'Dear Father,' featuring actor Malik Yoba and Councilmember Robert Cornegy, shares honest conversations around fatherhood and legacy, and healing
"Dear Father," an honest and intimate conversation analyzing fatherhood, legacy and forgiveness, is a short documentary filmed in Brooklyn, directed by Richard Louissaint and produced by Harry "DJ Hard Hittin Harry" D'Janite and Jimmy "DJ Super JB" Brea.
Inspired by the passing of D'Janite's father, Joseph D. Djanite aka "Papido," the film features commentary from actor Malik Yoba, Brooklyn Councilmember Robert E. Cornegy Jr., scientist and author Tamykah Anthony-Marston, as well as various perspectives from D'Janite's children.
"'Dear Father' is a way for people to analyze their own relationship with their dad," said D'Janite. "While coping with my father's death I talked to a lot of people about their relationships with their fathers. I started asking questions like, 'What's your relationship with your dad like?' or 'What does it mean to be a father?'"
D'Janite himself had a troubled and volatile relationship with his father. Still following his father's passing, he felt the need to honor him and to tell his story. The Haiti-born DJ, producer and radio host, started by releasing a record with his partner DJ Super JB, titled "Dear Father."
The record garnered wide attention, including that of Johari "SuperNova" James, host of the "Culture Brunch" in Brownsville. James suggested hosting a special Father's Day edition of the event, both as a tribute to the late D'Janite as well as a way to further a much-needed conversation around black fatherhood. D'Janite went to work right away.
"This is a story I had to tell, not only about my father but fatherhood in general," he said. "It's a discussion I felt we needed to have."
Actor Malik Yoba, Councilman Robert E. Cornegy and scientist and author Tamykah Anthony-Marston joined the panel and shared their personal ideas of fathers, fatherhood and legacy. Director Richard Louissaint captured the discussion, added interviews and conversations, creating a 16-minute analysis of fatherhood.
The film highlights these honest conversations which include both positive stories of male role models, as well as the not-so-great stories of those fathers who are not around for their families, negative stereotypes too often portrayed by the media as the only reality.
"There are countless fathers like me who are in their children's lives and who need their stories told. I know they are out there because I know them personally," he said. "But we also need to tell the stories of those who are not doing what they're supposed to be doing. It's a lesson worth learning for men who are about to be fathers. They need to see what not to be."
So far, "Dear Father" has been featured at screenings all around New York and participated in various film festivals including the New York Short Film Festival and the Newark International Film Festival, where Louissaint received an award for Director of Best Documentary Short Film. D'Janite and his team will continue to submit the documentary to film festivals; they also plan to create an ongoing series or feature film to bring more stories to the forefront - and to continue the conversation.
"There are a lot of untold stories. Everybody has different experiences," shared D'Janite. "These 'universal truths' of fatherhood inspire me to continue to work on this project and to do more for this film. Maybe create a web series, a feature film, a story on my dad. There is more to be told and I hope this film opens up the discussion on fatherhood in general."
The journey of "Dear Father" continues on Tuesday, November 28, presented by the Luminal Theater at Richard Beaver's Gallery in Bedford Stuyvesant. The screening begins at 7:00 pm. For tickets go here.