Free to be Free
Free to be Free “That’s How God Created Us” The story of Louisiana HB 382.
#Free to be Free “That’s How God Created Us” The story of Louisiana HB 382 / Damien D Smith / USA / 25 min
Black Women all speak Black Hair. Despite it’s unique beauty, the heavy social, economic and health implications that many Black Women face regarding our hair has led to the need to pass ordinances and Bills across Louisiana that protect those of us who choose to wear our hair in a natural hairstyle. I got the privilege, with my crew in tow, to listen to Black Women and Girls throughout the state. Sitting as their pupal, I got to honor each of their personal journeys while joyously weaving together our collective shared experiences.
Award winning actor and filmmaker Damien D. Smith is a lifelong storyteller. With more than 15 years of experience in theatre, television, and film, Smith is driven by both a responsibility to shed light on injustice and oppression and a deep-rooted passion for community, faith, and social activism.Filmmaker Damien D. Smith is an award-winning writer/director and the founder and Creative Director for 4910 Rosalie Productions and Co-Founder of Detangled.
Smith’s solo ventures and social justice collaborations fuel his passion. He uses the camera to tell powerful stories by using art to inspire and provoke change. His most recent documentary, Target: St. Louis Volume 1, which has been named the Best Documentary Feature Winner at the 2021 Urban World Film Festival. This film, inspired by a conversation with Smith’s grandmother, tells the story of how during the Post WW2 era, the United States Military conducted secret chemical testing on citizens of St. Louis’s Northside community. This difficult and insightful narrative is told through the eyes of the survivors who bravely share their experiences of being unwitting test subjects. Prior to the launch, and with a focus on global impact, screenings were held in cities across the United States, Europe and Africa.
The St. Louis native’s work is touted across the filmmaking world for his powerful work; lending his voice to important issues facing the black community. Smith’s short film, Daddy’s Big Girl, won the 2018 Filmmaker of the year at Gentleman Jack Reel to Real Short Film Competition. He also is the winner of the Arts with Impact Grand Prize Award for his short “About That.”
Born in St. Louis and raised by his grandparents, Smith developed an early appreciation for helping others. The empathy that resonates in all of his work was sparked and fostered by his grandmother and because of her influence, a message of acceptance and love to humanity is central to his work.
She imparted a deep-rooted passion for community, faith, and social activism. Her gift for taking care of those that were mentally, physically or emotionally challenged planted an irreversible seed of empathy in Smith, and a desire to shed light on various injustices and all of the“isms” that keep people from truly connecting. Having a desire to change narratives, Smith began creating his own films that centered around themes like fatherhood, mental health, and social advocacy. For the past 15 years Smith has partnered with social justice organizations across the country to assist in collaborations that infuse storytelling, grassroots organizing and issue based campaign work with the goals of raising awareness and provoking action.