Our Image, Ourselves

Fourth annual film festival celebrates African American culture and music

By Craig Lindsey October 24, 2013

Our Image Film & Arts Festival
Oct 25–26
Rice Media Center
Rice University
6100 Main Street (Corner of University and Stockton) 

The Our Image Film & Arts Festival, now in its fourth year, is once again on a mission to show black culture in all its multifaceted forms.

For founder and executive director Marc Newsome, who runs the festival with Monie Henderson, it’s mostly about giving those independent, African American films that play at other film fests a chance to shine in H-Town. “We’d see all these great films that never got mad distribution,” Newsome says. “Like, just brilliant, brilliant movies. Black characters, a strong, black director, a black writer or whatever. So, we decided to just stake our claim in Houston and start Our Image Film & Arts to show these positive works, by and about people coming from all over the globe.”

In years past, it’s been a festival where you could not only see black independent films (like Terence Nance’s An Oversimplication of Her Beauty, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 and has been making theatrical runs in art houses all over the country this year), but eclectic live performances. The second festival had A Tribe Called Quest DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad teaming up with Houston’s own, reunited Kashmere Stage Band for an extremely rare performance at the House of Blues.

The festival, which will go down on Friday and Saturday at Rice Media Center, continues to attract both intriguing black films and intriguing black artists. This year’s centerpiece film, showing tomorrow evening, is Tey, from French/Senegalese director Alain Gomis. The film stars poet/musician Saul Williams as a man who leaves America to return to the home of his birth. Williams will be available for a post-screening Q & A.

Several feature and short films will be shown on Saturday, including a block of films made by local filmmakers. There will also be a panel discussion on the portrayal of African Americans on contemporary television, touching on everything from the black characters on Scandal and Boardwalk Empire to, as Newsome calls them, “the ‘ratchet’ shows – Love & Hip Hop, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, those kinds of shows.”

On the live performance side of things, there will be an opening-night reception performance from acclaimed local rappers H.I.S.D. (DJ/photographer/bon vivant Flash Gordon Parks will also provide music for the reception.) Closing out the festival will be a performance from female duo Amira 3. “They are somebody new that I wasn’t familiar with before, but I liked their sound,” Newsome says of the closing-night act. “I guess I can compare them to Floetry or something, but not really. Their vocals are very quality.”

Newsome hopes that in the coming years the Our Image Film & Arts Festival will continue to bring more black culture to Houston, which is already seeing an artistic boom in the city’s black community. “In reality, there’s a really big, hardcore art movement out here,” says Newsome. “You know, [Houston-based artist] Robert Pruitt is doing all the shows in New York and L.A. A lot of the artists out here are really doing well. Ultimately, we want [the festival] to be a week-long thing, you know. And we want to have a bigger venue, where we have multiple screens going at the same time.”

Until then, we’ll just have to settle for two days of deep, smart, beautiful blackness.


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