'Unapologetic' depicts Black women claiming their power, changing their destiny

The Annual Black Harvest Film Festival kicked off virtually Friday
CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Annual Black Harvest Film Festival kicked off virtually Friday. The event is always an audience favorite at the Siskel Film Center.

Ahead of Saturday's premiere of the film "Unapologetic," the young director talks about her portrait of Black women rising up to make a difference during racial strife in Chicago.

Ashley O'Shay was just 22-years-old when she started making the movie. Despite having no money, O'Shay had a vision to depict Black women "unapologetic" about claiming their power and changing their destinies.

The film follows two very different women.

Bella is a fiery community organizer who raps her message, and Janae is a recent PHD student dedicated to social justice.

"We were able to build a trust and a relationship that I think you can feel in the film," O'Shay said. "An intimacy not only about the work they're doing in the community but also how they grew and transformed as Black woman during that time. Chicago has a really strong history of, it's considered the bedrock of community organizing."

O'Shay studied film at Northwestern University, and got into the Diverse Voices program at Chicago's acclaimed Kartemquin Films.

"I can't say enough positive things about the team over there, they really were a huge reason why this film even exists," O'Shay said.

When asked if there was a learning curve for her as a Black female, not just as a filmmaker, O'Shay said, "We're starting to see shifts around representation and diversity and inclusion and where people are starting to talk about how who is behind the camera matters as much as who is in front of the camera."

O'Shay said she hopes her film inspires women to lead.

"Women are powerful and amazing and smart, and I hope that they see and understand how resilient the city of Chicago is."
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