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16th Annual Oakland International Film Festival




The Oakland Film Society hosted the 16th annual Oakland International Film Festival (OIFF) from April 3-7. The festival commemorated the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was murdered on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968.

Over the five day festival, 65 films were screened throughout the city at Jack London Regal Theatre, Holy Names University and the Grand Lake Theater. From shorts to feature length films, from comedy to drama, the festival provided guests with humorous, thought provoking and entertaining films.

“This year as we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we also exercise the creativity and platforms we did not have in the past,” said David N. Roach, Co-founder and director of the OIFF. “Were it not for Dr. King and many of our civil rights leaders, we would not be afforded the freedoms we have today.”

Roach considers independent filmmaking a labor of love. With the resources and support, Roach says aspiring filmmakers can be successful.

“We host a filmmaker panel discussion giving the community an opportunity to network with artists and learn about their experiences in the industry,” he said.

The art of storytelling, preparation for filming, and the differences between narratives versus documentary style projects were a topic of discussion. Guests were given insight from filmmakers Lyntoria Newton, Josh Freund, Tamara Perkins, Mario Piazza and Cheryl Fabio on documentary filmmaking.

Fabio discussed her film,”Evolutionary Blues – West Oakland’s Music Legacy,” featuring dozens of conversations with artists. Melody Miller, Brad Bailey, Derek Knowles and Jack Wright also provided insight.

The film “Melody Makers” showcased the legacy of Melody Maker magazine, a weekly jazz musician’s trade paper founded in the 1920’s that became a pop culture phenomenon due to the iconic black and white photos of photographer, Barrie Wentzell.

Director Nakao Haider attended his screening of “Shot in the Dark,” a basketball documentary executive produced by Dwayne Wade and Chance the Rapper, titled “Shot In the Dark”, focused on their hometown of Chicago.

“Resistance at Tule Lake” told the long-suppressed story of 12,000 Japanese Americans who courageously resisted the U.S. government’s program of mass incarceration during World War II.

John Eddins flew in from Los Angeles for his screening of “PAWG-Day 12”, his humorous, yet thoughtful lesson on what it means to be a “soul mate.”

The film begins as a young African American man, with the help of his best friend, seeks to reclaim his fiancé 12 days after a supernatural event grants him a complicated new lease on life & love.

“I hope to turn the film into a series,” he said.

Other films included “The Psychosis of Whiteness”, ”Marvin Booker Was Murdered”, “Forgiveness”, “She Started It”, “Ellos” , “Down Under”, “Plant Codes”, “Yemanja”, and “Guangzhou Dream Factory”.

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