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The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival focuses on underrepresentation of women in industry

All of the films screened must have a connection to Brooklyn.

Ariyan Johnson in Leslie Harris'

Ariyan Johnson in Leslie Harris' "Just Another Girl on the I.R.T." Photo Credit: Miramax Films

It’s been 25 years since filmmaker Leslie Harris broke barriers with her acclaimed film “Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.”

The movie nabbed a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, and Harris was one of a handful of African-American female directors to get recognition in the 1990s.

She’s hoping the film, which will be featured at The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, will inspire more young woman of color to explore a career behind the camera.

“It’s important we know our history and it’s not just films made by men,” said Harris, who lives in Fort Greene. “Maybe if these young girls see I made this film despite the obstacles I faced, they can do it too.”

The nine-day festival, which kicked off on Friday, is the only film festival completely dedicated to Brooklyn, according to organizers.

All of the films screened must have a connection to Brooklyn.

“People from Brooklyn live all over the world and people from all over the world live in Brooklyn,” said Joseph Shahadi, executive director of the festival.

Brooklyn-based filmmaker Victoria Negri is the guest festival director — a position that changes every year.

“That’s usually a staff position,” said Shahadi. “But we don’t want the festival to only represent one point of view.”

This year’s festival is focused on the underrepresentation of women in the film industry. Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp Legal Defense Fund, will give the keynote speech on Wednesday at St. Francis College Founders Hall.

“We’ve been committed to gender inequity for years,” Shahadi said.

A screening of “Just Another Girl on the I.R.T” is slated to take place after the speech. The festival worked with the Brooklyn Community Foundation to fill the audience with 300 girls and young women of color, including aspiring filmmakers. Harris will answer questions after the screening.

Shahadi said the festival hosts screenings in neighborhoods all over the borough and partners with educational institutions and nonprofits to attract a broad, diverse audience.

“There are enthusiastic audiences for independent film all over the Brooklyn, not just in north Brooklyn and not just in gentrified neighborhoods,” he said.

For the full schedule and ticket information, visit aobff.eventive.org

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