Articles about the Heritage Film Festival

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The Heritage Film Festival continues to be a free, well received annual community event sponsored by the Liberal Arts Division at Prince George's Community College. Click on the links below to read some of the articles about the Festival.

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Brenda Ahearn/The Gazette
Faraday Okoro of Riverdale is one of the filmmakers scheduled to screen their movies at the Heritage Film Festival at Prince George's Community College.

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PGCC hosts area's first Heritage filmfest

By Erin Whiting
Special to The Owl

The Heritage Film Festival , whose theme was "Everyone has a story" and featured twenty-nine films created by local artists, was presented March 25 at PGCC.
This was the first time the film festival was presented at PGCC.
Funilay Makarah, director and organizer for the event, said the festival was a means for her to "share my curiosity and my passion for independent media..." This opportunity to reach out to the community was particularly significant for the youth, Makarah explains. "It was really gratifying to see young people making films. It's important to reach out to young people." Makarah says she hopes the festival will "inspire the viewer to pick up a camera and tell a story."
Makarah said PGCC was a perfect location to showcase the event, both geographically as well as culturally. "[PGCC] is centrally located, and the culture of the college is really in tune with the vision of the festival." Makarah went on to say that the college was very cooperative in sponsoring the event. "It was a really supportive environment. Dr. [Robert] Barshay and Shelly Fisher [of College Life Services] were absolutely wonderful."
The films presented at the festival ranged in themes and production styles. Lasting from thirty seconds to ten minutes, the subject matters of the films varied from the light concepts of horseback riding, kung fu comedy, and bathing a pet to the more serious social issues of HIV/AIDS, family issues, prejudices, war, and environmental awareness. While there were serious issues addressed in the films, the material stayed within boundaries considered appropriate for all audiences. Barshay asserts that though the festival is not trying to censor the filmmakers, "we have to respect the values of the community."
The films' genres varied from animation shorts to works of Claymation, black and white films, documentaries, and one experimental abstract short simply showing the flow of shapes of lights on a screen.
The festival's sponsors were led by the college's Liberal Arts Department, headed by Barshay, who is dean. Barshay said the event was an important for the Prince George's County public because it promotes diverse interaction. "The college has always been interested in reaching out to the community," he explains. "And [the festival] gives [the community] a forum to express their voice."
He told The Owl that the division would welcome a return engagement of the festival.
The diversity of films reflected the diversity of the filmmakers. They ranged in ages, from under twelve to middle aged and older. Several of the filmmakers were students from the Thomas Pullen School. Their "historical moments" films were part of a school project, featuring staged interviews of historical African Americans. Similarly, there were two films created by college film students as school assignments. Andrew Payton, a film major at Towson University, presented a piece entitled "Misadventures of Drifting Laterally," a film about the experience of leaving home. American University students Kasey Kirby and Liang Cai offered a comedic piece about paranoia and kung fu.
Youths from the Greenbelt Access Television's (GATE) film classes presented animated shorts for the festival. Tiffany Ferguson, one of the GATE students and a presenter at the festival, says the experience was "pretty cool...I was pretty excited when I found out I had gotten into the festival." Since entering the festival, Ferguson has been offered an internship with GATE.
Several of the films dealt with social issues, such as war, the environment, and HIV. A piece by Jerry A. Henry, "I Promised Africa," uses no dialogue, instead giving only a few written words and the singing of African children to impart the effects of the disease to the audience. A film by Mustafa Khan, "Coming to Life: Stories of Hope, Healing, and AIDS," deals with people living with HIV, as well as the issues of addiction and prostitution.
One attendee, Judine Slaughter, found the works "very creative...I liked the diversity of the themes." She went on to say several of the films "struck me as interesting from the beginning and held my attention to the end."
The festival was held, free of charge, in PGCC's Largo Student. Iinformation about future events presented by the Liberal Arts Department at PGCC is available on the college's Web page at For more information about upcoming film festivals or about the Heritage Film Festival, go to or call 240-568-3790..

Erin Whiting is a student in English 104 (Media Writing).