The team behind “Weep Not” is excited for their Drama Short film screening at the Oscar-Qualifying Pan African Film Festival in the Crenshaw Baldwin Hills Mall.
Two-time NAACP theater nominee and child-abuse survivor, Cheray O’Neal, has something to say and PAFF is serving as the film’s vessel.
“Weep Not” is a short film that follows Journey, a woman confronting abuse from her childhood, and who as an adult, chooses an unconventional path to redemption.
O’Neal reflected on her adolescent years when co- writing the script. “As a survivor of childhood molestation, I wanted to give voice to survivors, to let them know they are not alone and to encourage open, honest dialogue around the taboo that exists in the Black community around this issue, she said.”
According to Crimes against Children Research Center, 40% of children who are sexually abused are abused by older, or more powerful children.
“We wanted to take the band-aid off and give permission for survivors to share. In sharing your truth, that’s where the healing begins.”
O’Neal says children of color are affected by the stigma surrounding the very common reality of molestation in the community. “I know the harm in keeping a secret and the beauty in sharing it. I know the damage and confusion ‘not telling’ has on a child’s self-esteem.”
The cast stars legendary actress, Beverly Todd (“Lean on me” and “9-1-1″), and other talented actors in Rico E. Anderson, Missy Yager, Alex Wells, Lou Noyce, Ann Russo and O’Neal.
“I was so moved by the story. It’s a timely impactful film and I’m honored to be a part of it,” said Todd, who plays the role of the grandmother.
The producers wanted to address the importance of grandparents in the Black family dynamic. O’Neal says “in the film, the role of the Grandmother is the only solid wise foundation for the main character to lean on, and it is through their relationship the main character gathers the courage to address this deep-seated traumatic incident.”
O’Neal is proud of the film she co-wrote with director Lenore Thomas Douglas.
“I am living proof that there is a bright side to trauma if you choose to speak up. Pain and joy literally start and stops with you,” she said. She reflects on a pivotal scene in the film. “When a survivor of a childhood trauma faces her abuser years later, whose truth really counts?”
Audiences can catch “Weep Not” on Feb. 15, at 7:55 p.m. and Feb. 22, at 1:30 p.m. as part of the Pan African American Film Festival at the Cinemark Theater at the Crenshaw Baldwin Hills Mall. For more information, visit www.paff.org