Hampton University
Hampton University School of Liberal Arts and Education Hosts 4th Annual Film Festival
12/06/2019 - #127

HAMPTON, Va. (December 6, 2019) – The Hampton University School of Liberal Arts and Education held its Fourth Annual Film Festival, November 12-14.  This year’s theme was “A Seat at The Table: Hampton to Hollywood, Nollywood and Beyond,” where speakers shared their expert knowledge on the topic. There were also film screenings, mic sessions and a panel discussion on how to secure a career in the film and television industry.

“Thank you to Professor Eleanor Earl for her diligent work in bringing Hollywood to Hampton University and to the Hampton Roads community by way of this annual Film Festival. The presenters were highly impressed with the future screenwriters Hampton University is developing,” said Dr. William R. Harvey, Hampton University’s President.

There was a record-breaking number of attendees at this year's festival, and there was standing room only for several screenings and post-film discussions. 

Keyera Williams, who is a producer for Will Smith’s Westbrook Entertainment, spoke on her experience trying to break into the film and television industry, and gave some valuable advice to the students in the audience.

“What is your passion versus your gift? I realized I’m passionate about a lot of things, a lot of causes. Something I’m gifted at is producing. It’s something that comes naturally to me, but there are other things that I’m passionate about that are a bit more of a challenge, so I’m always trying those things out. I ended up writing, producing and directing a short film. It was difficult for me, but figuring out what you’re passionate about is a huge key for success,” Williams said.

She also said to be authentic, have mentors, show up, network and believe in yourself.

A Memphis, TN native, Williams moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to work for an internship at BET under Hampton alumna, Robi Reed. Six months later, she became a Writer’s Assistant for BET’s The Xperiment, a late night variety show. Since then, she has worked at BuzzFeed, Genius, and now for Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith at Westbrook Inc. During the film festival, Williams also played her short film “Kinfolk,” which she wrote, produced and directed.

Leila Steinberg, who worked with Tupac over two decades ago, taught another Masterclass. She holds over three decades of artistry, producing, community organizing, management, projects and many titles to her credit. Steinberg’s work has drawn from street culture as well as a transcendental understanding of art’s power to heal and improve emotional states and behavior.

“Tupac changed my life. Those of you who write, know how important it is to tell your own stories or someone else is going to tell it for you, or it won’t be accurate,” said Steinberg, referring to the film “All Eyez on Me,” a biopic about Tupac. “I appreciate anybody that wants to go deeper and tell Pac’s story. I think he’s one of the most important people of our generation. He would be turning 50 now. If we want to honor Tupac, we should tell the truth. I’m responsible for not telling the truth and not using my voice, but I’m starting to.”

This year’s Hampton University Film Festival (HUFF) was a success. “It was the wonderful team effort of faculty, students and staff that led to the success of the 4th Annual Hampton University Film Festival. It seems to get bigger and better every year,” said Eleanor Earl, assistant professor English & film Studies and Director of The Hampton University Film Festival. “The School of Liberal Arts and Education, under the leadership of Dean Linda Malone-Colon, is pleased to spearhead this exciting and educational event annually. We truly believe the best is yet to come!”

The Festival was also a great collaboration with colleagues from across disciplines and schools. Professors Willie Moore and April Woodard, from The Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, moderated a well-received panel discussion and conducted an exciting masterclass, respectively. Award-winning cinematographer and producer, Hans Charles (Ava Duvernay’s “13th”) also screened his film and participated in panel discussions during the Festival.

“We've already started planning next year's film festival. A survey is being distributed to attendees that will offer quantifiable feedback on the three days of diverse content, dynamic guest speakers and networking. Our students are motivated to continue writing, producing original content and pursuing careers in film and television after they matriculate,” said Professor Earl. 

HUFF is sponsored by the School of Liberal Arts and Education, the Mellon Foundation and Kodak. For more information about Huff, please call 757-727-5506 or email huff@hamptonu.edu.

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