Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Urbanworld FF: Runnin' down a dream

(Between Won't Back Down and a film with "Mary Jane" in the title, I felt the need to continue the Tom Petty theme.)

So did I mention how Being Mary Jane director Salim Akil made fun of me for having a cellphone camera? It was on Thursday, during the red carpet photo op prior to the movie, and both Akil and his wife, writer Mara Brock Akil, took their turn in front of the paparazzi. All the hotshot media people were there, with their digital cameras and video cameras and there I was, little ol' me, clutching my cellphone camera like a lifeline, thinking that if I just look like a serious journalist, I'll fit in. 

I hope Salim Akil's pic came out
as good as mine.
I imagine I did a better job of blending in than this guy in the back who tried to crash the red carpet earlier by taking pictures of his own, not realizing that this was for accredited members of the press only. He got into a shouting match with some shutterbug whom he leaned on a little too much. That was as bad as it got, though.

Anyway, the Akils arrived and the cameras flashed and clicked, and suddenly Akil sees me with my cellphone and laughed, saying something like, "Man, get a real camera! You're supposed to be a professional!" I suppose I could've explained to him that no, I'm not really a professional, I just play one on TV, but it's not like our paths were gonna cross again after that night, so I grinned and tried to play it off like it was no big deal. 

BET CEO Debra Lee
Fortunately, he wasn't mean about it - he came up to me, asked me my name, and shook my hand, joking that he'd buy me a camera. He even whipped out his own cellphone and took a picture of me as I took one of him.

I suppose it really isn't a big deal. I mean, if you had told me five years ago that I'd be snapping pictures of Hollywood film and TV stars on a for-real red carpet at a film festival, I wouldn't have believed it. But I made this happen, so I reckon it counts as one more milestone in my life. I won't always use a cellphone to take pictures, but it's what I've got right now, so it's what I use.

Once again, the tendency to see more movies than I have time for was a strong one. On Friday night I had to forego seeing another movie after Won't Back Down so that I could post some of my reviews. I had written them down in my notebook before, and now, sometime after 8:30, I was running around trying to find someplace that was (a) still open, (b) had wi-fi, and (c) had an outlet I could plug my laptop into. 

'Being Mary Jane' co-star
Tika Sumpter
Eventually I settled on the same cafe I used last year before going to Vija's party. They didn't close until ten, and I was the only customer in there, typing away as they started putting chairs upside-down on the tables.

I talked about the craziness of waiting for Middle of Nowhere, but I don't think I fully emphasized the excitement there was over this movie, and what that excitement means. It means that there is an audience that craves better movies by, for and about people of color. We don't have to settle for the same old Hollywood pap, and to see audiences turning out in large numbers (Nowhere was a sellout) is really encouraging. 

It would be even more encouraging if an Oscar campaign could get going for it (Original Screenplay? Actress?? Cinematography???), but even if it doesn't happen, everyone who has seen it knows its worth, which does not need to be measured in little gold men. And that goes for all the films that played at Urbanworld.

I'll have more pictures from the festival on my WSW Facebook page later in the week.

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