Shreveport Urban Film Festival aims to help aspiring artists

Shreveport Urban Film Festival empowers young artists
Jelea Jackson creates film that sheds light on sexual assault violence. (Source: Javonti Thomas/KSLA News 12)
Jelea Jackson creates film that sheds light on sexual assault violence. (Source: Javonti Thomas/KSLA News 12)

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - "Giving African-American filmmakers a fighting chance."

That's the purpose of the Shreveport Urban Film Festival.

Tanesha Morris, the festival's creator, says her vision was to provide filmmakers with opportunities to showcase their talents.

The one-day festival took place Saturday at Crystal Stairs in downtown Shreveport.

The festival features short films with African-American directors or writers.

Morris says the film industry lacks diversity, so she is working to break the ceiling. That's something she hopes to see more of in the film industry.

"I felt like there was a lack of African-American [voices] locally and national."

The festival brought movie makers from throughout the country, including New Orleans-based filmmaker Jalea Jackson, to Shreveport.

Jackson's film "Things with Feathers" details a sexual assault experience that is loosely based on her life.

"So many people are dealing with this issue," she says. "I wanted to create a film that talked about the subject."

Production of the film started before the #MeToo movement gained traction.

But since then, Jackson says, her film has garnered lots of attention.

"I think having this film in conjunction with the #MeToo movement really brings light to the issue."

Jackson thinks films like hers will serve as a message to change rape culture and how victims are treated.

The festival also sought to give the city of Shreveport a positive narrative, according to Morris.

She says events like the festival can change negative stereotypes about the community.

"You see a lot of shootings and killings in neighborhoods, but I feel there are more of us putting out positive things."

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