Written by: Erin Pollack & Jake Chapman
The origin of Black History Month (also known as African-American history month) dates back to 1926, when Carter G. Woodson had to fight for a week to encourage coordinated teachings of Black history in public schools. In the 1960’s, this period evolved from a week to a month. Now Black History Month is celebrated each year with a theme. The 2022 theme is centered on Black Health and Wellness. February 2022 commemorates the tremendous trauma imposed on black communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, which deeply affected communities of color.
February is a time to recognize and celebrate all achievements and sacrifices made by African-Americans. These contributions touch every aspect of America’s diverse cultural heritage; specifically in arts and entertainment, and even more so in the film industry. Films are valuable in their ability to shape people’s outlook on the world around them, shifting perspectives, and educating audiences. A masterful film can create awareness on many aspects of life, something that GIFF’s 2021 Best Social Impact Film Winner, Loira Limbal, has done with expertise for communities of color.
Limbal is an Afro-Latina filmmaker and DJ. She received a B.A. in History from Brown University, and later graduated from the Third World Newsreel’s Film and Video ProductionTraining Program, which helped launch her artistic career. She has worked for various community-based organizations in New York City, and founded The Reel X Project in 2006, a social justice and creative filmmaking space for young women of color in the Bronx. She is currently the Senior Vice President for Programs at Firelight Media, and a Director/Producer at Third Shift Media, Inc. On top of working in these leadership roles, Limbal’s impactful, creative, and important storytelling can be seen in several of her cinematic credits:
Estilo Hip Hop (2009).
Limbal directed and co-produced this feature length documentary which follows the lives of three hip hop artists: Eli Efi of Brazil, Guerrillero Okulto of Chile and Magia of Cuba.
Gripping a firm belief that they can change the world by voicing political activism within their music, they attempt to inspire youth of their respective countries. Estilo Hip Hop is available for free on Tubi, and for purchase on Amazon.
Here I’ll Stay (2017)
Limbal also produced the short documentary Here I’ll Stay with her current production company, Firelight Media. This film follows 13-year-old Yizel is a member of Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, an immigrant rights organization that fought against 12 discriminatory bills in Mississippi – and won.
Picket Line (2017)
Limbal was a producer on this short film centered around a 105 day workers strike against a momentive chemical plant in Waterford, NY.
In the Making (2020-)
Limbal works as an executive producer in this ongoing anthology documentary series following the lives and journeys of emerging BIPOC cultural artists who bring insight and originality to their artistic craft. Recently, this series was nominated for a 2021 NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Short-Form Series – Reality/Nonfiction.
Through the Night (2020)
Limbal’s ability to entertain, educate and inspire viewers energetically extends to an important film, Through the Night. Limbal directed and produced this award-winning film which was featured at Tribeca Film Festival. This documentary won GIFF’s Best Social Impact Award and the Social Impact Award in Documentary Filmmaking at Sarasota Film Festival. These awards were won deservingly, as this film portrays the realism that is the personal cost of America’s rising wealth inequality, and the close bonds created within the communities affected. This film falls perfectly in line with this month’s theme of Black Health and Wellness. It is available to watch with Prime Video, and for $2.99 on YouTube.
In honor of Black History Month, and on behalf of everyone at Greenwich International Film Festival, we express our sincere gratitude to Loira Limbal; for her impactful filmmaking, community contributions towards social change, and highlighting the deep need for equity in America through the power of her films, education, and activist work.
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