Bushwick Film Festival Founder, Kweighbaye Kotee Returns to Liberia to Co-Produce a Peace Film Festival Featuring Women’s Stories.
Bushwick Film Festival founder Kweighbaye Kotee, is partnering with the Accountability Lab to co-produce the Reel Peace Film Festival June 5-6, 2019 in Monrovia, Liberia. The project is made possible by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.
The two-day festival will feature short films created by 45 local Liberian women who participated in the Reel Peace Project, a year long filmmaking program aimed at empowering women with the tools they need to visually share the challenges their communities face. Selected films will later be screened in October at this year's 12th Annual Bushwick Film Festival.
In addition to learning skills related to filmmaking and visual storytelling, the Reel Peace Project also taught women to craft policy documents to accompany the issues raised in their films. Providing participants with the opportunity to engage in their country's political processes. The women were also encouraged to take part in critical conversations related to peace and gender disparities, conversations where their voices have largely been excluded. At a time when peace and nation-building are critical, and gender-based violence and inequality remain pervasive, only 12% of the country’s current legislature are women.
Providing a creative platform that equally includes women and other underrepresented voices has always been a personal mission for Kotee and a significant component of the Bushwick Film Festival. In 2018, nearly 50% of the festival filmmakers were women and people of color. What makes this collaboration even more significant is that Kotee herself was born in Liberia. She fled to the U.S. with her family to escape violence from an emerging civil war to return three decades later to produce a peace film festival.
Kotee attended public school in Newark and received a full scholarship from the Wight Foundation to attend Blair Academy before graduating from New York University with a Media Culture and Communications degree. Kotee moved to Bushwick following graduation and launched BFF shortly after. Her pioneering work with the festival contributed to what would eventually become a thriving arts and culture scene.
In 2017, she was featured in a Delta Airlines and POPSUGAR campaign that highlighted the stories of incredible women committed to bringing about positive changes in their communities. In 2018, she launched the Bushwick Film Institute and partnered with B&H Photo and Canon to create a filmmaking program for young underrepresented storytellers in Bushwick and its surrounding areas. With over a decade of film industry experience and advocacy for diversity in entertainment, launching her first international project in Liberia, where she was born, is truly a dream realized.
The Reel Peace Project is supported by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund and Accountability Lab. In addition to films created by 45 women from all 15 counties in Liberia, the Reel Peace Film Festival will also include panels and conversations focused on peace, policy, and gender parity in Liberia. In addition to co-producing the event, Kweighbaye and her team will also create a video documentary of the experience and its impact.
About United Nations Peacebuilding Fund:
The Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) is headed by the United Nations Secretary-General and was launched in 2006 to support activities, actions, programmes, and organisations that seek to build a lasting peace in countries emerging from conflict.
About Accountability Lab:
The Accountability Lab supports change-makers to develop and implement positive ideas for integrity in their communities, unleashing positive social and economic change. Currently based in Nepal, Pakistan, Liberia, Nigeria, Mali and South Africa, the Lab envisions a world in which people with power are accountable. It is a world in which resources are used wisely, decisions benefit everyone fairly, and people lead secure lives. We are catalyzing a new generation of active citizens and responsible leaders around the world by supporting change-makers to develop and implement positive ideas for integrity in their communities. By enabling people to generate the knowledge, skills and networks needed for accountability, we unleash positive social and economic change.
About The Bushwick Film Festival:
Founded in 2007, The Bushwick Film Festival (BFF) is a leading independent film and media company in Brooklyn. The festival is hailed as one of Brooklyn’s most influential cinematic events for its contribution to the borough’s artistic, cultural, and economic growth. The festival attracts film and entertainment industry leaders at national and international levels,showcasing films created by the best and most diverse emerging independent filmmakers in Brooklyn and worldwide. BFF provides a platform for emerging filmmakers to share their stories and presents opportunities for them to make a living doing what they love. BFF also offers spaces for audiences from all backgrounds to connect and discover new independent movies and experience unique cultural events.
About Kweighbaye Kotee:
Kweighbaye Kotee is an entrepreneur, director, producer and writer. In 2007, she founded the Bushwick Film Festival (BFF). Hailed as one of Brooklyn’s most celebrated events, BFF is recognized for its contribution to the borough’s artistic and economic growth. In 2016 she founded MCCG, an M/WBE community affairs consultant group that helps organizations positively engage with communities to create empowering opportunities. Leading a team, she has developed arts and cultural programs that have raised and distributed up to $500,000 to local artists and organizations; Produced and directed branded video campaigns, and managed community affairs for various high profile projects in Brooklyn.
In 2018, she launched the Bushwick Film Institute, BFI is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to elevating community through the power of film, empowering underrepresented storytellers, increasing diversity in film and tv, and sharing unique stories with local and global audiences. She has also written and co-produced a talk show series for BRIC TV and wrote and directed a feature-length documentary which is currently in post-production. She has been featured on NBC, Fox News, NY1, Huffington Post, POPSUGAR, Delta Air Lines, Brooklyn Magazine, Indiewire, Rock You Media, Tribeca Film, to name a few and lives in Brooklyn.