From left: Aileen G. Olmedo, Tralynn Husbands, Secara Logan, Shamecca Lloyd
The films of four teenage girls were a new addition to this years African-American Women in Cinema Film Festival, which was held at the Tribeca Film Center. Screening of Our Youth, was hosted during the festivities last week by WABC anchorwoman Saundra Bookman at Robert DeNiros Tribeca Film Center.
The teenagers were chosen to take part in the screening after winning an essay contest. The films were financed by the Estate of Dorothy Dandridge.
The first film shown was Just a Feeling, by Aileen G. Olmedo, 16. It tells the story of a girl whose boyfriend has just dumped her. She walks around Central Park while confessing her hurt feelings to a girlfriend on her cell phone. At one point, she drops something, which a stranger, a boy, picks up. Unbeknownst to her, the boy follows her around the park and tries to get her attention so he can return the object. She eventually notices him, and a romance blossoms as they wander around the park.
Olmedo said that the original idea for the film came out of a novel she had wanted to write while spending a summer in New Jersey. The basic story was about two kids meeting on the street. The boy in the film was based on her first boyfriend. He was just goofy, she said with a giggle, and it shows in the film, which stars a boy sporting a hairdo of numerous gravity-defying spikes.
The next film shown was If Only She Knew, by 15-year-old Secara Logan, based on a true incident that happened to a friend of hers. The film is about a girl who has an appointment to meet her boyfriend in Central Park, but she gets sidetracked by another boy who asks her to hang out with him beforehand. At one point, she takes time out to call someone on her cell phone, and the boy puts a pill in her soda bottle. The girl ends up drinking the contaminated soda, which threatens her life.
The film has humorous moments, which had the audience laughing, but the ending was very serious, punctuated by the arrival of an ambulance in the last scene. I wanted to stress the point that there are a lot of drugs out there, and its a serious problem, said Logan.
Fifteeen-year old Shamecca Lloyds A City Within a City was the third film in the program. This documentary featured Lloyd touring Central Park by herself; a sort of personal odyssey through sites that include Bethesda Fountain; Strawberry Fields, where she paused for a moment of silence to honor John Lennon; and Cleopatras Needle. She even engaged in a virtual dialogue with a statue in the park that she nicknamed Billy, showcasing her sense of humor. Born and raised in the Bronx, I didnt know too much about Central Park, said Lloyd, so making the film was a learning experience in more ways than one.
The last film of the evening was Too Much, by Tralynn Husbands, 14. The narrative followed two close girlfriends, one of whom is very confident and well-loved by her mother. The other girl does not have supportive parents, and she ends up easily succumbing to the advances of two young thugs, who rape her.
The story was based on a friend of Husbands whose parents are not very encouraging. I was trying to show that lack of encouragement from parents can lead to bad things happening, said Husbands. She believes that parents who do not encourage their kids could drive them to seek validation elsewhere and make them vulnerable to exploitation by others.
Terra Renee, a filmmaker and executive producer of the festival, brought home the theme of parental influence by inviting her mother to come up on stage to thank her for her constant inspiration and encouragement. Her mothers enduring support inspired Renee, who is in her thirties, to help young women make their own movies, she said.