DENTON, TX – The University of North Texas (UNT) has become a pivotal arena for nurturing Black storytellers, bridging academia and artistic expression through film. This initiative highlights the university’s commitment to exploring narratives across different eras and fostering an inclusive environment for storytelling.
Christopher Todd, an Assistant Professor and historian of American slavery at UNT, emphasizes the power of film as an educational tool. Todd incorporates documentary films in his courses to elaborate on early American history, capitalism’s origins in the Americas, Europe, and Africa, and the intricate stories of the past. “Film transcends traditional storytelling by portraying truths that extend beyond mere facts, making it a vital medium for a diverse array of narratives,” Todd stated.
Similarly, Professor Todd Moye, who directs the UNT Oral History Program, integrates documentaries into his U.S. history and Civil Rights Movement classes. Moye believes in film’s ability to resurrect forgotten or overlooked stories, enriching students’ understanding of history through visual storytelling.
In 2019, UNT launched the Black Film Club (BFC), aimed at students passionate about filmmaking and documentaries. The club not only offers a creative outlet for aspiring filmmakers but also promotes discussions on the history and impact of Black filmmaking. Under the leadership of Keylen Davis, a senior studying broadcast media and current BFC President, the club engages in various activities, including volunteering at the Denton Black Film Festival (DBFF).
The DBFF, celebrating its 10th anniversary, owes its inception and growth to UNT alumni Harry and Linda Eaddy. Since 2015, the festival has become a cornerstone event, showcasing Black culture and storytelling. This year, the festival expanded to include workshops, comedy shows, live music, and an art exhibition, further highlighting the dynamic nature of Black artistic expression.
Lauren Kelley’s “Meandering Hemispheres,” an afro-futuristic exhibition at UNT’s CoLab, is one such addition, reflecting a broader movement in the arts to reevaluate and repatriate historical African art objects.
During Black History Month, the BFC and its members, including Vice President Jayla Jackson, a junior majoring in media arts, aim to inspire future generations. They plan to visit local middle schools to discuss Black representation in film, reinforcing the importance of diverse voices in storytelling.
The University of North Texas, through initiatives like the Black Film Club and participation in the DBFF, continues to play a significant role in shaping the future of Black filmmaking and storytelling, ensuring that the narratives of tomorrow are as diverse and dynamic as the community they represent.