The 3rd annual Chicago Southland International Film Festival (CSIFF) was recently held by Governors State University (GSU) last week. The film festival’s core values include inclusiveness, diversity, and promoting quality of life. The GSU is a leader in education, arts, and humanities. This festival allows the University to share and promote the vibrant arts and cultures reflective of the Governors State University community. Held virtually due to the pandemic, The Chicago Southland International Film Festival included both student and professional filmmakers. The hosts of the CSIFF were very nurturing, accommodating, and hands-on compared to other film festivals. This film festival had a well-produced awards ceremony, closed-captioned for the hearing impaired, and free ticket offers for people with financial hardships.
The Chicago Southland International Film Festival featured Four Seasons, a short film written by Nia Fairweather and directed by Kurt Williamson. The CSIFF was appealing to Kurt and Nia because of the location. Participating in the CSIFF was extremely important to Kurt since he was born in Chicago, and his Mom attended Governor State University in the past. Nia and Kurt are always willing to participate in festivals in the cities where they have close connections. Nia Fairweather is the writer, co-producer, and lead actress in this short film. She is an award-winning actress whose work has been featured at the Cannes Film Festival, the American Black Film Festival; her credits also include HBO, Nickelodeon, BET, Centric, and others. Kurt Williamson serves as the co-producer and director of this short film. Kurt is an award-winning director and co-founder of Holland West productions, with over 16 years of experience with television and digital content. Kurt began his career at MTV and has since recently produced with The Fuse Network, Nike, MSNBC, Bravo, and Netflix, and others.
The short film was divided into four parts/seasons where they convey the highs and lows of relationships, expectations of adulthood, and unspoken expectations that flow through various life seasons. Nia wrote a compelling account of love, friendship, and marriage through Braxton’s eyes, the leading male character. The film begins with a young black couple, Charisse and Braxton, while they were dating, and the next season shows Braxton’s discussion with his friends regarding him marrying Charisse. The third season of the short film depicts their lives after getting married and Charisse’s feelings of postpartum depression after giving birth to their baby. Nia, who also plays Charisse, the leading lady, amazingly captured a young woman’s essence as she journeys through dating to motherhood, including postpartum for the main character. The final Season shows how Charisse and Braxton, as a more experienced couple, must adapt to life’s changing seasons. It was very insightful and enlightening on their part to shine a light on being newlyweds, motherhood, and postpartum depression through the lens of black creatives.
According to NPR.org, postpartum happens to more women of color and low-income mothers than their counterparts. The most significant difference is women of color experience postpartum more and is less likely to receive the care and treatment needed. Postpartum is real, and it affects the mother and the baby. The babies suffer due to a lack of bonding and connection with the mother as she struggles with postpartum. The babies can develop behavioral issues, and it lowers their cognitive abilities as well. Charisse’s fantastic portrayal of a new stay-at-home mom who is struggling with postpartum was fascinating! It was interesting to see the range of emotions that Charisse experienced as a girlfriend, wife, and new Mom, grappling with postpartum. Braxton (played by David J Cork) shows genuine concern for his wife. She tried to explain to him her overwhelming feelings of managing motherhood and the household after recently giving birth.
Nia and Kurt’s goals are to create bodies of work that tell stories about people of color through various outlets. As creatives, it is essential for them to tell stories from their perspective and create more opportunities for themselves and like-minded artists. This dynamic duo has collaborated several times during their 15-year friendship and has other projects on the horizon. As a result of the positive response to Four Seasons, they are working on developing a TV adaptation of this short film. Check out the Four Seasons’ trailer and follow them on social media for the most updated information on Four Seasons. Kurt Williamson @hollandwestproductions, Nia Fairweather @niafairweather Four Season short film @fourseasons_thefilm.
Theresa Horton is a freelance writer living in Chicago. Follow her on her social media @passionateresources (Instagram).