CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The 8th Annual Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival kicked off Thursday, Sept. 12 with a homecoming.
The festival began with a reception and conversation with Cleveland-area native Yvette Nicole Brown at the Breen Center for Performing Arts located at St. Ignatius High School.
Brown was born in East Cleveland and is a 1989 graduate of Warrensville Heights High School. She graduated from Akron University in 1994.
The actress has appeared in “Community,” “The Odd Couple,” “The Big House,” “The Mayor” and the BET miniseries “The New Edition Story.”
Brown returned to the festival on Saturday evening to screen her brand new film, “Always a Bridesmaid.” Brown wrote the script more than 20 years ago, while an office temp.
“I wanted to write the film I didn’t see," said Brown. “I wanted two flawed people try to make it work in a wholesome way.”
The highly-sought-after Hollywood actress teamed up with former Warrensville Heights alum, Nikaya D. Brown-Jones for the latest Tri-Destined project.
The romantic comedy, directed by Trey Haley, stars Yvette Nicole Brown, Javicia Leslie and Jordan Calloway.
The film is about Corina (Javicia) who is stuck being everyone’s bridesmaid. Deciding to no longer be a lady-in-waiting, she bravely re-enters the dating scene. Time will only tell if Corina will “Always Be A Bridesmaid” or if the love of her life is around the corner.
Filmmakers from across the country got a chance to network and meet with industry executives during a filmmaker breakfast. The breakfast puts filmmakers at the table with people who can bring their content to national platforms.
It also helps filmmakers create a community and establish relationships.
“It gives them the opportunity to meet each other and connect and hopefully, work together in the future," said Tina Rodriguez, Senior Director of Programming & Acquisitions for Aspire TV.
Having a one-on-one with an industry executive is priceless.
Some of those same industry professionals gave filmmakers a chance to pitch their projects.
The session allowed new film producers and writers an opportunity to “pitch” their film or TV ideas to three top executives: Abby MacDonald (Urbanflix), Tina Rodriguez (Aspire TV), and Brett Dismuke (Urban Movie Channel).
More than a dozen filmmakers took full advantage of the opportunity. It was a nerve-racking experience for some, but worth every jittery nerve.
There were also many youth-oriented activities, including a student symposium with student-produced films and community activities.
The festival also puts a spotlight on Cleveland.
“Two of my friends had films in the festival last year and it was the best festival,” said Paula Nieman, creator of short "From Fist to Knee. "Literally, they said Cleveland treated them the best.”
"I hope filmmakers get a chance to really explore Cleveland, said GCUFF Director of Communications, Felicia C. Haney. “We did a lolly the trolley tour that gave people a look at the city.”
The festival continues through Friday, Sept. 20.