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Columbus Black International Film Festival to showcase importance of black film in the 1990s

The ‘90s Black Film Renaissance Panel on Wednesday will feature Keya Crenshaw, Michael Artis & Chris Bournea. Credit: Courtesy of the Columbus Black International Film Festival

When looking at the most influential decades of film, the ‘90s stands out as one that helped shape today’s film industry.

Throughout the 1990s, black films influenced not only African-American culture, Cristyn Steward, founder/CEO of the Columbus Black International Film Festival said, but also impacted the film industry in general. The Columbus Black International Film Festival will hold a panel event Wednesday to discuss these pivotal films in honor of Black History Month.

“It was a time where the movies didn’t just have black characters, but the cast and crew were black, and they were telling stories about being black,” she said.

Films such as “New Jack City,” “Crooklyn” and “Blade” are more than just black films because the star is African-American. These films talk about the lives of black people but have also influenced film today, Chris Bournea, a Columbus-based filmmaker and one of the event’s panelists, said.

“A lot of millennials and Generation X grew up on ‘90s film, and it would influence guys like Ryan Coogler to make a great film like ‘Black Panther,’” Bournea, who graduated from Ohio State in 1998, said.

There have been many notable decades of black film, such as the 1970s or 2010s, but for Steward and Bournea, the ‘90s reign above all.

“After the success of Melvin Van Peebles’ ‘Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song’ in 1971, many white directors tried to tell the African-American story through the blaxploitation genre,” Steward said. “It wasn’t until his son, Mario Van Peebles, came out with ‘New Jack City’ did African-Americans get to tell their story again.”

Bournea said the ‘90s paved the way for more great black films to be made.

Both Bournea and Steward said they were excited to discuss these influential films at Ohio State because of its broad student population and the high caliber of intellectuals it produces.

“Ohio State is one of the largest universities, so I’m glad we can have the discussion here,” Bournea said. “I think it’s also relevant to talk about African-American film [and] culture during Black History Month.”

Steward said Columbus brings innovation to culture, and many great thinkers have come from the city and Ohio State.

The ‘90s Black Film Renaissance Panel will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, in room 006 of the Psychology Building.

 

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