THE ATLANTA CHAPER OF THE LINKS, INCORPORATED PREMIERES STUDENT FILM FESTIVAL
By Shirley Henderson Coleman
Atlanta – It is Oscar season, but the Atlanta Chapter of the Links, Incorporated (“The Links”) has already picked its winners! On Sunday, April 18, 2021 the organization live-streamed its inaugural Green Screen Project Film Festival for HBCU students on Facebook and YouTube. The goal of the trailblazing event was “…to encourage, support and celebrate students of African ancestry as they pursue their interest in the film industry,“ explained Darlene Whittington, Vice President of Membership, on behalf of Dr. Lois C. Richardson, President of the Atlanta Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. The Links is an international non-profit organization of more than 16,000 accomplished African American women, dedicated to service and friendship.
The award for Best Documentary Film went to “Sweet Auburn’s Reading Room,” by Gabrielle Morse, a Spelman College, film student from Atlanta, GA. “My goal is to create imagery and stories that best represent the things that I find valuable,” she said of her work. Morse won the top prize of $1,000 for her work and a chance for her film to be shown at the Atlanta-based BronzeLens Film Festival, an Academy Award qualifying festival for the short film awards.
The Green Screen Project Film Festival was hosted by Broadway actor and singer, Maiesha McQueen and boasted a distinguished panel of judges, including Kathleen Bertrand, producer and founder of the BronzeLens Film Festival; Wendy Eley Jackson, CEO and Chairman of Auburn Avenue Films; Anjanette Levert, Lecturer, Documentary Filmmaking at Spelman College; and Dr. Alice F. Stephens, Assoc. Professor of Film and Television at Clark Atlanta University. Students from Spelman College, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University were invited to participate. All of the entries were 4-8 minute-long, documentary films. The Green Screen Project Film Festival commemorated International Women’s Day (March 8, 2021), a global day celebrating the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women.
Morse’s film, which was about the “For Keeps” bookstore and its proprietor, Rosa Duffy, also won in the Best Cinematography and Best Production Value categories. The first runner-up was ”Creating Looks,” a film by Stephanie Crawford, also a Spelman College student, who hails from Washington, DC. Her award included an $800 prize. Additionally, Crawford won in the Best Screen Play category. The festival also highlighted “Flo Jo,” a film by Maynard Jackson High School senior, Queen Couch. She received the Art Scholar Award of $400. “We wanted to provide an opportunity for HBCU, and high school students, to showcase their films and have their submissions evaluated by film industry experts,” said Nicole Franks, festival co-chair. “We definitely want to make this an annual event!” she continued.
Spear-headed by both the Arts Facet and the International Trends and Services Facet of the Atlanta Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, the Green Screen Project Film Festival was co-chaired by Carole Sykes and Nicole Franks, MD. The virtual festival was produced by emerging film artist and videographer, Collen “Colbie” Darden. Several African American, women filmmakers from throughout history were highlighted during the livestream event. To view the video of the event, including the winning films, visit WWW.ATLANTALINKSINC.ORG.
The Links, Incorporated is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations. Dedicated to a mission of service and friendship, its members consist of 16,000 professional women of color in 292 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and the United Kingdom. The Links’ members regularly contribute more than 500,000 documented service hours in their respective communities annually. Members contribute service in six Facets: Services to Youth, The Arts, National Trends and Services, International Trends and Services, and Health and Human Services.