Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of interning for the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and have been given the opportunity to film and experience the amazing cultural exhibition that is the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
It is an extraordinary thing, to not only witness and learn about the two diverse cultures of China and Kenya, but to see worlds coming together. Through an interview with my new friend, master stone carver Elkana Ong’esa, I began to see just how vital this event was to moving forward as one people, as human beings. He had nothing but beautiful thoughts to express, and he is the inspiration for this piece.
After hearing what this Festival meant to him, a deeper appreciation instantly grew within me, and I knew I had to put this film together and tell it the best I possibly could. I knew I had to film that sunrise, I knew I had to nail the fireworks display, I knew I had to run around every single day to capture every moment of sheer joy the visitors and participants were getting from the Festival. Through hot days and long days, I always kept the greater purpose of Elkana’s words in mind when hitting the record button.
I worked with fellow intern extraordinaire Ed Fry to create a natural and welcoming narration with words I wrote to complement the ideals of the film. Ed was a pleasure to work with and added great energy and talent to the entire shoot.
I genuinely hope you enjoy watching it, reliving the Festival and hearing Elkana’s powerful message encompassing it all.
This is what it is all about to me as an aspiring filmmaker: telling powerful stories and collaborating with wonderful people.
Albert Tong is a video production intern at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and runs the production company Center Peace Cinemas.