The recent dearth of actors and creators and projects depicting the lives of black folk up for nomination at the Academy Awards has been a broiling topic in the media this award season. But it is only the most recent example in what has been decades of talented individuals of African descent being overlooked.
In 2010, the ImageNation Cinema Foundation’s Revolution Awards was started by Moikgantsi Kgama to acknowledge individuals who inspire social change, innovators in the industry, to promote projects of the Black and Latino experience and to help bring about greater understanding throughout he African Diaspora. The legacy that these goals were flowed to the future on February 10th at the 6th Annual Revolution Awards.
This year director Ava Duvernay was honored with the Revolution Award for Trailblazing Achievements, Black Lives Matter activist Nakesha Lewis was on hand to receive the Freedom Award, celebrated journalist Melissa Harris-Perry was bestowed the Ida B. Wells Revolution Award for Excellence in Journalism, actress Danai Gurira was given the Revolution Award for Artistic Excellence, while actor Hill Harper was given the Revolution Award for Arts and Activism.
(Photo Credit: eurweb.com)
The evening’s festivities included a wine reception, performances by singers Candice Hoyes and Jeremy James as well as screenings of the Sway Calloway produced dramatic short film The Cycle and the film 1982, starring Hill Harper and directed by Tommy Oliver.
On hand to accept the Freedom Award with Nakesha Lewis was former Black Panther Party member Yasmeen Sutton. Actress Danai Gurira ("The Walking Dead") became emotional in accepting her award from actress Zanaib Jah and said it would galvanize her to continue upon her current mission of inclusion and diversity.
“I would like to see more women of African descent in film," said Gurira. "I have the ability to put stories on the page Then, dang it, I have no excuse. Much is expected of me. I have to continue and continue to put those stories on the page. So that you know Zainab Jah’s name really well. To find them jobs is my calling and my purpose. I am thankful that you have given me this award because sometimes you get caught up in all the work you’re doing and you forget that believe in it and they’re willing to affirm it. I am thankful for the affirmation, but what it also does it light that fire under me even more. Much is expected and I have to keep going.”
During a Q&A featuring Tommy Oliver, Dr. Jeff Gardere, actress Troi Zee and Hill Harper, moderated by Michaela angela Davis, Harper described the path 1982 must take in order to receive the attention it deserves from those responsible for Academy Awards nominations.
“With what happened with the Oscars and the Oscar folks and the industry claiming there are not enough films of so-called ‘quality’ with African-American actors to actually nominate. They say It’s not their fault that these films don’t exist. So, we are showing the film for a week in a L.A. starting Oscar weekend, February 26th. We specifically chose a lovely fine arts center which is in Beverly Hills on Wilshire because it’s a fine arts theater. That week’s screening, please let people know and have them come support it It’s going to show every day from the 26th to the 3rd of March. That film screening is going to make this film Oscar eligible for next year.”
“We’ve seen for years how all these young white girls get nominated for best supporting actress and oftentimes when and it propels their career for the next 20 years,” he told the audience. “I say Troi Zee should be nominated for best support actress. I believe her career could be transformed from that simple nomination. How Hollywood treats a movie like this is ‘Well, we can’t make any money off this so we’re not going to put any money behind it."
"What we’re going to do is send it straight to video on demand or send it straight to DVD. Obviously, if you do that it’s not Oscar eligible. We decided to take matters into our own hands, make it Oscar eligible and over time have a grassroots movement to have the movie in the conversation.”
1982 can be seen in the theater for one week in Los Angeles and goes to DVD and on Demand on March 1st.
For more information on ImageNation and the Revolution Awards log on to imagenation.us. Use hashtag #1982themovie when tweeting about this film.