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Ya’ke Smith Day and the 2013 Western New York Black Film Festival

Assistant Professor, Ya’Ke Smith, had his film “WOLF” featured in the 2013 Western New York Black Film Festival. But the accolades didn’t stop there; February 23rd was officially declared Ya’Ke Smith day In Buffalo New York.

An Excerpt from the Buffalo news on the Festival:

The Western New York Black Film Festival began in April 2002 as the Delta Film Series, a partnership between the Buffalo chapter of Delta Sigma Theta and then-Erie County Legislator Demone Smith. From the start, their movies were thought provoking and challenging.

The Western New York Black Film Festival is screening only one movie this year. But it is intense. The sisters of Delta Sigma Theta hope the movie will promote healing and dialogue.

“Wolf” merges with Delta Sigma Theta’s national mental health initiative, “My Cry in the Dark.” The goal of this program is to raise awareness about societal ills stemming from mental illness, domestic violence, child abuse, personality disorders, anger management issues and substance abuse.

Jennifer Parker, spokeswoman for the festival, said that the movie is a call to action. It promotes awareness of the abuse problem, and also mental health issues. “The African-American community, we don’t deal with mental illness well,” she says. “We don’t get help.”

Parker says the choice of the movie was not easy for Jayme Smith and the rest of the festival’s organizers. She encouraged them to prescreen the film for a focus group, including area clergy. The clergy approved it, she said.

No one argues with how relevant the topic is.

“Look what’s going on with the gun conversation. Mental illness is a big part of it,” Parker says. Sexual predators, too, have infiltrated many institutions. “Look how it’s in the news. You’ve got Penn State, the Catholic Church, the military.”

Organizers stress that the film festival is open to everyone.

“Our audience has been diverse,” Parker says proudly. “I think that’s good. It gives a great opportunity for the community to have a conversation about these topics.”