“21 and Done” examines the many challenges youth face after leaving foster care. (Courtesy photo)

Real world issue takes center stage at the 24th Annual African American Film Marketplace (AAFM) and S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase.  With the help of filmmakers, the country’s forgotten youth are set in the spotlight.

Films With A Purpose (FWAP) will host the compelling new documentary on aging out of the foster care system – “21 and Done”. The film will premiere Sunday, April 29, 2018, 10:00 am at the 24th Annual African American Film Marketplace (AAFM) and S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase being held April 28 – 29, 2018 at Raleigh Studios by The Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC).  Some of the filmmakers who have had their FWAP premiered or screened at the AAFM, include: Forgiveness writer-director Satie Gossett and Child Support 2017 Directors Guild of America Jury award-winning writer-director Alcee H. Walker.

The film is being executive produced by Sandra Evers-Manly, who started FWAP as a way to support emerging filmmakers to write and produce films that help to inspire, bring about change and motivate someone to take action. Selected to premiere under this social justice film initiative, “21 and Done” explores how turning 21 years-old is a celebrated rite of passage for many young Americans, but for too many foster youth, who age out of the Foster Care system by turning 21, that milestone usually becomes a harrowing countdown and can feel more like a ticking bomb. What should be a time of celebrating full adulthood, becomes a period of anxiety, desperation and danger for many. The film presents current and former foster youth facing these unique challenges, along with the organizations outside the system that are on the front lines battling for their futures. The premiere screening will also include a brunch and Q&A with a special panel related to foster care.

The film is the impetus of its award-winning writer-producer, Jocelyn Scott, a former TV journalist, who had covered a news story several years ago on foster youth. “Our society expects foster kids to be fully self-reliant as soon as they turn 21,” said Scott. “The reality is most of them find themselves without the necessary skills and resources to live independently.” Through the film, she wanted to revisit the issue to see if the foster care system had improved. What she discovered is that while there had been improvements, there was still a long way to go. She enlisted the help of acclaimed writer-director, Kiara C. Jones to shoot and co-write the film with her.  Both Scott and Jones have prior credits that clearly forecast that “21 and Done” would be part of their film repertoire. In addition to having worked as a national news producer for NBC Nightly News, Dateline NBC and as a senior producer at E! Television, Scott also won a Governor’s Emmy for Exemplary Programming for producing the documentary, Healing The Hate. While Jones is a Sony Pictures TV Diverse Directors Program alumna, as well as an Independent Spirit Award nominee for producing Director Anja Marquardt’s feature, She’s Lost Control. Jones also won a a DGA Grand Jury Award winner for her debut feature, Christmas Wedding Baby (licensed by VIACOM and Netflix). She collaborated with Oscar-winning writer Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious) and director Zoe Cassavetes (Broken English) for the Bombay Sapphire Imagination series that premiered at TriBeCa.

Films With A Purpose (FWAP) supports the production, completion and distribution of diverse films with stories that impact the hearts and minds of the viewer. FWAP aims to Educate, Inspire and Empower future filmmakers, writers and directors; and to raise the anticipation of audiences for meaningful storytelling and excellence in filmmaking for generations to come.

As one of the first film festivals to screen diverse short films more than two decades ago, the S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase continues to provide an opportunity for the artistry of emerging African American Filmmakers by hosting this annual festival.  Over 86 Films are screened in blocks with a moderated Q & A with directors, cast and crew at the end of each block and provides the audience insight and a chance to engage in the dialogue.

Additional highlights include: the opening gala held at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center Friday April 27, the AAFM at Raleigh Studios on Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 29, 2018. Films are screened on both days from 10:00 am until 10:00 pm.  The BHERC Youth Diversity Short Film Festival, featuring young aspiring filmmakers of tomorrow from local arts organizations and high schools; Industry Panels and Salons on both days from 1:00 pm until 6:00 pm Closing of the Festivities on Sunday night includes the classic Soul Food & Film Reception at 10:00 pm.  The costs include: Opening Night Festivities $55 (at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4708 W Washington Blvd, LA, CA 90016); a pass for a block of films is only $15 for students with ID and $20 for adults; an All Day Pass is $50; the “21 and Done” Premiere is $25 and $15 for students; Panels are $20; Anatomy of a Script Panel (FREE); Closing Night Reception is $25 (Soul Food & Film); and the Weekend Pass (includes Opening Night, All Day Pass for films, Panels, Closing Night Reception, T-Shirt and BHERC Commemorative Bag) is $150.

To purchase tickets and for the complete schedule, please visit www.BHERC.org or call (310) 284-3170.  To attend the Film Festival consider riding LA Metro – Go Metro: Take the Metro Local Line 10/48 to Melrose Ave. & Van Ness. Raleigh Studios is right across the bus stop on Melrose Avenue. Plan your trip on metro.net or call 323.GO. METRO (323.466.3876).