandra Evers-Manly, Sheela Sharma, Thembi L. Banks, Mesha McDaniel, and Carmen Williams.

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THE MODERATOR: Mesha McDaniel spoke elegantly, introducing the films and giving a brif history about the film makers and their female leaders.

Watch as Sandra Evers-Manly gives the lowdown on the “Sistas Are Doing it for Themselves” film festival: