The HBCU First LOOK Film Festival brought its inaugural festival to Howard University last weekend, and it was all about celebrating distinguished HBCU alumni in the film industry, along with shining a light on the next generation of filmmakers.

Over the three-day event, which was hosted by comedian and TV host Loni Love, attendees came together for panel discussions, curated screenings, networking opportunities and more.

The festival’s “A Celebration of Black Filmmakers Rooted in HBCU Culture” theme lived up to its name, as acclaimed HBCU alumni showed up at “The Mecca” to support the mission and give back to students aspiring to leave their own mark on the industry.

Festival founder Sheila Eldridge thanked the industry leaders for their overwhelming response to lend support to both inspire and educate festival attendees.

Support was shown by the Academy award-winning Black Panther costume designer and Hampton alumna, Ruth E. Carter, They Cloned Tyrone producer and Morehouse man, Stephen “Dr.” Love, All American: Homecoming star and FAMU Rattler, Peyton Alex Smith and more, including veteran actress Terri J. Vaughn.

Our very own, Cathy Hughes, founder and chairwoman of Urban One, Inc. was also a huge supporter of the festival and its commitment to celebrate Black films and provide a platform for students. As a personal mentor of Eldridge, dating back to her days at Howard, Ms. Hughes said she was eager to participate in the inaugural event.

HBCU First Look Film Festival

Source: TV One / TV One

On opening day, TV One presented “A Conversation with Urban One Founder and Chairperson, Cathy Hughes”, where seven HBCU First LOOK Film Challenge finalists were announced.

During the session, the network also awarded first-ever winner of the challenge, Cyan Shreve with a $5,000 grand prize check and internship for her thesis film Sincerely, Jonah.

The a Howard ’23 alumna described her project as an experimental underdog story that explores how 30-year-old Jonah navigates this reality in the midst of fatherhood & marriage.

HBCU First Look Film Festival

Source: TV One / TV One

The other six finalists were:
  • Photo Story – Jazz Johnson
  • Interception of Jayne Kennedy – Safiya Songhai
  • Depression Among Black And Minority College Students – David Brown
  • My Plan B – Anthony Parson
  • Footprints of An Angel – Tramar Pettaway + Anthony M.
  • Can I Grow Old – Terrance Leon George

The film challenge received over 150 submissions from HBCU students across the country, way more than expected, according to Eldridge.

The festival leader said her hope with the festival was that Hollywood and the broadcast industry would see the value of young graduates and the work that they do.

“It’s all about creating a pipeline and opportunity for students,” she told us.

As the HBCU First LOOK Film Festival remains committed to celebrating our stories, as does TV One with a new initiative highlighting HBCU life, culture and experience. Stay tuned for even more digital-exclusive content from TV One on the Yard.

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