Black Nativity and Fusion’s Launch

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As the theater lights of Cantor dimmed and the Christmas music played, the entire crowd, including NYU affiliates and film industry professionals, fell into a trance only to be jolted out of it soon after. The street setting in the opening sequence of the film isn’t the standard for a ‘holiday movie,’ but it is impactful. It is memorable. It is NYU Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Professor Kasi Lemmons’ Black Nativity. (To read a Lemmon’s interview on Black Nativity, click HERE). Fusion Film Festival celebrated its 2013-2014 kick-off with an advanced screening of Lemmons’ film for the NYU community and invited guests.

Following the festivities, Fusion was treated to a Q&A with some key members of the cast and crew, including Lemmons herself and Black Nativity producer Celine Rattray. Rattray, a prolific producer in the film world, was an empowering addition to Fusion’s Q&A panel. Rattray has won a Golden Globe, received an Oscar nomination, and has produced over thirty independent films of various levels of acclaim with Sundance Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, and Berlin International Film Festival affiliation. Before producing Lemmons’ film, Rattray functioned as the Director of Marketing and Business Development for HBO and was chosen by Crain’s New York as a member of the selective “Forty Under 40” list. We are honored to report that Celine Rattray has joined Fusion’s Honorary Board.

In addition to Rattray and Lemmons,  Fusion was lucky enough to celebrate this event with prominent production designer Kristi Zea, and up and one of the film’s stars, Grace Gibson. Kristi Zea is a true force in the film realm. She has functioned as a production designer, costume designer, and producer of major feature films. Noteably, Zea has designed Manchurian Candidate, Goodfellas, and Terms of Endearment just to name a few. In her experience, Zea has collaborated with some of the film world greats,  such as Martin Scorsese, Sam Mendes, and James L. Brooks. Zea’s work has been nominated for an OSCAR and a BAFTA. Gibson, debuting as “Maria” in Black Nativity, joined the Fusion’s panel at the launch event, speaking about her break-out role in Lemmons’ film, and the powerful roots that tie her to the project.

To have such talented and acclaimed women as Lemmons, Rattray, Zea, and Gibson to celebrate the launch of FUSION 2014 and the call for submissions, was an exhilarating experience. Being in the presence of these influential women in the film industry was a potent and empowering reminder of Fusion’s foundation.

This event also marks the launch of Fusion’s festival season and the opening of submissions. Click HERE to learn more and submit your fantastic student films.

By Elizabeth Groth
Photographer: Bella Tan