The SOPAC Theater Loft filled with members of the South Orange and Maplewood (SOMA) communities on June 18, as they were brought together for the My Story screening of two-minute videos during the South Next Festival.
The three-day South Next festival included a film contest, art programs for children of various ages and musical performances from local artists.
My Story was organized by the Community Coalition on Race, a non-profit organization dedicated to integrating the diverse cultures and ethnicities present in the neighborhoods of SOMA, said Nancy Gagnier, the organization’s executive director.
This year The Community Coalition on Race, in partnership with
the Integration through the Arts Program, held a short film competition titled “My Story” in which contestants were challenged to tell a story of either South Orange or Maplewood in under two minutes. The audience at the screening voted for their top three favorites. To view the winners, visit the Coalition’s website here.
Each film submission drew on a different aspect of how the communities have developed themselves, according to a press release.
Seton Hall film professor Thomas Rondinella said this is one of many ways in which students can gain exposure to the film industry.
“Producers should strategically choose which festivals to submit their work into and aim high for festivals, but also submit for local and regional festivals, as they are more likely to accept local makers,” Rondinella said.
Through local cultural festivals such as South Next, film students are more likely to be accepted and can gain exposure and view what others in film are making, Rondinella added.
One film at South Next submitted by Barbara Velasquez, told the story of how she was born and raised in the South Orange and Maplewood community and how she has been an active member in the community for over 30 years.
Whether the films are two minutes or two hours, filmmakers should take advantage of the opportunity and should always be willing to show work in film festivals, Rondinella said.
Gagnier said that the Coalition on Race was founded in 1996 and through various programs such as Integration through the Arts and Multicultural Festivals, has promoted community building and support to increase diversity amongst the communities.
Fabian Carter can be reached at email@example.com.