Hampton University
Inaugural Hampton University Film Festival
03/23/2016 - #119

Hampton, Va -- The Hampton University School of Liberal Arts presented the inaugural Hampton University Film Festival (HUFF) March 28-30, on Hampton University’s campus. The goal of the festival was to use the medium of film to entertain and generate discussion on subjects relevant to the African-American community. 

Through a diverse slate of feature-length and short films, HUFF showcased visual stories that covered a wide range of topics that explore the African-American identity in its various forms. Topics included dating in the 21stcentury, black-on-black crime, fatherhood, prison reform, health disparities, the power of laughter in the African American community and much more. 

“The School of Liberal Arts is pleased to bring a touch of Hollywood to Hampton University and the Hampton Roads community by way of the Hampton University Film Festival,” said Eleanor Earl, Assistant Professor of English & Film Studies and Director, HUFF. “HUFF featured three exciting days of screenings, panel discussions and workshops. We made sure to have something for everyone!” 

The festival’s opening night, held March 28, 2016, film featured the award-winning “Knucklehead” starring Gbenga Akinnagbe (“Independence Day: Resurgence,” “The Wire,” “The Good Wife”) in Ogden Hall. Akinnagbe, Ben Bowman, the film’s co-writer and director, and Executive Producer Re’Shaun Frear, were in attendance opening night for a post-film discussion.

The festival also featured the world premiere of two short films adapted from the poems of former United States Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Rita Dove. The short adaptations were directed by Hampton University students for a course in the Film Studies Program. 

“I was intrigued and moved by the films of your students: “American Smooth” is a poignant depiction of the labyrinthine journey young lovers make, while “Exit” explores the options awaiting a young woman poised on the cusp of the rest of her life -- travel and opportunity, tradition and responsibilities, love and freedom. You must be very proud,” said Dove.

The festival also featured panel discussions on Fatherhood, Autism, African-American Identity And Faith-Based Films. As well as professional workshops on Branding for Film & Television, directing actors for the camera and how to break into the film & television industry.

Aside from the panel discussions, the festival included staged readings of original feature length screenplays written by HU students and dramatically presented by The Hampton Players and talented local actors. Award-winning actor and HU alumni, Stephen Hill ("Boardwalk Empire," "Lewis & Clark," "Christmas Wedding Baby") agreed to participate in staged readings, screen several of his films and conduct an acting workshop.

Virginia native and Hollywood actor Michael Copon, who has starred in such Hollywood productions as “Scorpion King,” “One Tree Hill” and “Bring It On,” premiered his feature film, “Worth the Price” at the festival. Copon directs and stars in the film, which was shot entirely in Hampton Roads, VA by Michael Copon Studios. This film is one of several screened that highlights Hampton University’s support of independent filmmaking in Virginia. 

Trailblazing film producer and casting director, Reuben Cannon, legendary film producer, Monty Ross and VP of Programming for BET/Centric, Jon Marc Sandifer, also participated as panelists during the festival. Two fan favorites from last month's Sundance Film Festival were planned to screen at HUFF this year-  Maya Angelou "And Still I Rise" and the closing night film, "How to Tell You’re a Douchebag."

All film screenings, workshops and panel discussions were free and open to the public. HUFF is sponsored by the School of Liberal Arts, the Mellon Foundation, and Kodak.

To learn more about HUFF, or to view the official HUFF schedule of events please visit: https://www.facebook.com/hamptonuniversityfilmfestival/

For more information about HUFF or the Film Studies Program please call: (757) 727-5506 or email: huff@hamptonu.edu.

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