Only 15 Black creatives are nominated at this year’s Oscars. According to the BBC, a lack of representation in the media can increase minorities’ insecurity about their future career options in entertainment. With the first-ever ’Canes Black History Film Festival, United Black Students aims to turn that insecurity into confidence.
UM organization UBS and UTrailblazers will host the festival at the Cosford Cinema on Feb. 12 at 7 p.m.. Festival winners will receive $1,500 and participate in the ’Canes Los Angeles Film Showcase.
“The idea stemmed from allowing Black filmmakers to tell the stories of Black students on campus,” Alex Miller, co-president of UBS, said.
UBS is hosting the festival during Black History Month to promote the next generation of Black filmmakers. Partnering with UTrailblazers, the organization encourages Black creatives to push against industry standards and follow their own.
UTrailblazers is a memorial project that honors the first Black students at the University. Its installation next to the Dooley Memorial Building is a digital touch screen that recaps the inaugural Black students’ struggles.
With its installation, UTrailblazers aim to inspire Black students to fight for their dreams despite facing adversity. Consequently, UBS and UTrailblazers partnered to put Black artists at the forefront to challenge the entertainment industry’s exclusion of them.
“The industry has had difficulty supporting Black filmmakers and Black artists because they are not listening to what Black artists and filmmakers want to do,” Miller said. “Rather, they are bending the knee to certain trends in certain audiences that may not be as privy to Black art.”
The organization encourages the industry to give Black creatives greater power by showcasing unique stories from Black storytellers.
“It’ll open their eyes to some of the things Black students see and Black students have to deal with,” Miller said. “And then, it’ll also give students a little bit more leverage when it comes to expressing themselves toward those who are in power.”
Showcasing authentic Black art reflects the organization’s hope for entertainment’s future.
Destiny Wiggins, co-president of UBS, feels greater representation is needed behind the screen.
With the ’Canes Black History Film Festival, she works to show the possibilities of an industry that actively empowers Black creatives.
“Straying from a main narrative that only follows stories of oppression when really you can showcase all the different facets of what Black filmmakers can make or what kind of stories they can tell about the Black experience,” Wiggins said. “That would illustrate a more accepting environment.”
UBS hopes to inspire Black creatives to spearhead their own creations despite underrepresentation in the industry. When those spaces for Black artists aren’t available, Miller urges Black creatives to make them.
“They can be a trailblazer in that way,” Miller said. “If there aren’t any groups that may readily accept you, you can forge your own path in the world.”
Highlighting Black creatives with a festival helps the organizations’ goal to leave a permanent space for Black students on campus.
Follow @umiamiubs and @utrailblazers to see future events and ways you can stay involved throughout Black History Month.