Film Festival Returns Bringing Big Names to Hampton

Christian Thomas | Staff Writer

Hampton University’s annual film festival is back for its 6th year, and this year, the festival promises to bring big names to campus. Hampton students will have the opportunity to explore the world of film with campus activities such as film screenings, student showcases, discussions and talent spotlights, starting April 6.

Notable industry names, such as Emmy award-winning actor Keith David, award-winning documentary filmmaker Roy T. Anderson, and relative newcomer MeKai Curtis, will be in attendance to discuss their recent works. 

This year’s theme is “Crossing Generations of Black Film Brilliance,” and films like African Redemption and Tell Them We’re Rising will act as the festival’s focus. Power Book III: Raising Kanan’s lead actor Mekai Curtis will join the celebration Wednesday, April 6, to discuss his successes as a young actor in Hollywood. 

Students interested can spend the day watching the films such as Tell Them We’re Rising, Juice and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and then engage in the discussions. 

Thursday, April 7, will feature the films Fast Color, The Delivery Boy, African Redemption, along with a student film showcase. African Redemption director Roy T. Anderson will also discuss the importance of Marcus Garvey with the film’s narrator Keith David. 

Before directing films like African Redemption, Roy T. Anderson spent most of his career as a stuntman for notable actors such as Denzel Washington, Will Smith, and Jamie Foxx. The risky lifestyle has allowed him to pursue a career behind the camera as a director. 

Legendary actor Keith David has given audiences over four decades of films earning him three Emmy awards. Acting in over 300 roles throughout his career, David has starred in movies such as Dead Presidents, ATL and Barbershop

Finally, MeKai Curtis plays the lead character, Kanan Stark, in the popular Starz show Power Book III: Raising Kanan. Although his career has just begun to blossom, Curtis has already acted in numerous roles for Disney.

Professor Brarailty “Rel” Dowdell, Assistant Professor of English and Film Studies and Coordinator of the Mellon Center Hampton University Film Festival, said the visiting talent for this year’s festival could learn a lot from each other.

“Each one has had a different trajectory to success as an African-American in the most competitive of industries. Many would have not had the fortitude to embark on each one of these standout individuals’ respective journeys,” he said. “In many ways, each can learn from the other. That makes what makes the film and television industries so noteworthy.” 

Professor Dowdell said that this year’s festival will be different from previous years because it will “embody[] such unprecedented access to some of Hollywood’s most experienced and barrier-breaking stars from our culture.” 

 Professor Dowdell hopes students will have a lot to take away from this festival.

“The sky’s the limit and beyond,” he said. “I am grateful that my many years of Hollywood experience and subsequent success have enabled me to establish bonds with such notable entertainers to be able to bring them in person to the illustrious Hampton University. 

The festival will occur on April 6 and 7 in the Student Center theater during the day and the Student Center Ballroom in the evening.

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