Tucked between the bustle of Richmond’s Shockoe Slip is the original Urban Farmhouse Market and Cafe. A local favorite, Urban Farmhouse bolsters several spots throughout the city and prides themselves in their mission to “provide area residents with local, wholesome food in a warm, rustic environment.”
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It is inside this quaint bistro, Enjoli Moon, Founder, Creative Director, and Curator of the Afrikana Independent Film Festival sits quietly eating a cup of soup. A native of Richmond, Virginia — now affectionately christened RVA, she has seen the many faces of the city first-hand.
Moon began her journey four years ago. It was 2013, the city was changing. Moon had gone back to school at VCU and was making plans to go to film festivals in other towns. It was then, she began to play around with the idea of Richmond having its own film festival.
“I do not have a background in film or anything,” Moon offers. “I worked for Croaker’s Spot for ten years and there I planned several events. The original plan was to pitch the idea to a more established organization.” However, after speaking to close friend and owner of Croaker’s Spot restaurants, Neverett Eggleston III, Moon was empowered to launch the festival herself.
Before jumping in, Moon needed to be sure that Richmond was even interested. So, she began taking baby steps. Instead of a full multi-day festival, Moon started the Afrikana Noir Cinema Series. The series hosted short independent films by or about people of color. Each event was presented at different art galleries around town and included a post-screening Q&A with the filmmaker.
“Just take the first step. Just do it and trust that the universe will meet your efforts in kind. My experience has taught me that you will never be fully prepared.”
The success of the Noir series gave Moon the ability to launch other events including, Starry Night Cinema, Movies and Mimosas, and Evening with an Icon. Evening with an Icon has featured prolific luminaries like Sonya Sanchez and Angela Davis.
The events provided Moon with time to build her resources, cultivate relationships, and gain experience. While introducing Afrikana to Richmond, she was able to galvanize the community for the festival.
In September of 2016, Afrikana held its first multi-day event, The Afrikana Independent Film Festival.
The festival has been embraced with open arms by the greater Richmond community. The grand reception includes a diverse group of patrons.
“Don’t go into things thinking that you know how people think. A lot of the folks I am dealing with are white, middle age, some level of wealth, from Richmond… With our history, I assumed that I was going to hear nothing but Nos, but that is not the case,”
Moon says with a gracious smile. “What I have found in Richmond is that people are ready to evolve. They are ready to evolve from the tragic and ugly past that we have and hopefully move into a space where we are a more inclusive and genuine community.”
Moon is hopeful about the future of Afrikana. “I would love to see Afrikana help to facilitate the next generation of filmmakers finding their voice,” she says.
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“We live in a very interesting time. The way that people are combating a negative, rigid way of viewing the world is by forcing themselves to open up and hear various stories and talk to different people. Afrikana provides an opportunity to do that. There are many opportunities throughout the city, we offer one.”
“These are not just black stories for black people. These are black stories for everybody.”
2017’s festival will take place in September, with the tickets slated to go on sale in July. Afrikana Independent Film Festival a fiscally sponsored, not for profit organization. As a small grassroots organization, Afrikana is constantly in fundraising mode. From students to industry professionals they are also looking for talented people that share their vision. Click Here for more information on the Afrikana Independent Film Festival.
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