Benita Ozoude met the executive director of the Capital City Black Film Festival in a Cajun soul food restaurant this summer while shooting a film. A few months later, Ozoude would be able to cross “film festival” off her goal list.
Ozoude, a radio-television-film and journalism senior, will debut her documentary, “The Queen of Rosewood,” on Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Capital City Black Film Festival at the Austin Convention Center.
Ozoude entered the University as a pharmacy major, but after two years in the College of Natural Sciences, she decided to pursue filmmaking instead.
“I want to create things,” Ozoude said. “I want to make videos to bring awareness to certain situations people don’t know but need to know about.”
Ozoude was denied the first time she applied to the RTF program but transferred into the College of Communication as a journalism major, hoping the process would be easier from within. She applied a second time to the RTF program and was accepted.
This is where Ozoude found her real passion, at the intersection of filmmaking and reporting.
“I don’t like to create my own stories,” Ozoude said. “But I like to look for stories and translate that in a visual form.”
The documentary brings the viewer into the life of Miss Lola, a Christian restaurant owner who feeds the homeless every Sunday, seeing her service as a calling from God. The story spoke to Ozoude.
“She’s a strong, strong Christian, which I love because she was unapologetic for it,” Ozoude said. “I didn’t edit anything out — if she’s talking about God she’s talking about God. And people really
Ozoude’s visual storytelling didn’t go unnoticed by journalism lecturer Robert Garcia-Buckalew, who taught her portfolio class. He was immediately impressed at the level of craftsmanship Ozoude had behind a camera.
“Her camera work was excellent,” Garcia-Buckalew said. “She has a very unique style that is more spontaneous. Her handheld work is extremely vivid and captures a kind of rhythm and pacing that allows the viewer to experience the moment.”
Garcia-Buckalew said Ozoude excelled in capturing a difficult story.
“I liked the fact that although it was a challenging story to cover she really placed herself in the middle of the story as an observer to capture a really terrific video,” he said.
After viewing the film, one student thanked Ozoude for not avoiding the religious aspect.
“A student grabbed my hand and said, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so thankful that you didn’t try and hide God,’” Ozoude said. “In journalism these days, people are afraid to talk about religion, especially at UT. They try and push out God, and I can’t do that.”
Ozoude said Garcia-Buckalew’s class and the film festival have helped her realize her potential.
“I think I have more confidence in myself, and [I think] ‘Hey, I am talented and I can do this.’” Ozoude said. “I should submit to more film festivals.”
When asked about her success, Ozoude remains humble.
“It gives me hope, just to be so successful,” Ozoude said. “I accredit that to God, because there are some people that have been in journalism since their freshman year, and they haven’t done the things I’ve done. I’m always praying, that’s what keeps me hopeful.”