Chad L. Coleman and Tim Reid in "Habeas Corpus."
After the success of the inaugural Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival last August, organizers decided to expand to the East Coast and raised more than $1,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to help launch a one-day event in Richmond. Set for Saturday, April 25, at Movieland’s Criterion Cinemas, the Richmond Diversity Film Festival aims to highlight stories about people of varying ethnicities, sexual orientations, ages, religions, disabilities and socioeconomic status.
“The premise of this event is the most exciting part for me” says Leslie Valenza, who is heading up the Richmond Diversity Film Festival. “I haven’t been able to find another film festival that encompasses all forms of diversity; which I think is really rare and fun.”
A Richmond resident who works in McGuireWoods’ marketing department, Valenza says that after she volunteered to help organize the L.A. festival, “I was so inspired by the filmmakers I met there, I wanted to bring the event to our community.”
Screenings will include feature-length and short films, student films and documentaries. The festival has five different blocks of time from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.. during which all 15 of the films in the festival will be screened. A Q&A will be held with some of the directors between the third and fourth blocks around 5:15 p.m. In the final block, the festival will show the documentary, You Have His Eyes, which won “Best in Fest Award” at the L.A. event in 2014. Otherwise, the Richmond line-up is different from the West Coast festival.
Virginia-based filmmakers directed two of the student films that will be screened. Booker T. Mattison's Habeas Corpus is a short film about the unexpected turn in a man’s life after stealing his father’s body from the funeral home. This film stars Richmond native Chad L. Coleman from The Walking Dead and Tim Reid, the Petersburg-based actor, director and producer known for his roles in shows such as WKRP in Cincinnati, Sister Sister, and That ‘70s Show. (Reid recently directed The Life and Times of Elizabeth Keckly, about a former slave from Dinwiddie who came to be a confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln in the White House.) Also featured are Jamie Hector from The Wire and the late Lee Chamberlin from All My Children (as well as one of the original cast members of The Electric Company). Mattison received his Bachelor of Science in mass communication from Norfolk State University and then went on to receive his Master of Fine Arts in film from New York University.
Carl T. Rogers directed Annabel Lee, a short student film based on the last complete poem composed by Edgar Allan Poe. It centers on a husband and wife who are “torn asunder by evil angels,” according to the event program. Rogers is currently an undergrad at Regent University in Virginia Beach.
Tickets are $5 per block at the door. For additional information regarding the program schedule, visit ladff.com.