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JUNE

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JULY

--Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Films
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AUGUST

--ACE Film Festival
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NOVEMBER

--African Diaspora Film Festival
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--Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival
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JANUARY

--Explorers Club Documentary Film Festival
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FEBRUARY

--NY Arab and South Asian Film Festival
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MARCH

--Craic Film Fleadh
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APRIL

--Brooklyn Underground Film Festival
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--Urban Visionaries Film Festival

MAY

--Bicycle Film Festival
--Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival
--NY International Children's Film Festival
--NY Minute Film Festival
--NY Polish Film Festival
--Pacifika: NY Hawaiian Film Festival
--Sundance at BAM
--Be Film / Tribeca Underground Film Festival

ONGOING --Animation Block
--Asbury Shorts of New York
--Caroline's Funny Film Shorts
--First Sundays Comedy Film Festival
--NewFilmmakers

NYC Film Festivals

Hip-Hop Hooray

By Annaliese Griffith

More than just a music genre, hip-hop represents a culture and style of artistic expression that extends far beyond beats and booty. The Hip-Hop Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to “facilitating, fostering and preserving hip-hop culture” (in the words of its mission statement), sponsors an annual festival that showcases new talent from the world of hip-hop filmmaking, providing exposure for a less-recognized side of the culture. As such, the fifth annual Hip-Hop Odyssey (H2O) International Film Festival kicks off tonight at the ImaginAsian Theater, screening the first of 85 movies in a variety of categories. H20 concludes June 16 with an awards celebration at BB King Blues Club in Times Square.

Stacey L’Air Lee-Easiley, H20’s director of media, has screened films, programmed the festival and generally curated the film portion of the Hip-Hop Association’s work since 2003. She explained that this year’s theme, “The World is Yours?”, is based on trends in the hip-hop world from 1990 to 1995. “The community itself was trying to project that ‘world is your oyster’ idea, that they really could do whatever they wanted,” she told The Reeler in a phone interview, while dropping off a film at the ImaginAsian for tonight’s screenings. In the past, she said, H20 has shown older films in addition to new works, but this year she received too many new submissions to highlight both.

In addition to presenting work by up-and-coming filmmakers, the festival offers guidance to new talent through workshops and panel discussions. While filmmaking education has always been an important component of H20, Lee-Easiley noted that last year’s narrative film submissions underscored the need for increased access to training for directors and actors. “You can tell they have the right idea, but just need a little direction,” she noted. In response, H20 is offering two workshop-oriented panels aimed at filmmakers this year: Filmmaking Techniques to Develop Your Game will feature directors, editors and producers from throughout the industry; In Living Color: The Hip-Hop Actor’s Studio gives the audience access to working actors, including several cast members from HBO’s acclaimed series The Wire. Other panels will discuss hip-hop’s role in education and activism and the ways women are shaping the hip-hop world.

A New Orleans native, Lee-Easiley said that she was particularly looking forward to Waters Rising, a film following a young couple’s troubled relationship through the chaos of Hurricane Katrina. She also emphasized H20’s activist side. “I don’t think civil rights and hip-hop are equated enough,” she said, adding that the film festival not only gives voice to a range of experience that mainstream cinema often overlooks, but also works to open young eyes to artistic possibilities outside the music industry.

The Hip-Hop Odyssey (H2O) International Film Festival runs through June 16 at the ImaginAsian Theater; for program and ticket information, visit the festival's Web site.

Posted at May 31, 2007 3:11 PM

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