Olive Demetrius and Hanifah Walidah’s new project, U People, is a grassroots effort that evolved out of their music video, Make a Move, which features both LGBT and straight people of color at a sexy, on-screen house party. Make a Move remained on LOGO’s The Click List for two months, and was the first LGBT music video to be shown on a national network.
“After we sat down to view the footage,” explains Demetrius, “we saw the opportunity to bring something to the world that can’t be duplicated. What was caught on those tapes could not have been scripted. It was candid, celebratory and just beautiful. We condensed it into 76 minutes. The end result is U People the movie.”
U People was made from a webisode-style podcast forum for discussion of “otherness;” viewers are invited to respond to the introductory videos on YouTube.com and AfterEllen.com with their own stories about feeling like an outsider, whether in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender orientation or any other nuance of identity. Says Demetrius, “U People doesn’t focus on struggle, but it highlights people working together despite differences while giving a nuanced view of our similarities.”
U People has been accepted into InsideOut, the Toronto Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, which draws some 30,000 people each year. The soundtrack is a compilation of soul, rock, funk and hip hop by independent artists including Blakbushe, Toshi Reagon, Kandi Cole, Skim, Jade Ross and Honey LaRochelle – predominantly LGBT women of color.
“This will be a dynamic visual as well as musical experience,” adds Demetrius. “All of this will be seamlessly interwoven with scenes from the film as well as these collected U People stories.”
On Thursday, June 12, U People and Ubiquita NYC present The U People Experience live at Southpaw (125 5th Ave, Brooklyn, spsounds.com), featuring spoken-word artist Staceyann Chin, Celia of Les Nubiens and others. On Friday, June 13, catch the New York City premiere of U People at NewFest at the AMC Leows on 34th Street at 6pm. Follow up on Sunday, June 15 with the Garden Talkback at the South Oxford Space (138 South Oxford St, Brooklyn, 347-596-3882) where viewers can discuss their reactions to the film with the women who made it.
For more information, visit iloveupeople.com.