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it all starts behind
the camera

our film highlights voices of the black community. we strive to lift up an equally diverse cast & crew.

Of top grossing films, only

12% of directors are women.

And of those women...

1% are women of color.

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our director-producer team is
all female
and/or P.O.C.

2/3 of our crew identifies as

black, latinX,
or asian

more than 84%
of our crew heads are women and/or LGBTQIA.

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On October 15, 2017, I turned 20 years old. On October 16, 2017, my grandmother passed away. By the end of her life, she had become the glue holding my dysfunctional family together. And it was suddenly all over. But I didn't really do anything. I went to the funeral, cried a little, and I moved on. After all, I was still in school and had things to do and other responsibilities.

 

Fast forward to a year later. October 15, 2018. I was excited to be turning 21, but I knew that the next day would be the first anniversary of my grandmother's death, something that I hadn't talked about with anyone. Everyone has to deal with death at some point in their life. What made me special? I made a lot of mistakes that semester that I still feel the consequences of today. When my mom realized how bad everything was, she was upset, terrified, but also confused as to why I didn't reach out for help. Why did I try to handle everything by myself?

 

I had gotten into such a dark place during that time in my life that sometimes I wondered... how different would things have been if I was just a bit more broken? What if I was damaged enough that I tried to end my own life? This is when Jules' story, a story like so many other women out there, began to show itself to me. I wanted to make a story not centered around the question if a young woman would end up with a boy. It was the question: was she going to be able to survive, despite everything in her life being so dark? It's the journey of going through something traumatic but trying to figure out a way to come out on the other side stronger. I saw that as something that, for black women in particular, we often have to overcome in our lives, but never talk about.

 

I feel that Smile is the opportunity to explore this more through Jules and the many relationships in her life, particularly the mother-daughter relationship which can be so rich, complicated, and full of generational trauma. I hope that Smile can be a way to discuss the answers to these questions and explore stories like Jules', like mine, and so many more.

- Kelsey Hodge, Writer & Director 

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