"Color of Autumn," A Film Directed by Aimiende Negbenebor Sela


This film, titled "Color of Autumn," is directed by Aimiende Negbenebor. It premiered at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival on November 14th, 2023. Aimiende Negbenebor Sela is an award-winning director known for her narrative short films. The screenplay for "Color of Autumn" is adapted from a short story written by Constance Nicole Frierson, a renowned writer and social justice arts practitioner from Chicago. The film is co-produced by Hold This While IP Productions, YháWright Productions, and Magic & Moxie Productions. Additionally, the music for the film is composed by Charlie Peacock, a highly acclaimed jazz and pop recording artist who has won four Grammy® Awards. Ruby Amanfu, a talented recording artist and songwriter who has been nominated for awards such as Grammy, Soul Train, and BET Awards, performs one of the songs in the film.

Color of Autumn is a compelling and emotionally charged narrative short film that transports viewers to 1966 Chicago. It follows the heart-wrenching journey of an innocent eight-year-old Black girl growing up on the Southside, who is abruptly confronted with the harsh reality of racism on the playground. This thought-provoking film explores profound themes such as the loss of innocence, Black masculinity, peer pressure, hate speech, and their impact on society. Audiences of all generations can find resonance in this moving story. Furthermore, the dedicated team behind Color of Autumn has collaborated with education leaders to develop curriculum initiatives that complement and enrich the film's narrative content.


 Color of Autumn Interview

How old were you when you became interested in filmmaking?

I have always loved films (for as long as I can remember, they've helped me make sense of the world) but I got interested in filmmaking later in life. I was in my early thirties. After graduating college with degrees in Computer Engineering and Literature, I worked in I.T. for a few years before finding my way back to my true passion, the Arts, first through acting in theater, then studying screenwriting and jumping head first into making my first award-winning short film, As a Beautiful Girl.

How do People describe your films, can you elaborate on that?

A friend of mine described me as a filmmaker with an eye for humanism. I am a humanist and my films tend to interrogate the human condition, but with empathy. I've heard my films described as heart-felt, full of soul and depth, a film that sparks conversation, among other such compliments and I’m so grateful for that because it means I am being an authentic storyteller. I want anyone who sees any of my work to interact with it on a personal level. To be entertained, yes, but also educated (not preached to or judged) and hopefully inspired.

What prompted you to make this film?

I met Pamela Weiss, Executive Producer of this film, at the Austin Film Festival a few years ago. We came in second and third respectively in the festival's annual pitching contest, me with a drama and Pamela with a comedy script and we stayed in touch. She has supported a handful of my film campaigns over the years and she suggested me to Rebecca Bloom, one of the screenwriters and a producer on this film as well, when she first began her search for a director. Long story short, I read the script and loved its message, and its intention, and the rest, as they say, is history.

You create great films, how long is the process?

Thank you. My process varies based on the piece I’m working on, but from development through post-production, most of my short films take me about a year to three to complete.

Tell me about your most talked about films.

I’ll say my most talked about film to date is Utopia, a short film about a Ugandan woman who ends up in a coma as a result of a hate crime and reimagines her existence as a Caucasian woman living free in California. She does eventually wake up from the coma and has to deal with her reality back in Kampala. It’s a proof of concept for a feature film, and I am working on the manuscript as well; slowly. I’m on my second revision of the book.

Do your films connect to your lifestyle?

I believe they do. As artists, we draw from our lived experiences, right? So, whether consciously or subconsciously we are always pulling from our experiences, wishes, reality, thoughts and dreams, and other influences on our lives. So, yes, I definitely feel my work connects to my lifestyle.

When an audience watches your films, what do you want to take from that experience?

I want them to see themselves in the characters on screen, relate to them in their own way of course, and ask questions. These may or may not be hard questions, but I’d like for them to be asked of themselves and of others around them. I feel if we are able to see ourselves in each other, it will definitely affect the way we interact with each other as human beings, the way we treat each other, our level of empathy and kindness toward one another. I want my audience to sit with each other and their friends and family and have a conversation… This thing we no longer seem to be able to do as a people, just talk. Hear differing opinions and accept that there is space for differing opinions. We don’t need to bully and cancel and shame people who don’t share the same perspective as we do, or buy into the latest or trendy point of view. I also want us to consider change. Consider being an agent of change, taking the first step maybe…

Who inspires you?

