Black Warrior showcases up and coming creative minds


CW / Keely Brewer

Sophie Muir-Taylor, Contributing Writer

The Black Warrior Film Festival was a two-day event that took place Feb. 21 and 22 at the Ferguson Student Center. This festival is a platform for students to showcase their pieces, while also learning the ins and outs of the industry. Screening films from students across the nation, the festival is a competitive yet awe-inspiring production. 

The smell of freshly popped popcorn filled the Ferguson Student Center’s theater Saturday evening as people gathered together to enjoy short film masterpieces. Lights dimmed as the room hushed, anticipating the story that was about to unfold. Film after film, viewers were transported into various features like documentaries, comedies and dramas. 

Megan Friend, the festival co-director, was eagerly anticipating this year’s event. A junior majoring in creative media, she got a new perspective in her freshman year about the industry she felt weary about entering because of the festival.

 “I felt like going to the festival opened so many opportunities for me and showed me how I could pursue film as a career,” Friend said. 

Friend said the industry was “new territory” for her, but the festival offered her an intimate setting to dive deeper into the world of creative media. Not only is it an inspiring event, but it offers students tangible feedback. 

The festival is split into film blocks, panels and workshops for students to engage in. The blocks cover categories such as drama, documentary, comedy and horror, ending with the Holle Award block. 

Among these aspiring cinematographers was Tuscaloosa native Audrey Stephens, a senior majoring in creative media. Her drama blocked film “Bruno in Color” was loosely inspired by her father, who was anticipating the screening amidst the crowd.

Stephens has had a love for film since she knew how to work a camera. The featured film was her first to be shown on the big screen, and the experience it offered was a thrilling one. Her friends and family gathered around her to support the months of work that went behind the short yet touching film. 

Stephens’s sister Laura Stephens said that “she was so so excited when she found out her film was going to be screened, and honestly this has always been her passion,” recalling childhood memories of her sister constantly with a camera. 

“She just loves it,” Laura Stephens said. “She loves to create.”

This film, surrounded by many others, was dynamic. Each block offered a new emotion for the audience to experience, while the individual films all varied extensively in content. Some films were filled with tense tragedies, others aimed to bring laughter, while some were deeply educational. 

The festival provides a platform for students to show off the hard work that goes behind each ingenious film. Friend was delighted as she said, “In all of the blocks, there is a large amount of Alabama films, and the film department is pretty tight-knit, so I’m excited for everyone to see their work and see their stuff on the big screen with a crowd.”

The welcoming environment draws an audience with mixed interests. Whether you are an ardent film lover, an aimlessly wandering student or looking for a weekend event, this is for you. With this open invitation, featured filmmakers are able to experience their films with an assortment of people. This valuable production gives these striving cinematographers an authentic, true-to-life moment to sit back and relish their creation. 

The festival was capped off with the Holle Awards, which had five films up for the honor. This year, four of the five were Alabama filmmaker’s projects, with the winner being Magdalene Kennedy, of The University of Alabama, with her film “Losing Face.”  

[It is] a weekend full of the best of the best student films from across the country and from Alabama’s film department and a series of panels and workshops, where you can learn all about the ins and outs of independent filmmaking,” Friend said.