Fostering a film culture

The Nickelodeon Theatre’s Indie Grits Film Festival continues through April 21 in Columbia. The State’s Otis Taylor interviewed the Nickelodeon’s executive director, Andy Smith, about the festival’s expansion into new demographics and what’s in store for the future.


In its seventh year, the festival presented by Nickelodeon Theatre has expanded beyond film to include food, theater art and music. Love, Peace and Hip Hop: Columbia Hip Hop Family Day, the festival held last Saturday on Main Street, undoubtedly introduced Indie Grits brand to a new demographic.

In January, Andy Smith, the Nick’s executive director, sat on a panel about race and cinema at Art House Convergence, the annual conference of independent art house theaters. It’s already difficult to have success in the independent film world because theaters are dependent on distributors for content. Now consider if distributors ignored certain films.

“Film distributors aren’t very supportive of black filmmakers,'”Smith said.

Ava DuVernay, who in 2012 became the first black woman to win the best director award at the Sundance Film Festival, was on the panel at the conference in Utah. Her film, “Middle of Nowhere,” screened at the Nick earlier this year. DuVernay is the founder of a boutique distribution company that supports independent black filmmakers.

There’s a ripe market for growth — in viewers and filmmakers — in Columbia, and that is a goal the Nick in seeking to achieve, in part, through the work of Sherard Duvall, the theater’s new media education director.

“We’re going to be working a lot with African-American males and some of the underserved communities here” Smith said. “We see the Nickelodeon making a long term investment, from education to exhibition. Because we have those tools, and then we’ve got the skills of Sherard as somebody who is going to be able to pull that off.”

Read the rest of the interview.

Via: The State

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