I draw inspiration from so many facets of my life… My adopted dad, for instance, is an example of resilience to me and I am inspired by him. I am inspired by my husband, someone I deeply admire, and I am inspired by the films, books, art, and music I consume. It truly is a privilege for me to have access to these things and I draw inspiration from them all.

What are you working on now?

Well, I finished a musical drama short film called “As the Cookie Crumbles" earlier in the year and it’s currently on the festival circuit. It is Oscar qualified, and officially in competition, so I am working on the campaign for that. It would truly be an honor to make it to the nominations, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Outside of that, I am currently in post-production on another short that’s dear to me, it’s been over three years in the making, called “8:46 PM. Harriet Arrives.” It’s a story about a little girl who witnesses a crime outside her window and unwittingly beckons the spirit of Harriet Tubman out of her storybook into her world to help her right some wrongs. The film is fiscally sponsored by Film Independent, so we are continuing to fundraise through the process. I’m essentially working on fundraising in tandem with post-production.

Do you have a favorite Actor and filmmaker?

Oh, my days. I wouldn’t know where to begin! I have several… Let’s put it this way, there are several actors I would love to work with. Viola Davis, Idris Elba, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, of course, David Oyelowo, Colman Domingo, soooo many, I feel wrong not listing them all, but hopefully these few give you an idea of the style of acting I admire, but also of the people themselves. Actors contribute so much to our lives, you know? Anyway, in terms of filmmakers, let’s go with Mira Nair, Sofia Coppola, Ava DeVernay, Lynn Ramsey, Julie Dash, Luca Guadagnino, David Lynch, Guillermo Del Toro, Guy Ritchie, Francois Girard, and the list again goes on! Lol! I have favorites, with an “s.”

What is your educational background in filmmaking?

I am self-taught. I have degrees in Computer Engineering and Literature. Worked in I.T. for a few years and transitioned through acting in the theater to screenwriting and filmmaking. I learned on the go and made all the mistakes in the book. I took workshops and classes, worked on other filmmakers’ projects, and tried to get better with each film I made. I’ve made thirteen short films to date.

How can fans connect with you, what are your social media platforms?

I’m on social media @aimiende (personal) and @selafilms (production company) and my website is www.selafilms.com to learn more about my work.

Any hobbies?

I love to read. Books are a good escape for me. I love going to the movies and cuddling up to a good film or TV show with my husband at home. Yoga and meditation are more than hobbies really, they are part of my lifestyle, and I love to practice often. Listening to good music is life-giving to me.

What do you do in your spare time?

Spare time, what’s that? Lol! Just kidding, I am big on self-care. As I mentioned, yoga and meditation are very important for my sanity. Whenever I can, I love to travel, even if locally.

Do you have any other careers, or interests besides filmmaking?

Writing. I’ve written a couple of published short stories and I am working on a manuscript for a novel at the moment, “Utopia.”

If you could work with any famous filmmaker or Actor who would it be?

I mentioned some of them above.

Describe life in your city.

I live in Long Beach right now with my husband, and we split our time between Brooklyn, our families are based in New York, and California. I love Long Beach and its neighborhood. We have our local spots, it’s walkable, which is a thing for California where one drives everywhere! And of course, Brooklyn is everything. I’m sorry, I’m a consummate New Yorker. How to describe life in New York…? I’ll say it’s invigorating. So much culture and things to do. I love New York.

Who is the most creative and who is more business-minded?

My apologies, I don’t understand this last question… If you’re talking about my marriage, I think we are both creatives, though he’s a behavior change coach and works in wellness and fitness. I am by necessity, I run a business, business-minded, but a creative first.

It was a pleasure to interview Director Aimiende Negbenebor, who has a bright future in the world of filmmaking.

By Anita Johnson-Brown

About Aimiende Negbenebor Sela 

Aimiende Negbenebor Sela is a Writer-Director of Nigerian descent,
  raised by a Jewish-Israeli family from the Bronx. Her award-winning
  Short films have been screened at numerous festivals across the world. Her
  work interrogates the human condition, but with empathy; as she truly
  believes we all live the same lives, we're just colored differently.
  Her production company, Sela Films LLC, was born out of this belief to
  help push the boundaries of innovation, inclusion, diversity, and
  creativity with a focus on humanism.
  About Constance Nicole Frierson
  Constance Nicole Frierson grew up on the Southside of Chicago after
  spending 5 years of her early life in Mobile, Alabama. Her
 professional experience includes higher education, financial services,
   corporate healthcare, and media management. Currently, she's a
  working writer and social justice arts practitioner putting the
  finishing touches on her autobiographical novel, The House on Union

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