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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Armstead

Culture Spotlight featuring Ashley Connell

Ashley Connell is a young filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon. She loves to experience live music through a camera; always filming and creating content for the local hip hop and jazz artists in the Portland metro area.

Tell us about your experience at the Hip Hop Film Festival.

I was so honored to be a part of this festival. An in person attendance to the festival would have been so magical, but I think the festival handled the online platform well. I loved how the festival lasted so long... the excitement never stopped!

Why are stories from the culture important?

Stories rooted in hip hop culture will always be relevant, but right now in this civil rights movement it is especially important for people to be educated about the culture. BIPOC deserve the recognition, gratitude, and appreciation that has been lacking from our white washed society. Too often, white artists receive all the praise for music or art inspired by black culture, creating a lack of societal harmony. Showcasing stories from the culture through a festival as such will highlight black musicians in a way where it would be nearly impossible to overshadow the roots of the culture.

What projects are you working on now?

Currently, I am working on a couple photography projects! My friends just started their own record label; it is the only BIPOC-owned label in the city of Portland. I did some photos for one of the bands (Greaterkind) being highlighted this month, so now I am working on some fun collage edits for their PR stuff. Also, I am planning a photoshoot showcasing 4 strong, talented women in the Portland hip hop/jazz scene. The planning includes finding wardrobe, location, gear, and honing in the aesthetic.

Why do you think the Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival are important?

I think It is important to have resources like these for artists rooted in the culture so that everyone has a fair shot at having their art showcased! The fiscal sponsorship program from the Harlem Film House serves a valuable purpose to society-- a purpose which motivates people to make their dreams of filmmaking a reality. In conjunction, the Hip Hop Fest shares an equal purpose: sharing that reality with the rest of the world.

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