Chelsea Film Festival highlights stories by women, black directors

On its 10-year anniversary, the Chelsea Film Festival took place in New York with a line-up that featured many films created by women and black directors.

Like every year, the festival opened with a red carpet on Thursday and a powerful message from festival founders Ingrid Jean-Baptiste and Sonia Jean-Baptiste as actors and filmmakers assembled for the world premiere of Paul Tully’s “Replica.”

The festival offers a wide range of content, including short films, documentaries, features, TV series and virtual reality experiences, focusing on the theme of “global issues.” It empowers the work of risk-taking storytellers and remains committed to its mission to discover and develop independent artists and audiences all around the world.

In the 10th edition of the Chelsea Film Festival, women featured prominently, with 60 entries in the competition with four narrative features, 45 narrative short films, five documentary features and short films, three TV series/pilots and two virtual reality experience-based productions directed by women.

The second highlight of the festival is the other 17 titles directed by black directors, including one narrative feature, 13 narrative shorts, one documentary short and two TV series/pilots.

I think with this selection, the Chelsea Film Festival strives to increase international visibility while promoting women directors. We should also keep in mind that short movies are a vital part of the independent storytelling culture.

Here is a breakdown of two movies competing in the festival this year that I got the chance to see at this prestigious event.

‘Farah’

Directed by Kenton Oxley and Hassiba Freiha, the Lebanese film “Farah” was officially selected for the 10th anniversary of the Chelsea Film Festival where it was screened at Regal Cinemas Union Square.

“Farah” is a psychological thriller highlighting mental health issues and changing family dynamics in Beirut, Lebanon. The storyline revolves around a pre-med student, Lina, who starts experiencing nightmares. Eventually, she decides to see a doctor, who prescribes her the antidepressant, Xapa, also known in its illegal form as “joy.” Despite the support of her best friend Sami, her nightmares only worsen.

When a link between her and her birth mother, Farah, emerges Lina begins on a journey to uncover a web of family secrets, experiencing shattering revelations.

“Farah” first premiered at the Beirut International Women Film Festival and was showcased at the 11th edition of the San Diego Arab Film Festival (SDAFF). In adapting the story, the filmmakers have made significant changes, they’ve also given Lina a deep story that’s meant to be illuminated and a voice that has a say about her race.

Sociogenesis

“Sociogenesis” by Logan Baubady revolves around Elias, who is in a critical situation with his family. All of a sudden, a mysterious organization reaches out to him, asking him to carry out a terrorist attack. Elias accepts the offer at first but changes his mind, however, his life only gets worse as it is too late to back out.

With the stunning performance by actor Laurent Paris, the movie focuses on the overwhelming life story of Elias.

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