Partner Spotlight: Black Girls Film Camp

When did your organization launch and why?

The first inaugural Black Girls Film Camp (BGFC) launched in April 2021 as a pilot project created by doctoral candidate Jimmeka Anderson, through her work with the Urban Education Collaborative at UNC Charlotte. Anderson formed partnerships with UNC Charlotte’s Film Studies Department, The Women + Girls Research Alliance, Black women filmmakers, and with her non-profit, I AM not the MEdia, Inc. For four weeks from May to June 2021, Anderson led an all-Black women team of award-winning film directors, professional video editors, community mentors, and Ph.D. students in the Urban Education Collaborative to create an interactive virtual learning experience for ten high school girls. One of the main goals of the camp was to create a counter-space for Black girls to be their most authentic selves, heal, collaborate, be expressive, feel heard, and
know that their experiences and stories mattered.

Special speakers for the camp included celebrity actress Ryan Destiny, academy award winner Karen Toliver, NAACP Image award winners Nichelle Tramble Spellman, Katrina O’Gilvie, and many more. Following the pilot, many of the Black women involved believed that the impact of this work was necessary to continue. Thus, the Black Girls Film Camp was incorporated into a national organization by a group of Black women in August 2021. Since the pilot, several influential partnerships have formed with the camp, such as the partnership with California Film Institute’s Mill Valley Film Festival, Women In Film LA, USC’s Critical Media Project, Emory University’s Center for Women, Tik Tok, and the Hue Collective.

What does your organization do? What are its main goals? Main projects?

BGFC is entering its second year in furthering its mission of creating a space for Black girls to tell their stories through film. The camp will be held virtually in Spring 2022, from March 26 to June 18, 2022, and targets high school Black girls between the ages of 13 and 18. Participants will be provided with their own professional production team, technology, and software to produce a powerful collection of short films on Black girlhood that will be showcased across various national public platforms, including film festivals, community, and college events across the US. Participants will meet award-winning filmmakers, film and TV executives, and this year will attend an all-expense-paid production retreat in Los Angeles, California, in partnership with USC’s Critical Media Project.

What makes your organization stand out? What would you say is the most unique thing about your organization?

The organization is more than just teaching young Black girls how to create their own film; it is also a transformative space for healing, support, visibility, and where Black girls feel affirmed that they matter and that their stories matter. BGFC works to not only provide a safe and creative outlet for young Black girls to express their true emotions, but it also exposes them to a lucrative career path – making connections with people in the film industry who look like them and can help to open doors.

What are recent projects or new resources that your organization would like to share with other NAMLE members?

On Saturday, June 25, 2022, the Black Girls Film Screening and Showcase event will be held both virtually and in-person in Charlotte, NC. The screening and showcase event is where the Black Girls Film Camp displays all the short films created in the camp and announces awards. This past year the camp, actress Ryan Destiny was the featured speaker for the event, which was live-streamed online with nearly 400 attendees viewing (in the inaugural year).

The Black Girls Film Camp also partners with academic institutions, schools, and organizations to host film screenings and panel discussions on an ongoing basis that feature the camp’s teen film directors and industry filmmakers.

What are the connections between the work of your organization and media literacy?

The organization combines critical media literacy, technology, and film production to empower high school Black girls to create counter-narratives through the art of storytelling regarding critical issues that influence their lives and identity. This camp also aspires to create an avenue for more Black girls to enter the media industry to positively impact the stories and representation of Black girls on both sides of the camera.

Why is media literacy important to your organization?

Media literacy is important, but more specifically, critical media literacy is important to the Black Girls Film Camp because it teaches us all to understand the influence of power structures in the media. Through media literacy, we learn that all media is constructed. We can also understand the connection of power (from those who have access to create, distribute, and fund the art), the construction of media, and how representation is influenced. Through critical media literacy, we can explore how historical representations have been extremely detrimental to marginalized groups and take action. Media literacy education has shown promise in deconstructing harmful representations of marginalized groups or lack thereof and empowering youth to become critical creators of media.

Please visit Black Girls Film Camp website to check out films created by teen directors or become a friend of BGFC on Instagram to check out photos and celebrate projects created by Black girls and women.

The views and opinions expressed in the Organizational Spotlight blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NAMLE or its members. The purpose of the Organizational Spotlight blog is to highlight our Organizational Partners and give them a place to share their reflections, opinions, and ideas.