TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa's Circle Cinema Film Festival opened Thursday with a screening of two documentary-style films by a young, female director from Jenks.
The films by Crystal Kayiza’s, “All that Remains” and “Edgecombe," are both set in rural, black America.
Kayiza’s family is originally from Uganda. She grew up in Jenks and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. She studied Documentary Studies and Production at Ithaca College and graduated in 2015.
For two years, Kayiza worked at the ACLU, where she gained experience in criminal justice. Her work has already made a mark in the film industry. Her film "Edgecombe" won a Heartland Emmy Award and was an official selection at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
Kayiza completed her film “All that Remains” 2010. It was shot in the town of Boley, Oklahoma. At the festival, Kayiza shared how she arrived on location with her mother and began connecting with the locals. The filmmaker said her goal was to capture the raw and optimistic essence of the town.
Kayiza's film “Edgecombe” was completed in 2018. The filmmaker and the cinematographer shot the documentary in North Carolina. An audience member at Thursday's screening described the film as, "transcendently moving."
Kayiza's high school film teacher hosted the discussion and spoke about her growth as a filmmaker.
The first two characters in "Edgecombe," Shaka Jackson and Doris Stith were interviewed off camera. During their voice-overs, the audience were moved by visuals and described them as "stunning," and also said that they "clearly reflected the essence of the oppressive environment and the emotional, truth within each of these characters, brilliantly."
Another audience member also described the completed piece, "as an intricately spun masterpiece that eloquently reveals the inner-humanity of these lives from Edgecombe Co."
Kayiza is a director who understands the power of allowing the journey of the story to find its own voice. It is evident that the men and women that Kayiza interviews in her films, trust her. Kayiza clearly has a dynamic, future in the industry.
Circle Cinema has proven to be extraordinary, in accomplishing their mission to honor and celebrate Oklahomans who have made cinematic history, as well movies that have been produced in the state.
Their film festival opening, showcasing Kayiza’s two films reaffirms that Circle Cinema continues to recognize Oklahoma filmmakers with distinct vision and voices that are worthy to be heard.
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