For Filmmakers and Film Fans
Wide-Angle Lens, a panel discussion on diversity and opportunity in filmmaking, with Chris Everett, Aby Rao, Charlene Regester, and Monique Velasquez; moderated by Lana Garland
Saturday, May 11, 11 a.m. to noon
Demonstration Gallery (lobby level). Bring your questions!
People have been making films in North Carolina for more than 100 years—and in all 100 counties! Like just about everywhere, most of those filmmakers have been white. And male. So, what is the “state of the state” for filmmakers of color? What opportunities exist for the many diverse people working to make movies in North Carolina today? And, what challenges remain? Explore the history and current times of filmmaking through a “wide-angle lens.”
Christopher Everett is communications manager of Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham. He is a film director, film producer, social media specialist, and graphic artist from Laurinburg (Scotland County). A graduate of King’s College in Charlotte, with a degree in graphic design, Christopher founded Speller Street Films LLC in 2015 as he produced and directed the award-winning documentary Wilmington on Fire. Through various grassroots marketing efforts, the film has won four awards and is still screening at film festivals. Christopher and Speller Street Films recently acquired the distribution rights to the 2002 cult classic As an Act of Protest and are currently remastering, with plans to release the film on DVD. Christopher also consults on social media strategies, community engagement, and programming.
Aby Rao is an Asian-American filmmaker, writer, director, and producer, based in Morrisville who started his entertainment career in 2009 by producing mini-documentaries for WYBE, then a public television outlet in Philadelphia. His 2018 film Parallel Parking made it to the second round of the 2014 Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab, then received a “Filmed in NC” grant, which supports original and singular works by independent artists working in North Carolina. His portfolio of work has received vast success in film festivals—including Cucalorus, the Carrboro Film Festival, and Seattle’s Tasveer South Asian Film Festival—as well as ShortsTV (a cable and satellite television channel dedicated to short films, including Academy Award nominated short films) and other online distribution platforms.
Charlene Regester is an associate professor in the Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, and she is faculty affiliate with the global cinema minor there. Charlene has been featured in such documentaries as Birth of a Movement and Movies of Color: Black Southern Cinema, and she has appeared on North Carolina Bookwatch and on I’ll Make Me a World. She also serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Film and Video and Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries and has written for Film History, Literature/Film Quarterly, Journal of Film and Video, Popular Culture Review, Popular Music and Society, Screening Noir, Studies in American Culture, and Western Journal of Black Studies. And, she is the author of African American Actresses: The Struggle for Visibility, 1900–1960 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010; nominated for an NAACP Image Award).
Monique Velasquez shoots and edits in HD with 4K resolution because “life is too short not to!” She has an MFA in cinema and is cocreator of the original series Frequency, as well as short films Remember Me, Spin: A Short Love Story, and Queen of Hearts—stories where woman prevail. She is a principal at VelasquezMedia.com and KV Works. When not creating new media, Monique helps friends create fabulous art.
Lana Garland, who is moderating this panel, has worked as a creative director, a director, and a writer/producer, creating content for such networks as BET, ESPN, and Denmark’s TV2. In documentary film, she has worked on Bowling for Columbine with director Michael Moore, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool (Independent Television Service and PBS), and Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives (HBO) with actors Samuel L. Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Don Cheadle, and more. In the realm of short film, her works include Rapture and AfterLife. Lana has received the Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artists Award and a filmmaking grant from the Southern Documentary Fund for a project on African American washerwomen. Her company, Insibah Media, is based in Durham and creates documentaries, webseries, and marketing videos for the Internet and for broadcast and cable TV.
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