Saturday, February 24, 2024

Kelley Kali Making Films as a Medium to Spread Social Awareness

The ability to be attuned to and be aware of others is the basic element of social communication. People today need to comprehend the importance of being empathic and warm towards others and understand that everyone has a different battle to deal with. While NGOs and social activists are playing their part in spreading awareness about issues that need recognition on a societal level, the entertainment industry has stepped in too. 

The worldwide reach and deep impact of the content created by the entertainment industry is no hidden news. Whenever a person watches a movie, they always take something from it, which later ends up being a part of their personality. Recognizing this strong influence among the audience, film producers, directors, scriptwriters worldwide have adopted the approach of penning stories that highlights deep-rooted societal problems. One of these films is I’M FINE (Thanks for Asking), a feature film released on OTT platforms such as BET Her, BET+, iTunes, and Amazon Prime on August 7, 2021. It World Premiered at SXSW on March 17, 2021. The story revolves around a recently widowed mother who becomes houseless and convinces her 8-year-old daughter that they are only camping for fun while working on getting them off of the streets. The movie is an eye-opener for those unaware of the struggles and adversities a single mother face. This thought-provoking and soul-touching movie is a creation of Kelley Kali, who has acted, directed, written     and produced it alongside two of her fellow USC friends that she brought on to the project. 

Kelley Kali is a content creator of modern times. She clearly understands the psyche of the audience and the type of content they now consume. Acknowledging the need for people to know the struggles of homelessness and single-motherhood, Kali put her heart and soul into this project. Her hard work and dedication paid off when the film was well received by the audience and critics alike. It was screened globally and became the recipient of multiple awards, including the “Multi-Hyphenate Storyteller” award to Kelley Kali from the SXSW Film Festival for all of the positions she took on. Kelley’s exceptional filmmaking skills were appreciated through awards such as the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature and Persistence of Vision by the Florida Film Festival. The film was also nominated for Best Feature Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Geneva International Film Festival, The American Film Festival, and SXSW Film Festival. 

Not all artists have a responsibility to be socially or politically aware, but they do have a responsibility to make great art. They have to find some truth and put that into their creation. – Michael Franti 

Franti’s quotes have great resonance with Kelley Kali’s outlook on films. She believes that films are the most convenient yet impactful ways to put a point across. People tend to understand problems better when there’s an emotional aspect involved. Kali’s career or movie choice, to be specific, defines her vision. Prior to I’M FINE (Thanks for Asking), she created Lalo’s House, a short film in 2018. The film is inspired by true events, focusing on two Haitian sisters who were abducted from home and sold to child sex trafficking. Being the director of the film Kelley Kali, used her precision and experience to bring the best on the screen. The film has won several awards such as Best Short Film at Calcutta International Cult Film Festival, Carthage Film Festival, DGA Student Awards, and the Student Academy Awards. 

Kali’s academic choice indicates that she has a determined personality, someone who does not deviate from their goals and achieves them no matter what. She won a scholarship at Howard University and one at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts for her Masters’s degree in film. Her talent and passion for creating meaningful films simply shined through her personality. She immediately became the president of the School of Cinematic Arts Graduate Council and held the position for three consecutive years. During her learning years, she created content that helped her earn the Johnny Carson Scholarship, Annenberg Fellowship,       the Jack Oakie Comedy Fellowship, and headed the USC Comedy division as the selected fellow. She followed the path of her dreams and enrolled herself in Ivana Chubbuck Studios, where she was trained professionally for acting. Her training prepared her to combine different filmmaking areas, such as acting and directing. Kelley’s skills spoke volumes and enabled her to make herself worthy of being awarded funding from Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s New Form Digital for her fantasy web series pilot, “The Discovery of Dit Dodson.

Versatility is an extra string to a player’s bow. – Alex Oxlade – Chamberlain

Kelley Kali, honing all of the major filmmaking skills, acting, directing, writing, and producing is truly inspiring. Her commitment towards films and a fresh mindset that lays emphasis on highlighting societal problems is commendable. With a charming personality combined with great intellect, Kelley Kali is a force to be reckoned with!

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