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Film festival includes a spotlight on Black Experiences

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The state’s largest and longest-running film festival is back. The 28th annual Heartland International Film Festival will show more than 100 films Oct. 10-20 at locations across Indianapolis and in Franklin.

Some of the major titles at this year’s festival include “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” the film about the iconic Mister Rogers that will open the festival Oct. 10 at Newfields, and the Netflix original “Marriage Story.”

Film festivals can be a little intimidating to navigate, but film genres should make it easier to pick out what you’re most interested in. Genres range from comedy to sports to social justice.

There’s also a Black Experiences category. The Recorder interviewed directors from two of the films in that category — “The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion” and “Woman in Motion” — to talk about their films and why it’s important to tell these stories.

Lisa Cortés, co-director of “The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion,” said it took her team only about a year to make this documentary about how women in the hip hop and fashion industries influence culture in general.

Cortés started in the music business and worked with Def Jam and Mercury Records. She had a “wonderful set of male and female colleagues” in the hip hop business, she said, but the stories seemed to only focus on the men.

“Let’s reset a narrative that hasn’t been as inclusive as it should be for women who are part of the business,” Cortés said, “who are part of behind the scenes in crafting iconic looks that not only changed the look but have changed culture. Their impact is so wide and deep.”

“The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion” highlights the work of fashion designer Misa Hylton and streetwear designer April Walker, along with Dapper Dan and Kerby Jean-Raymond, whose influential work was showcased to the world in music videos.

The film is about that influence, yes, but it’s more than that, Cortés said.

“It’s also about history,” she said. “It is about the ability of African Americans to take straw and spin it into gold. From the moment that enslaved Africans arrived in America 400 years ago, we’ve been taking discarded elements and turning them into adornment.”

“The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion” has two showings: 3:15 p.m. Oct. 13 at AMC Traders Point Theater 7, 5920 W. 86th St., and 10:40 a.m. Oct. 19 at AMC Castleton Square Theater 5, 6020 E. 82nd St. Tickets are $13 at heartlandfilm.org.

Todd Thompson, who directed “Woman in Motion,” said he started off not knowing much about Nichelle Nichols, the African American woman who recruited some of the nation’s best astronauts — including those who went on to become the first African American, Asian and Latino men to fly in space — to NASA in 1977. Nichols was also an actor. She played Commander Nyota Uhra in “Star Trek.”

Thompson compared his documentary to the film “Hidden Figures,” the 2016 film about Black female mathematicians who worked for NASA during the space race.

“It’s gonna just open your eyes not only to a piece of history that you’ve probably never heard about,” Thompson said, “but you’re gonna walk away with a feeling of inspiration and a new outlook on the phrase ‘anything is possible.’”

“Woman in Motion” has two showings: 2:45 p.m. Oct. 13 at AMC Traders Point Theater 9 and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at AMC Castleton Square Theater 11. Tickets are $13 at heartlandfilm.org.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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