When Miles Iton, then a student at New College of Florida, contemplated creating his senior thesis project, he looked to his own experiences as a student body president. The end result was Sincerely, the Black Kids, a documentary that examines the racism black student leaders experience on college campuses. Iton, the film's director, as well as producer Shakira Refos, the former director of community and outreach for the Sarasota Film Festival, and videographer, Eduardo Correa, a former student at Ringing College of Art and Design, talked to black student leaders at New College, Clemson, American and Cornell University about harassment on predominately white academic institutions.
The film has traveled across the country since its initial test screening in Sarasota last May. The documentary has been screened at the Atlantic Black Gay Pride Film Festival, the Gary International Black Film Festival, the Social Justice Film Festival, the Spokane Social Justice Film Festival, the North Carolina Black Film Festival, Imagine Belfast and the Pan-African Film Festival. The documentary received the silver jury prize in the Documentary Short category at the Social Justice Film Festival, the Programmer's Award for Documentary Short at the Pan-African Film Festival and was screened as a "Best of Fest" feature at the Spokane Social Justice Film Festival.
"It's pretty validating given what the film was about and the obstacles we had to go through to make it," Iton says. "We've been contacted from people interested in showing it at other college campuses, and even by the Unitarian Universalists church in California. It's definitely more than we thought."
Next year, the group plan to submit the film to the Sundance Film Festival and Iton hopes to have the opportunity to screen it in his hometown of Miami.
As a documentary that initially started with students at New College, Iton believes that Sarasota has a lot to learn from the film, particularly due to the fact that the film documents acts of racism on progressive, liberal college campuses.
"Sarasota could stand to learn not to politicize the race issue," Iton says. "Our film shows that you can very well find racism in progressive spaces, as well as conservative ones. It's really a bipartisan issue. There is more to this documentary than, 'Something racist happened on a college campus.' I really wanted to highlight the persistent, systemic issue of racism on college campuses. Even when these students are able to achieve power [as student leaders], we haven't actually done enough."