Harlem Film House
Culture Spotlight Featuring Khalid Seña
Khalid Seña was born in New York City and raised in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood. Khalid always had a passion for films, as it’s something he got from his father who introduced him to the films of Bruce Lee and many other greats like Shaft and theTerminator franchise to name a few. Khalid was also an artist from a young age. He had a knack for painting and writing poetry as well as short stories. His interest in film began to take hold when he would watch DVD special features and watch behind the scenes featurettes. “It’s an experience”, he described as an early film school giving him the knowledge of different departments and how much goes into making a single film. Through his youth, Khalid attended various artistic programs that allowed him to express himself through film including making a documentary short with DCTV and a superhero short film with Wingspan and Imagine Me. In college Khalid got a broader sense of media as he majored in communications and got a deeper understanding of Radio, TV, and Film. Once out of college he began to work as Production Assistant where he worked on everything from web commercials to network Tv to Netflix projects. Feeling burnt out and desiring more, Khalid took a chance and applied to SVA MPS directing program to further tell stories on the next level and make connections with faculty and classmates. Khalid’s film Concrete Rose is a coming-of-age drama about a recently released ex-convict looking to integrate back into a world that has moved on without him. The film is set in the Lower East side and Khalid considers it to be the first of many stories he wants to tell set in the neighborhood. “What entices me about telling stories in my neighborhood is the fact that it’s a part of New York people seldom have. We have all seen the stories of the great shiny olympus that is New York but what about the average person that’s on the ground living in an ever changing environment. What type of stories are there to be told in a neighborhood filled with diversity that’s being priced out by people who know nothing about its rich cultural history?”
Tell us about your experience at the Hip Hop Film Festival?
My experience at the Hip Hop film festival was fantastic. It was very cool to be a part of such a relevant film festival that’s for the culture and by the culture. Being able to hear from established BIPOC creators were inspiring.
Why are stories from the culture important? Stories from the Culture are important because it lets others know that we have arrived. In fact, we have always been here. There is nobody better suited to tell our stories but us. It’s up to us to carry the torch that was passed to us by those who came before.
What projects are you working on now? Right now, I’m developing and writing the script for my next short. It is based on the a real story of a man who was in the hospital fighting covid. He returns home to find that his apartment has been cleared because the landlord thought he died. Like Concrete Rose, the story will take place in the Lower East side.
Why do you think the Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival are important? Harlem Film House and Hip-Hop film festival are important because they providefantastic opportunities for BIPOC filmmakers. Out of any festival my film has been a part of, I felt the most taken care of by the Harlem Film House and the Hip Hop Film Festival because they truly care about making sure we succeed. They also give us the tools and knowledge to do so.