Q + A with Filmmaker Naima Overton

(Above photo of Naima Overton, by Malik Martin)

We partnered with Indie Memphis to bring you a queer guide to the 2023 festival. We also got to talk briefly with filmmaker Naima Overton, whose short film “Intersectionality” is being featured in the Hometowner Documentary Shorts competition this year. Overton was the 2022 Indie Memphis LGBTQIA+ grant recipient and her powerful film explores the lives of nine Memphians who are navigating the Black, queer experience in the South.

Focus: What was your vision for “Intersectionality”? What did you want to share with the world?
Naima: My initial vision with Intersectionality was to turn the camera on a few Black, queer friends of mine. I was frustrated with the lack of information on Black, queer figures that had come before us. This project was the beginning of an effort to document our full experience as Memphians and not be written out of history. 

As an artist what brought you to film specifically as a medium? Was there something that you felt you could uniquely accomplish with it? 
As a painter I’m so critical of my artwork. I gravitated towards film, specifically documentary filmmaking, because I am able to really relinquish control and simply focus on capturing the essence of someone else’s story. There’s no need or desire to “get it right” or perfect. The candor with the subject matter is all that’s necessary.

Who or what inspires you? Where do you get inspiration from?
I’m inspired by Black stories. We are shaped and molded by so many familial, religious and historical events. Each of our experiences are unique yet so similar at the same time. My goal is to invite people into a world that seems unfamiliar and hope that they leave with compassion and understanding that we all desire the same things. To be valued and heard.

As a native Memphian, what are you excited for when you think about the future of our city? Alternatively, in what ways or in what areas do you think Memphis has some progress to make?
Memphis has such a small town feel but yet everyone lives on their own island. I’m excited to begin having conversations about connecting communities. There are so many altruistic people and organizations in Memphis that operate within their own bubbles. I would really like to see more partnerships so that we can bridge those gaps. In a place where so many people are willing to give, so many people shouldn’t be going without.

So, what’s next? If we want to keep up with you and your projects, where can we find/follow you?
There is so much footage that didn’t make it into this short film. Every interview inevitably took a deep dive into religion and the Black church. I want to take those discussions to center stage with my next film.

Is there anything else you’d like to share that we didn’t ask you about?
Although this film is for the Black, queer community, I really want our families and friends to see this film. Our most intimate relationships have such an impact on our lives and how we show up in the world. I hope this film ignites conversations within the Black community about the added plight and feelings of being ostracized by our own family and friends.

The Hometowner Documentary Shorts competition will be on Saturday, October 28th at 12:45pm. Tickets are still available and can be purchased here. Go see “Intersectionality”!