B Scene @ The Bishop: Women In Television and Film

Beford-Stuyvesant’s contemporary art gallery The Bishop housed a cluster of artists, filmmakers, and film lovers who gathered to view and celebrate the productions of women in film last week.
“B Scene @ The Bishop: Women in Television and Film” was organized by Brooklyn Free Speech, a television station that allows Brooklyn-based community producers to broadcast programming that highlights their perspective on a spectrum of issues. Brooklyn Free Speech provides a platform for artists who are rendered voiceless by traditional media circuits. Filmmakers Chante D. Graham, Sandi “Lady Elix” Soler, Soraya Soi Free, and Scarlett Wilson raised their voices in unison through their featured works of the evening.

 

Sandi "Lady Elix" Soler

Sandi “Lady Elix” Soler

The first screening was Soler’s Who’s That Lady Music Show. It is composed of different episodes of Indie Sounds and includes Jeremy Steig (Howlin’ for Judy), Black Sabbath (Paranoid), Harleighblu (Let Me Be), and The Dubber (South Cackalaki). The Washington, D.C.-native fondly reflected on her musical upbringing. “Music was always a part of school, whether it was for the glee club, school band, or so on.” Music has always been a constant in her life, but its wide shift from consciousness to materialism was the catalyst for her film. “I got tired of being sick and tired of the radio play list,” Soler shared. “What’s not being presented in mass media is balance,” she continued.

She said a variety of music should be played and cited rap music as an example. Soler reminisced about how rap music from the past was hard core with a substantive message whereas today’s songs fail to discuss the consequences of fast cars, fast money, and lots of women. “I want to display the history of music so generations coming up will have something to look forward to.” Soler loves featuring independent music artists to help further this goal. Musicians can follow her on Twitter (@WTLMS) for artist feature information.

 

Soraya Soi Free

Soraya Soi Free

Soraya Soi Free’s film For The Love of God generated the most discussion of the evening. The event’s second screening explores race relations by chronicling the friendship of Natural, an African-American man, and Justice, a Caucasian man. The pair became friends after Natural defended Justice against neighborhood bullies during childhood. Soi Free’s film quickly dives into the pool of complicated adulthood and reveals blisteringly sharp images of a reality too present for most of the audience.

A later scene in the film places Justice, Natural, and Natural’s family in a restaurant that has adopted a recent policy of “racial customer selectivity.” When Natural asks to be seated, the hostess tells him it will be a 90-minute wait. Justice, on the other hand, secures instant seating for the group when he mentions that his father is a partner in the town’s prestigious law firm. Natural tries to ignore the racial divisions but is forced to acknowledge its existence when he is arrested for using drugs, but Justice remains unpunished.

Soi Free said making the film was like “giving birth.” She recounted its parallels to her own life as an Afro-Latina who was spit on every day by African-American neighborhood kids. The audience was very vocal during the film, especially its opening scene with Natural’s dream of being chased by a slave catcher. The slave catcher is the same man who arrests Natural. “We’re still being chased by the slave catcher,” Soi Free said, comparing modern-day police to former slave masters. This film is the introduction to Soi Free’s upcoming webisode.

 

Scarlett Wilson

Scarlett Wilson

Scarlett Wilson’s Talk Stoopid has a light-hearted and relatable feel to it. The evening’s third screening featured Wilson and her friends, who were cheering her on in the audience, engaging in stoop talk. The stoop scene is very familiar to anyone who lives or has lived in a Brooklyn brownstone. Laughter ensued throughout the room when Wilson and her friends dash from the stoop to grab a passerby, whom they deem “The Handsome Man of the Month.” Wilson credits her friends as the impetus for Talk Stoopid. “One of my greatest inspiration–especially for this show–is my friends.” Her aspiration for the screening, which started as a web series, is to have an all-female produced show. Wilson said it’s important to “teach girls that anything is possible.” Future episodes of Talk Stoopid will be featured on BK Free Speech and will include more random conversations with Wilson and her friends.

 

Chante D. Graham

Chante D. Graham

The B Scene’s final film was created by Chante D. Graham, the event host and a BK Free Speech producer. Her screening, The Ladies of Madison Avenue, is the classy version of reality television. Graham’s series features a group of women who candidly discuss plastic surgery, weight, and the media’s dictations of what women should be in regard to their weight, hair, and skin. She created the show in 2011, around the rise of reality television shows.

Her impetus for producing The Ladies of Madison Avenue was a deep frustration with how reality shows were depicting Black women. “I wanted to create a platform where women could come together and talk about something without throwing bottles,” Chante said to the audience. She recommends that more shows be created to show Black women’s creativity. Graham is also an advocate of female unity in the film industry. “The most important thing we can do in this industry to help each other is to build bonds,” Graham proudly stated.

Growth through unity was the evening’s central theme. “Forming a sisterhood is very important, and it’s the only way we will succeed.” All heads nodded in agreement to Graham’s closing and prolific statement.

 

 

2 Comments

  • I really appreciate spreading the word about our productions. It’s very important for me to have Black women in the film and Television industry come together to create meaningful work. Thank you again!

    • Erma says:

      You are very welcome, Chante. I really enjoyed attending and covering the event. The work that you do is very much appreciated.

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