Image credit for Isisara Bey: Nichole Washington
September 25, 2022—The 2022 March On Washington Film Festival (MOWFF) will have its gala opening this Wednesday, September, September 28, 2022, and will include a broad and exciting range of in-person panels and on-demand offerings featuring veteran and emerging filmmakers.
Established in 2013 in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the festival serves as a national platform for telling, celebrating, and increasing awareness of the untold events of the Civil Rights movement, as well as its unsung contributors. The festival brings together filmmakers, academics, activists, and a general audience that is diverse in age, economic circumstances, social backgrounds, as well as ethnicity.
Isisara Bey is the MOWFF’s Artistic Director. A former Sony Entertainment executive for 20 years, Ms. Bey also is a producer, keynote speaker, cultural curator and facilitator of performances, conferences, festivals and workshops for her company, Journey Agent Productions.
We recently had the opportunity to dialogue about plans for the 2022 festival.
Donna Walker-Kuhne: Tell us about the March On Washington Film Festival.
Isisara Bey: The mission of the March On Washington Film Festival is to unearth the untold and mis-told stories of the icons and foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement. This is our 10th year of connecting the movement of the 1950s and 60s to contemporary issues of racial justice and inspiring a renewed spirit of activism.
Donna: How was the theme for this year’s festival selected?
Isisara: The theme is Story, Stage & Screen. Stories are the foundation of everything. Stories are passed down through laws, legends, fables, family histories, cultural expression, rituals, and customs. They shape our self-image and our world view. They are our connection to that which is greater than us, to our sense of destiny.
In this age of myriad media outlets, our stories are what we see in theater, film, and now virtual reality.
The history of African Americans in theater and film in this country spans over a century. We have evolved from being portrayed as horrid stereotypes, to having starring roles. We’re not only directing and producing films that center our stories, we are now creators of virtual reality projects.
Donna: What are you excited about for the festival?
Isisara: First, our schedule features a rich roster of films and special presentations that can be viewed on-demand.
Second, March on the World: Acting While Black. Each year we focus on the impact of the movement internationally; where our American struggle for Civil Rights has served as a role model. This year, we will travel to France with a film and panel on the issues of racial representation in French cinema, followed by an Afrobeat DJ dance party because, as Duke Ellington said, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”
I’m also excited about our offerings for young artists. There is a hands-on Next Narrative Monologue Performance & Workshop delivered by True Colors Theatre for developing compelling dramatic monologues; and the screening of the finalists’ films from a dozen countries in our Student & Emerging Filmmaker Competition.
Finally, we are staging the American Prophet Concert, featuring songs from the musical, American Prophet, on the life of Frederick Douglass, fresh off its run at Arena Stage in DC and on its way to Broadway.
This will be followed by a high-level roundtable discussion on diversity, equity and inclusion and the State of American Theater. The panel will feature the creative heads of The Apollo Theater, Woolly Mammoth, True Colors, Arena Stage and the Department of Theatre Arts at Howard University. Thank you for moderating the in-person and virtual panel, Donna!
Donna: This year’s honorees are Irene Gandy and George C. Wolfe. Why were they chosen?
Isisara: They embody versatility, artistry, and excellence. Their careers span several different roles in theater and film. Irene Gandy broke barriers as a publicist on Broadway and has parlayed her success into producing plays. George C. Wolfe is the multi-hyphenate writer, director and producer of award-winning plays and films. They just keep developing themselves and reaching for more, and inspiring us to march on!
Donna: Thanks, Isisara!