Nearly 11 years ago, Kathleen Bertrand and her boss at the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau were discussing how to make the city a premier destination to showcase stories about people of color in film and TV. That conversation inspired Bertrand to launch the BronzeLens Film Festival, a five-day event that gives the big-screen treatment to short films and feature-length movies.
Now in its 10th year, BronzeLens’s educational opportunities and programming have welcomed emerging filmmakers and actors, says Bertrand, the festival’s executive producer, as well as established talents like Issa Rae of HBO’s Insecure and Ava DuVernay, director of Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time. BronzeLens selections have later aired on television networks and streaming services such as BET, Bounce, and Netflix. Shorts that screen at the festival are eligible for consideration for the Oscars. Last year’s festival winner, Wale, was shortlisted for the Academy Awards.
For this year’s event, Bertrand and organizers considered submissions from more than 35 countries. Here’s a peek at what you won’t want to miss.
Directed by: Kia Moses and Adrian McDonald
Starring: Jermaine “Zbek” Nelson, Roheim Phillips
Runtime: 13 minutes
Though his father urges him to keep his head out of the clouds, Kemar—a young boy living in Jamaica—imagines taking a trip to the moon.
Evelyn x Evelyn
Directed by: Eric Pumphrey
Starring: Natalie Paul, Jocko Sims
Runtime: 13 minutes
Set in the mid-1950s, the film focuses on an anguished black couple after the death of their child.
Princess of the row
Directed by: Max Carlson
Starring: Tayler Buck, Edi Gathegi
Runtime: 85 minutes
Written by Alan Shawn Austin and Max Carlson, the movie centers on a 12-year-old girl who tries to look after her father, a mentally ill military veteran living on the streets of Skid Row in Los Angeles.
Directed by: Gregor Wilson
Starring: Keith David, Maria Howell
Runtime: 30 minutes
Husband-and-wife jazz vocalists—played by Platoon’s Keith David and Hidden Figures’ Maria Howell—are tested when one is diagnosed with dementia. A young musician looking after the husband in a care facility nurtures his memories and musical ambitions.
Directed by: Brett Smith
Starring: Malakai James, Raz Simone
Runtime: 16 minutes
A foster child escapes into his imagination and daydreams about Peter Pan’s island, Neverland—a place where all children without parents go.
BronzeLens Film Festival screenings and events will be held August 21–25 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, the Carter Center, and other venues. Passes start at $50 for students; awards tickets are $30.
This article appears in our August 2019 issue.