The Arkansas Minority Film & Arts Association will screen nearly a dozen films over three days.
Corrigan Revels knew early on he wanted to go into film. He also knew it would be difficult because he lived in Arkansas, a nontraditional filming state, and he’s Black.
“Historically people of color have had to settle for roles definitely in front and behind the camera just to get to where they want to go,” Revels says.
In 2016, he attended his first film festival — the American Black Film Festival in Miami. Inspired by the experience, he later became the founder and executive director of the Arkansas Minority Film & Arts Association, a nonprofit dedicated to the development and exposure of filmmakers and artists of color. The organization is hosting its second annual film festival Sept. 16-18.
“Sometimes it takes someone of that community to do it the way that it’s going to be the most impactful,” Revels says. “It’s like the old quote: if there’s not a seat at the table, you just bring your own chair.”
The virtual three-day festival will include the screening of 10 short films and a panel discussion featuring four Black women working in the field of journalism. There will also be a screening of the feature film Dayveon followed by a question and answer session with Amman Abbasi, a Pakistani American writer, director, editor and composer from Little Rock. He premiered his film Dayveon at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
What makes this festival unique is “it’s for us and by us,” Revels says. The event focuses on race and ethnicity and last year’s festival included works from Arab, Asian, Black and Hispanic filmmakers. The goal is to continue to increase that representation.
“Everybody that’s of color still doesn’t have the same experiences, still have different stories to tell, still see things a little bit differently,” he says. “But ultimately, in good and bad ways, we do relate on a lot of levels when it comes to the experience in at least America.”
Films were submitted from around the country for the 2021 festival, but Revels says organizers wanted to specifically encourage Arkansas-based filmmakers of color to participate. One incentive is offering artists the opportunity to participate in the Natural category where they only compete against their Arkansas peers.
Having launched the festival amid the pandemic in 2020, Revels is familiar with the virtual format, but this year, he wants to focus on making participants feel connected. For example, attendees will have the ability to virtually network at their convenience through the online platform that’s hosting the festival.
“It’s a little bit more engaging this year to give you a real experience of what ideally an in-person film festival would be like,” he says.
While the festival has become a major focus of the nonprofit, Revels says the organization is more than that one event. In the future, he hopes to offer more programming that could lead up to the festival, which would be one of AMFAA’s premiere events. With the pandemic, a virtual festival surprisingly has been the best way to connect with people, he says.
“It’s been going well and we’ve gotten good feedback, but this is just a piece of the pie,” Revels says.
The second annual Arkansas Minority Film & Arts Association Film Festival is Sept. 16-18 and passes are $25. For tickets, a complete schedule and more information, visit AMFAA’s Facebook page.