Iyabo Kwayana’s “By Water” Winner at the 2020 BlackStar Film Festival

By Water a film directed by Guyana-born filmmaker Iyabo Kwayana (Dartmouth College) was announced as the winner of the second annual BlackStar Pitch held during the 2020 BlackStar Film Festival, which took place from August 20 through August 26, 2020. As the winner of the competition, which saw filmmakers of color pitch their work-in-progress documentary short projects to industry professionals in the virtual event, Kwayana takes home a $25,000 production deal from WORLD Channel.

According to the press release (excerpts below), “Inspired by a voicemail left by her brother, By Water is an exploration of family, memory, reconciliation and healing. Combining animation and documentary-style footage while weaving in family images following their roots from Guyana to South Carolina, the film examines an unlikely hero who ‘hears spirits’ and one family’s quest to share his burden.” [Note: Animation credit, Charlotte Bing Hong.]

WORLD Channel, the award-winning multimedia platform and content producer, has partnered with BlackStar Film Festival, for the second annual BlackStar Pitch. Taking place during the 2020 BlackStar Film Festival, the BlackStar Pitch — which focused on documentary short projects — helped kick off this year’s festivities on August 19 as eight filmmakers of color had the opportunity to pitch their work-in-progress documentary projects to an online virtual panel of industry experts. By Water, from filmmaker Iyabo Kwayana, was announced as the winner of the BlackStar Pitch and a $25,000 co-production deal from WORLD Channel during an awards ceremony on August 26, the closing day of the annual festival celebrating the film and storytelling tradition of Black, Brown and Indigenous people across the world.

Inspired by a voicemail left by her brother, By Water is an exploration of family, memory, reconciliation and healing. Combining animation and documentary-style footage while weaving in family images following their roots from Guyana to South Carolina, the film examines an unlikely hero who “hears spirits” and one family’s quest to share his burden.

The co-production deal with WORLD Channel will provide Kwayana with support to complete the short-documentary project as well as a national platform for showcasing the film once wrapped.

“At WORLD Channel, we look to offer new perspectives, bringing the work of independent and emerging filmmakers to national audiences,” said Chris Hastings, executive producer and editorial manager for WORLD Channel at WGBH in Boston. “Teaming with BlackStar Pitch allows us to not only continue to identify new voices in the film community but to help amplify the work of these storytellers.” [. . .]

For more information on the 2020 BlackStar Film Festival and BlackStar Pitch, visit www.blackstarfest.org/. To learn more about WORLD Channel and its programming and initiatives, follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at @worldchannel, subscribe to their  YouTube channel or visit www.worldchannel.org.

About BlackStar Film Festival: The BlackStar Film Festival is an annual celebration of the visual and storytelling traditions of the African diaspora and global communities of color — showcasing films by Black, Brown, and Indigenous people from around the world. The 2020 festival, presented online due to COVID-19, took place from August 20-26, and comprised more than 80 films, representing over 20 countries and including 24 world premieres.

[Image above: A screen shot from By Water, a work in progress by filmmaker Iyabo Kwayana. Animation credit: Charlotte Bing Hong.]

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