Sarasota’s second annual Visions of the Black Experience film festival kicked off on Thursday, Nov. 12 and was extended through Sunday, Nov. 29. The series “celebrates, rates and illuminates the historical, social and cultural aspects of Black life” through film over 30 documentaries, shorts, and narrative films from Black artists both local and international, including alumnus Miles Iton (‘14). This year’s themes include Black youth, health, police brutality and Afrofuturism. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also fully virtual: registration for the online content is required, but free, thanks to funding from various local foundations, including New College of Florida.
Miles Iton was co-president of the New College Student Alliance before graduating in 2018. His tenure was marked with strange, aggressive bureaucratic controversy from part of the student body, which culminated in an impeachment attempt. Iton’s experience at New College inspired his 2018 documentary “Sincerely, The Black Kids,” which exposes and explores the unique challenges faced by Black student leaders in academia across the country, from Clemson to Cornell. He discussed this film with the Catalyst in 2018.
Iton is also a hip hop artist who performs under the name Irie Givens. His new music video for “Between God and the Fourth Wall” is also featured in the Visions of the Black Experience festival, and he joined Professor Queen Zabriskie for a live Q&A about his work.
“The Visions Festival going virtual was a nice reminder of how integral black cultural programming has become to New’s offerings since seeing the first Black History Month series here,” Iton said. “I’m happy to be a part of it, especially getting the chance to screen my music video ‘Between God & the 4th Wall’ to students who might have seen baby me perform long ago. Shout out to Prof. Zabriskie and the Boxser Diversity Foundation for letting me be that OG still plugging his mixtape on campus.” You can stream Iton’s latest album, also featuring recent New College graduate Myles Optimystic, here. Whatever its limitations, 2020’s online format enables viewers to access the festival’s content, including workshops and discussions, even after their air date. All content is still available here.