Bright Lights on Dark Days

Indie films dramatically highlight reality of Black life

Chelsea Jones | 5/1/2014, 7:42 p.m.
Movie lovers viewed and critiqued more than 170 independent films and attended a series of panel discussions, filmmaker Q&As, galas ...
Sayeeda Porter, portrayed by Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris, during the elevator scene with Lt. Torres, a chaplain protrayed by Carlo Alban, and Maj. Dandridge protrayed by Hisham Tawfiq, in The Bravest, the Boldest. Courtesy of the Dallas International Film Festival

The Dallas Examiner

Movie lovers viewed and critiqued more than 170 independent films and attended a series of panel discussions, filmmaker Q&As, galas and more at the 2014 Dallas International Film Festival, held April 3 through April 13. A product of the Dallas Film Society, the festival, which is in its eighth year, was presented by AutoNation and sponsored by over 60 businesses.

The purpose of the event was to support the art of filmmaking by showcasing “quality independent films” from all over the world and by presenting the work of local filmmakers on an international stage, according to DFS. Attendees could obtain festival passes that ranged from $100 to $750 or individual screening tickets for $12.

Screening venues included the Angelika Film Center, Texas Theater, Dallas City Performance Hall and Cinemark West Plano. Filmmakers competed to win grand jury prizes, audience awards, the Silver Heart Award and “movie magic” prizes that honored the best films. Winners received money, equipment rental packages, or budgeting and scheduling software.

The festival also granted Dallas Star Awards to individuals who have made important contributions to the advancement of modern cinema. One of the three recipients was Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first African American President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and only the third woman to hold the office.

Festival films such as The Bravest, the Boldest; Brothers of a Black List and 1982 offered stories from an African American perspective.

The Bravest, the Boldest

The film tells the story of a mother who refuses to confront two casualty notification officers trying to inform her that her son has been killed in the war.

Set in the Harlem projects, the film begins with Sayeeda Porter (Luqmaan-Harris) washing clothes in the laundry room. She is chatting with an older woman, Miss Jeanette (Evans).

Outside in the parking lot are Lt. Torres (Alban), a chaplain, and Maj. Dandridge (Tawfiq). The two are disputing the need for prayer in telling bad news.

Porter leaves the laundry room, gets on the elevator, and pushes the button for the 17th floor. Dandridge and Torres get on the elevator as well.

Porter grows nervous after seeing the two; and once she realizes that they are headed to her floor, she panics. The film depicts her anxiety by silencing the sound of the film and showing close-ups of her breathing hard as her hand clenches her clothes basket and beads of sweats form on her forehead.

When the elevator stops on her floor, Porter doesn’t exit. Instead, she tells the two men that she’s headed to the 20th floor, which provides access to the building’s roof.

On the roof, Porter, stares dazed at the expanse of buildings surrounding her. A young man who is also on the roof approaches her and asks if she is about to jump.

She tells him no and then mentions how she remembered when he and her son used to play together as children. Porter stays on the roof until nightfall.

When Dandridge and Torres arrive at Porter’s apartment, her two nieces greet them. They tell the two officers that their aunt is in the laundry room and entertain them with cheer routines.