I have always been intrigued by the power of visual images on the mind. Way before I ever visited the country I have come to love so much and call home, the United States, I had a sense of its strength, power, dominance, but most importantly, its resilience.
I also somewhat erroneously thought that the streets of America were made of glass. Certainly, it was the stuff that dreams were made off. I remember my first visit and my disappointment as I stepped onto asphalt roads, instead of glass.
Sylvester Stallone has had an awesome comeback this year, but nothing for me will beat his roles in the Rambo series. Nothing beats the well-oiled muscle rebel that reached to me from those screens. No matter how beaten he was, at some point you knew from that look that he was about to make a comeback, and he always did. So did others like Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, etcetera, who always somehow, communicated that the American spirit was unbeatable. In a number of these films, at a very telling time, when the protagonist needed strength, perhaps, he would pull out a dirty American flag to wipe his face of sweat and blood and suddenly from within, his resilience would stand out and conquer all else.
ARGUABLY, THE UNITED STATES MOST IMPORTANT FOREIGN PROPAGANDA AND OUTREACH IS DONE THROUGH FILM AND MUSIC. HECK, EVEN HISTORY IS REWRITTEN.
How then is America able to succeed at this, when the rest of the world staggers along? Interestingly, America doesn’t have a lot of direct support for the Arts, compared to many European countries. America is however great at creating an enabling system that works. All we could talk about for instance this month was the upcoming Oscars. Dare I add, that Africa is mostly still very much in the dark ages regrettably, when it comes to its support for culture and the Arts! South Africa is somewhat ahead in the game and ‘wisely’ they have decided to reach out to the rest of the world outside of Africa. They perhaps reckon that it is better to move forward, towards the west, than engage with their clueless neighbors…
To my mind, the United States gets what the rest of the world is still struggling to clarify. Film is a key cultural diplomacy tool, a trade enabler, a global connector, and an employment creator; and with precision it employs it in its internal and foreign policy.
ABOVE ALL ELSE THOUGH, IS THE ABILITY OF FILM TO AFFECT AN INDIVIDUAL’S PERCEPTION OF REALITY; PERHAPS SO GRADUALLY THAT IT IS MISSED. WHICH MAKES IT EVEN MORE EFFECTIVE!
In my generation, I have witnessed an unprecedented morphing of the culture of my country. This is a phenomenon that perhaps most countries can identify with. Transformation is in language, in costume, in religion, in core family values, in the overall values of a generation… We unfortunately never stop to wonder what is at the core of this transformation. We are apt to grab onto the most obvious culprits.
I would think that if I ever really wanted to torture someone, or perhaps just change their grasp of reality or impress upon it, I would consistently play them sounds and show them images of the reality I seek to imprint.
As a filmmaker, I take my profession very seriously, for I understand that within my hands, I hold the key to the battle over the mind. It is for this reason that I was excited to become the Executive Director of the Black Star international film festival. As the world affects and impacts our reality, the world is also hungry to experience our reality. I hold in my hands the opportunity to begin a conversation and to explore an awakening to one. It is with excitement that we open submissions. Film festivals create opportunities for filmmakers to dig down into an understanding of the tool they hold in their hands, give audiences an opportunity to engage with filmmakers and in many instances, see films that they would never otherwise see or have in the cinema circuit, but most importantly, to have conversations around the films they see! Something one can never have at the cinema or during ones forlorn enjoyment of the medium. Film festivals create an opportunity to connect, to learn and to impact. Certainly we need a credible and forward thinking film festival in our corner and we reckoned we would start one. To learn more, visit www.bsiff.org We invite you to visit the center of the world you live in.
Written by Juliet Asante