McDaniel College associate professor Erin Watley selected eight films with themes of love and freedom to be shown as part of the Black American Film Festival at the Carroll Arts Center.
“I didn’t want to focus in on Black trauma, pain or enslavement,” Watley said, “even though those are important stories. I wanted to focus in on stories of love and freedom in the history, that we don’t necessarily get to see or learn about in school.”
“Pariah,” a 2011 film about a Brooklyn teenager juggling conflicting identities, is the next film in the series. It will be shown for free Friday at 7:30 p.m., at the Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster. No tickets are required.
After the screening, audiences will listen to perspectives from a Black community member and Watley will lead a discussion on the film. Attendees will be given take-home materials to help them pursue related topics.
Watley, an intercultural communication and media analysis professor, said discussing a film helps audiences take something away from the experience.
“There’s something unique that’s happening in that space that could not happen if you were just watching any of those films by yourself at home,” she said.
“Pariah” is the fifth of eight films screened biweekly at the Carroll Arts Center. Audience members have included college students, retirees and other community members. Anywhere from 20 to 100 people could attend a film screening, Watley said.
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“Just because it’s a Black American Film Festival doesn’t mean that it’s just for Black people,” she said. “These stories are unique, but also these stories are universal. That’s why I think it’s also important for them to get a bigger platform — for people to engage with this particular content — because everybody can take something from these stories.”
Patrons of the Carroll Arts Center had been asking for more ways to engage with diverse perspectives, Watley said. After teaching a modern Black history class in which anyone was welcome to attend screenings of films and television created by Black creators, Watley was chosen to select films and determine the festival’s format.
“Pariah” is rated R for sexual content and language, and has a run time of about 90 minutes.
On Dec. 2, the free screening will be “One Night in Miami,” a 2020 film in which Malcolm X and associates discuss the responsibility of being successful Black men during the Civil Rights movement in 1964.
“Fast Color,” a 2018 film about a woman with supernatural abilities who is on the run and must mend broken relationships with her mother and daughter, will be shown Dec. 16 after the short film “Hair Love.”
“One Night in Miami” is rated R for language throughout and “Fast Color” is rated PG-13 for a scene of violence and brief strong language.
Watley said she hopes the Black American Film Festival will become an annual event after a successful first year.