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School of Communications Embodies Community with Film Festival on the Yard

The jumbo screen that debuted the student films. Photo courtesy of the Cathy Hughes School of Communications Student Council.

Howard students often find unique ways to enrich their campus. Last month, picnic blankets, snacks and a shared love and appreciation for film filled The Yard.

Thanks to the efforts of the Howard University Student Association (HUSA) and the Cathy Hughes School of Communications (CHSOC) student council, students were able to participate and enjoy a Student Film Festival on the Yard to close out the semester. 

The event, which was open to everyone, was held on April 21 at 6 p.m. The announcement for student filmmakers to submit their work was posted on April 12, and 17 films were selected ranging from documentary narratives to drama, comedy and animation. The designated films were accompanied by various panel sessions with the filmmakers throughout the night, giving a better look into the minds of the young filmmakers. 

The night provided insight into the creativity and discipline maintained by many School of Communication students. Quincy Chester, a senior TV and film major, served not only as a participant, displaying his film “My Brother’s Keeper,” but played a role in getting the festival off the ground. 

As the director of event planning for the CHSOC council, Chester and the CHSOC student council president Alana Smith, partnered with HUSA to develop the film festival. Smith shared that producing the event was “the greatest feeling ever” and she was proud to showcase the students’ work with the rest of the school.

“Since my sophomore year, my dream was to host an independent film festival to give a platform for BIPOC filmmakers and provide a space for people to visualize themselves in characters who look like them,” Smith said. “Therefore, being in a position where I can create new traditions for all majors at Howard University is truly an honor. Stay tuned for the next SHINE SOC film festival in 2024!”

For Chester, this was also an opportunity to share the meaning behind his work with his fellow Howard students. His film “My Brother’s Keeper,” among others, is “very heavily predicated on love,” Chester explained. His goal is to dispel the myth of the black man, wherein they are seen as monolithic and void of softness and emotion. 

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“I’m excited for people to enjoy seeing themselves in my art and in my narratives…Doing it on Howard’s campus was really monumental because I’m doing it with people close to my age and they are already impacted by the narrative… once they get the message that’s everything,” Chester told The Hilltop. 

Students sit on blankets on The Yard. Photo courtesy of Cathy Hughes School of Communications Student Council.

The event drew students from every school, underlining the uniting nature that film always manages to create while also giving others the opportunity to understand the struggles of what it takes to create a film.

Not only did the festival give many students the long-awaited chance to showcase their films on a big screen after a long school year, but it was a moment for the School of Communications to further cultivate the supportive and inviting community that it prides itself on. For Trinity Lockett, a freshman TV and film major, this element “meant everything.” 

“It felt affirming that a lot of people are here to support others and not tear them down,” Lockett said. “I think that we as black people, as a youth, have a bad reputation of, ‘we’re going to laugh someone off the stage before they even get on’ and I think that’s what scares people, including me. So to see that not happen was refreshing, it was all support and love. I appreciated it.”

Despite the nerves of sharing their work, Lockett, who submitted their film entitled “Crossed,” expressed admiration and gratitude for the support and love they felt from the School of Communications environment when holding events like this one. 

“We can all always help each other. The person next to you could be your next producer, director of photography, writer, etc,” Chester said. “I got to meet my forever [director of photography] who is now my best friend. That’s what the film program gave me, people to actually work with for the long term. I am forever indebted to [The School of Communications] because it gave me those connections to keep for a lifetime.” 

Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman

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