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  • Zachary Spetzler

Culture Spotlight Featuring Andy Ridgeway

Oregon-based director Andy Ridgway was born in the midwest, but spent 26 formative years living in California where he studied Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts at San Francisco State University. A hip-hop lifer since hearing Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" in 1983, he has immersed himself in the culture ever since by producing records, hosting a radio show, DJing at clubs, designing album covers, shooting music videos, directing documentaries, and of course, enjoying the music! Wicked Wednesday was his feature-length debut.

Tell us about your experience at Hip Hop Film Festival? The experience at HHFF was very positive. It's always great to visit NYC, and having the HHFF there in the birthplace just makes it even sweeter. The staff was positive and upbeat, the programming was diverse and often unexpected, and the other filmmakers I met were all smiles. Definitely a memorable trip.

Why are stories from the culture important? There are a lot of film festivals out there, good and bad. Most simply highlight films and the world of filmmaking, which is fine of course. But HHFF goes so much deeper than that because, as you say, these are stories from a specific but broad & rich culture. A culture many of us have lived and breathed every day of our lives, and can identify with immediately when we see or hear it. There are now multiple generations that have lived this way, and can strongly relate to the stories being told on the HHFF screens. It's a gratifying feeling when you can hear or tell a story in a specific way or specific language and it's understood just the way it was intended. Stories that many wouldn't understand, but the ones who matter can understand clearly.

What projects are you working on now? Since being selected for HHFF (Wicked Wednesday, The Documentary), I've had a few false starts, but no new large project has taken hold. I'm still waiting for the right one to come along, I guess. And I know it will.

Why do you think the Harlem film house and Hip Hop Film Festival is important? First of all, we could talk about art and what it means to be human for pages and pages! But to narrow it down to the Harlem Film House, it's the kind of place that can be like a fertile garden for the soul of a community, providing the space and the nourishment for the creative juices to just flow. And the truth is, soul like that doesn't run deeper than in city neighborhoods like Harlem. Once there's a place where talented and curious artists know their work can flourish and their voices will be heard, it opens up doors and minds. It gives young people confidence and belief that they always need. Give talent a platform, and you're doing the world a service. With the HHFF, it gives the talent a little more direction, a little more energy, a little more volume, and a lot more reach.

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