The Tallahassee Film Festival is gearing up to present its third annual event at Florida A&M University and hopes to attract more African-American students and industry professionals.
During last year’s event, nearly 2,600 people showed up, and very few were Black.
“Last year, at FAMU’s film festival screening, there were only about a handful of African-American students in attendance,” said Jermaine Fletcher, 23, a graduate broadcast journalism student from Richmond, Va.
Some FAMU students think attending a film festival is taboo amongst the black community.
“Film festivals just don’t sound interesting to me,” said Rolanda Fowler, 19, a sophomore psychology student from Milwaukee, Wis. “I don’t like going to stuff like that, but I actually love movies.”
According to Brandon Dale, 20, an engineer student from West Palm Beach, the word “festival” sounds corny.
“I thought film festivals were for hippies,” Dale said. “I think of Woodstock when I hear ‘film festival.’ As soon as you put the word Tallahassee on there, I think it’s a waste of time. But when I hear Sundance Festival, I think of opportunity and fame.”
However, Dale said bringing guest speakers in the film industry to promote the festival would encourage some students to attend the events.
“Not necessarily celebrities, but bringing people who can relate to it and convince people they need to go can get people to come out,” Dale added.
Advertising film festivals specifically to the black community could also be a beneficial way to attract a diverse crowd.
Eric Wright, 22, an education student from Tampa said he would go if more black films were promoted.
“I’ll be more inclined to go if I see more people that look like us,” Wright said. “I would see a war movie called ‘Black soldier.’ The story lines can be cliché, but put people that look like us in it.”
According to Wright, if an accurate representation of black people is portrayed in movies, more people will want to go.
“Anything that tells our story the right way, 100 percent accurately, will get black people to go,” he said.
In addition to film festivals needing to target more blacks, some students believe they need to promote to more young adults.
Cynthia Bastien, 23, a biology student from Naples, said there is not enough publicity about film festivals among people her age.
“They’ll promote film festivals on the news,” Bastien said. “They should be at colleges ‘pubbing’ it. If not, you’ll just get older people going. Black people aren’t usually open to go to something they think only old people go to.”
According to Bastien, film festivals need to relate to her on a personal level.
She said the films do not have to be black films for her to like them because she enjoys variety, but they definitely need to appeal to her.