elevate film fest

University of Georgia’s Black Theatrical Ensemble will host the Elevate: Minority Short Film Festival in spring 2021. (Courtesy/Ellie Reingold)

As a creative way to showcase local filmmakers and highlight diversity and inclusion within the arts, the University of Georgia’s Black Theatrical Ensemble will host the Elevate: Minority Short Film Festival in spring 2021.

The festival will take place on April 10 as a drive-in event so attendees can efficiently social distance while still enjoying the lineup of films. In addition to the viewing aspect of the event, BTE will also host a panel of professional filmmakers who will answer questions and give advice to the festival’s participants.

Secretary of BTE Ellie Reingold said that she is excited for viewers to experience the Minority Short Film Festival and that she hopes it sufficiently serves BTE’s overall mission. As a troupe, BTE aims to present Afrocentric work about the Black experience to the campus community in any form of performance art, Reingold said.

“I think theater and film are really important creative outlets that have the chance to reach a lot of people and influence the way they think,” Reingold, a junior interdisciplinary theater and animation major, said.

Given that the arts play such an impactful role on peoples’ mindsets, Reingold said it is extremely important to highlight diverse voices and to adequately represent people of all backgrounds in this field. By doing so, viewers can become more educated on the personal experiences of living as a minority.

BTE encourages participating filmmakers to have a cast and crew that reflects diversity and inclusion within their projects. Reingold said that BTE is looking to highlight diversity in regards to race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, disabilities or religion. However, this won't affect students’ eligibility in participating in production in any capacity.

Along with participants of all backgrounds, Reingold said the Minority Short Film Festival also welcomes students of all majors to submit an entry. This was the case for second year health promotions major Elorm Adzadi, who described herself as an “oddball” in the grand scheme of filmmaking and production.

In October, Adzadi created a mini documentary entitled “A Journey Through Time: A Story of Perseverance.” Through fashion, dance, art and narration, Adzadi said her film aims to illustrate the history of Africa and its people from the 13th century to today.

“I think it’s cool that, even as a stem major, I got to express my creativity in different ways and not be limited by my field,” Adzadi said. “I knew [my documentary] had a very important story that I wanted to share with the world.”

Adzadi said her cast and crew reflected people of all backgrounds, as she was looking to have representation from all countries involved in the historical evolution of Africa from its colonization and slavery to the Harlem Renaissance and Black Lives Matter movement.

The theme of Adzadi’s film is perseverance, persistence and strength, which she believes will create a message that will resonate with viewers of all races, genders, religions and more. She hopes that her piece can impact the growth of inclusivity and diversity on UGA’s campus as well as in surrounding communities.

BTE is accepting film submissions until March 1, 2021 which can be sent as files or Vimeo or YouTube links. Films can be animated or live action, and every film must be a minimum of two minutes and a maximum of 20 minutes long. BTE will also accept pieces made pre-COVID-19, as it recognizes that movies may be more difficult to produce at this time.