Hayti Heritage Film Festival continues during Oscars weekend

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Saturday, March 9, 2024
Hayti Heritage Film Festival continues during Oscars weekend
"Everyone has a story and they're beautiful and they're diverse."

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- No one looked away from the silver screen Friday night.

The movie playing was a documentary about the town of Princeville and its proud and troubled history next to the Tar River in Edgecombe County.

This is one of many films getting a lot of eyeballs this Oscars weekend in the Bull City at the 29th annual Hayti Heritage Film Festival.

"My day job is actually working for a library but the other job, the other passion is filmmaking," said Jessica Chaney, who was in Durham from Memphis for the festival. "It's great to be here, great to have this wonderful platform and be in this community to share it."

She made the film "I AM" with Amanda Willoughby.

"We were so excited to be accepted to come here because this is our audience, this is our target," Willoughby said.

The film is about Black women and mental health.

"In our community, we don't talk about it and this film gives us the chance to open up that conversation," Willoughby said.

The other conversation is about representation throughout the film industry.

The ABC Data Journalism team dug into the lack of diversity among Academy voters and Oscar nominees and winners since the awards started in 1929.

"Everyone has a story and they're beautiful and they're diverse and they're varied and they truly all matter," said Chaney

The #Oscarssowhite movement helped move the needle but not enough.

"There are so many storytellers out there and creatives with phenomenal stories," said Tyra Dixon, the film festival director.

The festival not only shows films but also helps teach screenwriting.

"So why aren't they shown more or get more exposure?" Dixon wondered. "That's why we are here."

ABC11 is a proud sponsor of the 2024 Hayti Heritage Film Festival