Hillman Grad Productions, by Lena Waithe, celebrated Tribeca Film Festival this past week with the premiere of Rising Voices.
Rising Voices, created by Lena Waithe and Indeed, the world’s number one job site, was created in an effort to showcase and invest in stories by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) filmmakers and storytellers.
Ten screenplays were chosen out of 850 to be funded by Hillman Grad Productions and Indeed to premiere at Pier 76 for Tribeca Film Festival this past week.
Some of the filmmakers included Dre Ryan, Stacy Pascal Gaspard, and Boma Iluma.
CEO of Indeed, Chris Hyams, and Hillman Grad Productions President of Film and TV, Rishi Rajani, were also in attendance.
The stories by these filmmakers not only fit the Rising Voices and Indeed initiative, to show how jobs can change people lives, but they were absolutely breathtaking, inspiring, and at times, heartbreaking.
Boma Iluma’s film, Comfort, focused on the Nigerian immigrant experience. “I feel like in this country when we talk about immigration, we don’t really get to talk about the things Black people go through,” says Iluma. “Through this program, I found the opportunity to be able to make a film about the Nigerian experience in a very intimate non-politicized way.”
Filmmaker Stacy Pascal Gaspard was thrilled to be able to tell her story as well and present it at Tribeca Film Festival. Soñadora tells the story of a young Caribbean immigrant mother who works at a fabric factory and is struggling to make ends meet but relieves her stress through dance. “For me, I’m Caribbean and as a filmmaker I feel it’s important to showcase my Afro-Latin and Caribbean Culture.”
For Gaspard, this film was personal in a multitude of ways. Not only was this storry inspired by her own grandmother, she was also able to cast her own mother. “My mom did the voice of it.” says Gaspard. “I was really adamant about trying to cast very authentic Caribbean actors and raw talent.”