UT Arlington professor, filmmaker to debut new film at 2012 SXSW
ARLINGTON – Among the many films premiering at the 2012 South by Southwest (SXSW) Conferences and Festivals in Austin, will be one written and directed by University of Texas at Arlington assistant professor and filmmaker Ya’Ke Smith.
Smith’s first feature film, “Wolf,” tells the story of a family shaken to the core when they discover their son has been molested. As they struggle to deal with the betrayal, their son heads towards a total mental collapse because of his love for his abuser, while his abuser attempts to exercise his own past demons.
Smith, whose previous short film “Katrina’s Son” played at more than 80 film festivals and was eligible for the 2012 Oscar, calls his latest offering the most difficult thing he’s ever done.
“This is such a complex theme, but a very timely subject,” Smith said. “I wanted to make sure that I approached it with grace, not judgment.”
Smith said his hope for the film is that it will shed light on the vicious cycle of sexual abuse, so that victims can understand that they’re not alone and step out of the shadows of silence that have kept them bound.
Robert Hower, chairman of the UT Arlington Department of Art and Art History, where Smith teaches film screenwriting and directing courses, called Smith’s contributions to the University’s film program significant.
“He continues to challenge the students to improve and use the power of the film to express themselves and also to better understand their world,” Hower said. “His new feature ‘Wolf’ is a powerful piece that will create conversation. The cinematography, storytelling and message will stay with you long after you leave the theater.”
Smith is quick to praise UT Arlington faculty and staff for their support of his filmmaking.
“The Art Department was very instrumental in the completion of ‘Wolf.’ My colleagues created an environment where I could work on the project and the University helped out tremendously with small monetary support,” he said.
Smith says his next step includes the continuation of his faculty career, adding that he has never stopped teaching. He is also in the writing process for his next film, “Heaven.” When asked what it was about, Smith responded: “Can’t say much except that it is part dance film and part gritty drama.”
SXSW gets underway Friday, March 9 with more than 5,000 events and exhibits at the Austin Convention Center, 500 East Cesar Chavez Street. The film screenings will be held at the center and at nearby venues, including the Paramount Theatre on Congress and 7th; The State at Congress and 8th; and The Ritz 1 & 2 on Sixth Street.
The interactive portion of the nine-day festival winds down March 13; the film festival ends March 17; the music events end March 18. Visit www.sxsw.com for conference registration details.
Smith’s work is representative of the creative and artistic research underway at The University of Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of nearly 33,500 students in the heart of North Texas and the second-largest member of The University of Texas System. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.
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