Written by Hadasah Ingrid: Hadash is a director, writer, & film enthusiast based in New York City. Look for more film commentary from her on Digital Afro soon.
Filmmaker Shauntay Cherry Reaches Out To Fatherless Men With New Project
The statistics are real and disturbing. Now in America, over 60% of African American children are being raised by a single mother. Death and or marriage separation is a factor, however, in too many cases the situation is simply black men opting to abandon their families. This issue is being examined by independent filmmakers such as Shauntay Syreeta Cherry, who want to bring more exposure in to the long term effects of child abandonment in the African American community.
– Director, screenwriter, and founder and CEO of Heart of David Pictures. Her new film “Silent Cries” (of a fatherless son) tackles the impact of growing up fatherless and the affect on relationships and life during and after abandonment. Currently based in Long Island, New York, Shauntay spent her childhood with her two siblings in North Carolina but came of age as a Brooklyn native.
Cherry designed her film company to take the audience on an emotional journey of not just character but self discovery as well; invoking personal growth that extends to families and communities at large. ”My target audience is people who consider themselves spiritual and who are ready to move past religion and its pretenses, to develop a relationship with God starting with the truth of where they are in their lives, today.” Hence the name Heart of David Pictures.
Shauntay is determined to establish a strong voice and brand through her work. Her most notable influences are Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino. ” You can watch a film and often times; within minutes you’re able to identify the filmmaker due to their unapologetic commitment to their own voice. That’s the kind of filmmaker I aspire to be.” But as she hones her skill, she applies the experience and wisdom acquired from actor/producer Ephraim “Fetti” Benton; an industry veteran who collaborated on her short film, “The Lady Killer.” Cherry gleaned from his ability to manage talent, execute flexibility, and manage business relationships.
When shooting her very first film, Shauntay, fresh out of school, found herself embarking on a very scary adventure. Her camera work training from Syracuse, the New York Film Academy, and Brooklyn’s public access station BCAT, armed her with the confidence & skills necessary to forge ahead in a male dominated profession.
“ A lot of my experiences with men in this industry built my confidence. I learned to trust myself creatively, and manage my projects and not be afraid to let go of uncooperative people. I learned that it’s okay if everyone isn’t in love with you on set. It strengthened my resolve.”
That strong resolve propelled her into the new projects she is working on currently. Silent Cries is a feature-length film shot on the Sony F3 system.
After her networking, befriending or dating professional men, a trust was built with these individuals to talk about their relationships with their fathers that usually reveled heartbreak & insecurities from growing up fatherless. As reflected through the lead character, Lex Anthony, an unapologetic workaholic who avoids emotionally intimate relationships at all cost is forced to deal with the pivotal event of his father’s departure at age 5. Yet it hinders his ability to love especially when encountering a past love interest. It’s a story of forgiveness, healing, and winning with the hand you were dealt.
Men should see this film to know that their pain hasn’t gone unnoticed. Women should see the film to gain an understanding of fatherless men. Both grasp the reality of the challenges it presents to building families.