Soothing saxophone music fills the room. Plates of mouth-watering, multi-ethnic food from several local restaurants are everywhere. Chatter about the film festival can be heard throughout the second annual Taste of Shaker Square.
This fundraising event was held Sept. 23. It raised money to help the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival (GCUFF) promote its message of diversity in film.
“There is a great diversity of food around the Square, excellent independent restaurants,” said event organizer Rhonda Crowder. “[Attendees] will also be introduced to the film festival.”
The event featured delicious food from nearly 10 local restaurants, including Zanzibar Soul Fusion, Juice Up, Dewey’s Pizza, Yours Truly and EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute.
The Taste of Shaker Square had a much-anticipated musical performance from featured saxophonist, Brittany Atterberry. Additionally, founder and CEO of Professional Inspiration, Chanelle McCloud, performed spoken word poetry at the event.
While at the Taste of Shaker Square, attendees were introduced to the GCUFF. This is an organization that showcases both emerging and known films and artists that contribute to the conversation about the culture of urban areas and how this culture is portrayed.
“It is a film festival designed to share stories by and about Africans across the diaspora, to provide a voice for unknown independent filmmakers,” said Crowder.
GCUFF is an organization that shows films for seven days as part of their annual festival. This year, the event started on Sept. 21 with a screening of “Love by Chance.” This past weekend they played “Holy Hustle,” “As Evil Does” and “90 Minutes of the Fever” as well as several others. On Friday, Sept. 29, they will be showing “One Last Prayer” as the closing film of the festival. They also host speakers, community screenings and special events apart from the festival itself.
“GCUFF showcases minority films, which reinforces positive images and dispels negative stereotypes,” writes GCUFF on their website. “The film festival provides a forum for the work of diverse filmmakers to be viewed and discussed.”
Beyond their goals of showing films to the public and changing the perception of minorities in film, GCUFF also has a youth film program. This program aims to introduce students to the film industry and types of films they have not experienced. Children in the program also get to participate in the creation of a film, video or short.
The GCUFF has held the Taste of Shaker Square event two years in a row to help raise money for their cause of educating the public and the youth about film and media portrayal.