Through a Black Lens helps aspiring filmmakers realize their dreams
American Family believes in the power of dreams and that the more those dreams get out into the world, the more powerful they become.
That's why we created the Through a Black Lens program.
It’s a celebration of black filmmakers and a vehicle to get those dreams out in the world. This year, the program’s second, we asked people to tell us their dreams for the future. We received a variety of inspiring submissions, and the winning dream was turned into a film. By bringing the winning dream to the big screen, we're bringing it that much closer to becoming a reality.
I was excited and honored to represent American Family at the Eighth Annual Black Film Festival (ABFF) in New York where the film “Brakedown” premiered. It was an inspiring experience.
Getting to meet the winner of our Through a Black Lens competition, Tone Williams, left me feeling this is what our company is all about – helping people pursue their dreams. Tone was both ecstatic and amazed to be chosen. Yet, the program really is about helping him believe in his own dreams and have the passion to pursue them.
Watching the screening of Tone’s film about a young woman pursuing her dreams through adversity, and meeting movie star Morris Chestnut (Dr. Prentiss on “Nurse Jackie”), who directed Tone’s film, is an experience I will never forget. I would define Morris as successful, and yet he’s still out there pursuing his dreams. One of those was to direct a film, and American Family helped him achieve that.
As moviegoers came into the SVA Theatre in the cultural center of New York’s artistically vibrant Chelsea neighborhood, they were immersed in the whole Through a Black Lens experience – from taking pictures in front of our branded wall, to receiving branded refreshments and movie posters of the film as they entered the theater.
Our theater for the viewing of "Brakedown” was packed. Morris and his co-director Dylan Brown really understand American Family’s mission. As they introduced the film short, they described how it takes hard work to go after your dreams and how companies like us are right beside them as they do. We then watched “Brakedown.”
Afterward, Morris and Dylan answered questions from the audience. The interaction was engaging and inspirational. It led me to think about how American Family has helped me achieve my own dreams. I’m grateful to work for a company that is constantly innovating and finding engaging ways to connect with customers.
Here’s how Jeff Friday, founder and CEO of Film Life Inc., and producer of ABFF, explains why it’s important to support black filmmakers:
“The black experience is an integral part of American culture; and the universal appeal of black stories is becoming more apparent as African-Americans make substantial inroads into the motion-picture industry. As we look to the future, it is our goal to not only support black filmmakers, but also to promote their work for everyone’s enjoyment. The ABFF is committed to broadening the mainstream embrace of black culture, to have as great an impact through cinema as we have had through music, fashion and sports.”
Editor's note: Visit the American Family Insurance YouTube channel to view "Brakedown" and other Through a Black Lens videos.