B. Monét has the pedigree of a skilled, first class writer / director and the talent and ability to see things with both grace and accuracy. In addition to a B.A. Monét is a winner of the Queen Collective, a partnership with Queen Latifah, Tribeca and P & G to showcase filmmakers who have completed Spelman College in English and an MFA from New York University in Film and Television with a focus on writing and directing a passion for portraying underrepresented stories in their projects.
Ballet After Dark is a 13-minute documentary that follows Tyde-Courtney Edwards, a young woman who found the strength to survive a brutal attack. Edwards has since founded an organization that uses the power of dance as a form of healing therapy to help other survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
BET.com spoke to B. Monét, whose film was on Hulu and is now on BET, about the discovery of this remarkable power of dance as a path to recovery, her passion for filmmaking and why it is important to use empathy as a tool for to use her storytelling.
BET.com: How did you get to know Tyde-Courtney Edwards, the subject of Ballet After Dark?
B. Monét: My friend actually did an exhibition about Ballet After Dark in summer 2018 and after reading it I was simply amazed because I come from Maryland and love every opportunity to shoot in the DMV area. especially about documenting women's stories. I asked her to put me in touch with Tyde. We spent almost three hours together when we first met, and luckily I met her in time. She was in a place on her personal trip where she wanted to give up Ballet After Dark. It was this interesting divine thing that happened when I came in and we worked together and did this thing together.
BET: What was wrong with her that made her give up this project?
B. Monét: Most entrepreneurs have dealt with this if they do not have a fixed income. It is not always consistent and can reach you. Even the strongest people can only have a moment when they feel a little stressed by the inconsistency of the workflow. I think it was driving her crazy. She said she wanted to do this great thing, but needed more help, more support, and it's still a burden because it's just her.
BET.com: Do you think making this film helped her in any way?
B. Monét: I would say Ballet After Dark helped to make Tyde known not only at Tribeca, but also at other festivals. Because of the film, she is also an ambassador for Athleta and she does many workshops in Germany and soon also internationally. It's so great that she can still do this job and people know more about her.
BET.com: What did you learn from your conversation with director Dee Reese and Queen Latifah at last year's Tribeca Film Festival?
B. Monét: It was such a hurricane. We were on People TV and on the nightly news. It was a surreal experience that still shocked me. With most programs and grants, they never give filmmakers that much attention and publicity, and it just showed us how your life can change in a matter of seconds. It was a nice experience that will always have a special place in my life. Then it's right next to me to be on stage with my really good friend Haley [Anderson] and Queen Latifah, and I've loved Dee Reese since Pariah. It's still like it really happened? I am grateful that the Queen Collective program lets new voices shine through. Many of the directors we usually know are men. I think it's great that this program is going the way, talking and helping new voices from people of color and women. It ticks all the boxes, but also does the work that other programs should model.
BET.com: What makes you a filmmaker?
B. Monét: The work I leave behind shows people with color and women as winners and not as victims. I am very careful not to make dream porn with our pictures. For me as a picture maker, it is really important to show the inner world of people with color and for people who are watching their stories to feel a little bit of empathy that may not have had it before. It is important to me to convey empathy on the screen.
I also use a lot of vignettes in my work; These artistic moments that may embellish the trauma. The only reason I do this is because I don't want to traumatize someone who has already dealt with it enough. I don't think this is helpful in restoring trauma.
BET.com: What new projects are you working on that we can look forward to next?
B. Monét: Yes, I'm developing Q.U.E.E.N., which I hope will be my first feature film. I am also developing many other projects that focus on women with color and hopefully penetrate the story and TV room. I am very happy to develop longer projects. I have made over 10 short films, so it is important for me to challenge myself by getting into longer formats.
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