The University of South Carolina’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMSA) put on USC’s first Black Film Festival this week in in the Russell House Theatre.
Organized by Lashawna Edmond, the assistant director of multicultural affairs, the festival ran from Oct. 1 from Oct. 5. Each night, a different film featuring black directors or an all-black cast were shown — including popular titles such as “Boyz in the Hood" and “The Wiz."
The Black Film Festival is part of the "Identity 365" program — OMSA's new events series dedicated to celebrating diversity and inclusivity.
“We have programs throughout the year that celebrate different identities, and not just specifically in historically cultural heritage months,” Edmond said. “For example, this is a Black Film Festival, but it’s not in February when most people would do something like this. Just understanding that we can do things outside of that and that people live their identities, they live their stories, 365 days of the year compared to just in one month.”
The festival was attended by a mix of USC students and faculty from a range of different majors. Although promoting inclusivity was the main goal, organizers also saw it as a way to recognize achievements in black culture.
“I think it just needs to be something more that even the black community does", second-year dance student Joseph Boyd said. “I think we as a community, we don’t celebrate our people in terms of other art areas that aren’t music and rap and things that are perceived as the culture, per say. But I do appreciate this event being put on tonight.”
The films ranged from the Jordan Peele’s popular hit “Get Out” to the 1971 film “Shaft,” which created the sub-genre blaxploitation. The Black Film Festival uses these films to highlight the unrecognized works of black directors and to tell history of filmography in black culture.
“'Shaft' was one of the first blaxploitation movies ... it’s like black people telling a story of how they want to be portrayed,” Edmond said. “If you think about the history of before that in the 1970s when black people were playing roles, they weren’t necessarily depicted in a positive light ... blaxploitation is kind of like them — African-Americans — retelling their stories and how they want to be seen in those films."
Christal Harvin, a second-year public relations and sociology student and executive board member of the Association of African American Students appreciates all that OMSA is doing to promote different cultures.
“I’m really happy that OMSA is doing things like this, that they’re trying to celebrate black culture all year-round,” Harvin said. “I just wanted to support the event and watch a movie that I like.”
In addition to the Black Film Festival, the Identity 365 program has also hosted events for National Coming Out Day, Transgender Day of Remembrance and both LGBTQ+ and Hispanic Heritage Months. The program's goal is to continue events promoting inclusivity and cultural awareness throughout the year.