The Hayti Heritage Film Festival will start this week in Durham. The festival focuses on celebrating both local and national black cinema, from documentaries to fictional shorts, along with food, a market and talk-backs with some of the film creators.
HHFF is one of the longest running Black film festivals in the nation, and it is celebrating its 24th season this year.
According to Lana Garland, the curator and executive producer of HHFF, this year the film festival revolves around some different themes such as Black love, Black history, diaspora and more. It will also include one segment specifically pointed at youth and another directed at seniors.
Garland said this festival has been a combined effort with the Hayti Heritage Center, the production team, the filmmakers and many more individuals.
“It is important to celebrate Black culture through film because it is human and it is universal,” Garland said.
She said the festival is an opportunity for everyone in Durham to not only learn more about black culture, but to also celebrate it.
Garland said she hopes HHFF will be a way for everyone in Durham and the surrounding areas to come together to learn and celebrate black culture together. Many similar film festivals are less accessible to those in the area, but this will bring the experience right into reach for people in the Triangle.
Along with the films, there will be a market and food trucks in the vicinity.
“This is a great opportunity for people of color and anyone else to learn something they don’t know about their own race and of different races," said Crystal E. Taylor, a Durham resident who plans to attend the festival. "I hope people of all races come out to this event and get inspired.”
This is not only a way for national films to be shown, but also a platform for locally produced documentaries to be seen and heard by members of their own communities.
“Any time people of color are given a platform to express themselves, people should listen because it wasn’t always that way," Taylor said. "This is a way for something to speak to us right where we live."
Some films that will be shown at the festival include Stefon Bristol’s "See You Yesterday," Isaac Hughes Green’s "Beyond All," Elegance Bratton’s "Walk For Me," Charles Burnett’s "Killer of Sheep" and many others.
“It will be cool to see all the struggles people go through to make these documentaries and how they have turned it into something beautiful to inspire us,” said Daleena Abraham, a 2016 UNC graduate and member of the production team.
The festival will be running Feb. 15 to Feb. 17 at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, but this event encourages audience members to continue the conversation long after the three festival days have come and gone.
“Film gives the lens on the human experience in a specific way," Garland said. "It speaks to all people."
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