With the release of Jordan Peele's Us, it's a reminder we are seeing the resurgence of stories created by Black film and television writers in a variety of genres.
Adding to this slate are A Night at the Table and Appetizer, two independent short films brought to you by Tamara S. Hall, an actress, writer and filmmaker who just launched her production company, A Flower in Fire, to highlight stories centering Black women.
Hailing from Philadelphia, Tamara S. Hall cites Jordan Peele, Jonathan Demme and Shonda Rhimes as some of her influences as a storyteller. Her influences are evident in the array of genres she tackles. While Appetizer is a rom-com, Hall presents even more of a rarity with A Night at the Table, a horror short through the lens of a Black woman.
The premise of A Night at the Table is pretty simple. A mother named Sherry prepares food for a seemingly normal family night dinner. As the conversation between her and her kids grows more peculiar, tension mounts between the three, unveiling a lurking threat at the table. Hall, who wrote and directed the horror piece, was inspired by a chilling and bizarre CNN article regarding a mother's reaction to the verdict of her child's killer.
“It explores the theme of forgiveness as it relates to mothers in the Black community and also seeks to unpack how this demographic of mothers are allowed to grieve,” Hall said. “We live in a time where Black women are often ignored as it relates to their experience with pain because we are seen as 'superwomen' and are often the backbones of our families.”
Photo: Ty Stone/ A Flower In Fire
Hall also used her grandmother, who lost her son to gun violence, as a personal inspiration for the horror short. “Having witnessed, at 11 years old, the various stages of grief that a mother experiences following the death of her child, I felt that this was a significant story to start that dialogue and to showcase pain that is often ignored or shunned into suppression,” she continued. A Night at the Table also stars Dierdra McDowell, David Alan Madrick, Keith Dorman, Christian Booker, Kimi Freeman, Sarah Freeman, Jaden Antonelli and Bryce Byrd.
For the rom-com Appetizer, Hall assembled a crew of Black women to tell the tale of Charley, a young woman still struggling with heartbreak following a recent breakup who finds the courage to go on her first date in months. However, Charley finds out that her newfound love interest has been holding on to a date-shattering secret.
Hall, who wrote the script and played the role of Charley in the short film, was intent on creating a romantic comedy that did not end with the typical Prince Charming fairytale.
“Similar to Frozen, I felt that it was an important and opportune time to create a story where the protagonist's fulfillment could only come from "true" love and for Charley, the film's main character, I wanted that love to be within herself,” Hall said of Appetizer. “In this current dating climate, I feel that we too often seek validation from others when it comes to living a fulfilled life.” Appetizer was directed Ayanda Chisolm, and the film also stars Malcolm Chavis, Maurita Salkey, Monica Henry and Latresa Baker.
In the words of Ava DuVernay, Hall is clearly paying close attention to her intention when it comes to the type of stories in which A Flower in Fire Productions will specialize. "There is no limit on the type of projects that we seek to put out," she says. "We have stories that encompass a multitude of genres."
Just recently, Hall launched her crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to complete the post-production of both A Night at the Table and Appetizer.
Check out the video for Hall's Indiegogo campaign below.
You can support A Night at the Table and Appetizer in their post-production Indiegogo campaigns here.