A Texas filmmaker reflects on the importance of showcasing Black joy

The short documentary film “Parker” is about a family doing what generations of African Americans could not: choosing their own last name.

By Laura RiceApril 6, 2023 12:42 pm, , ,

Funmi Ogunro was born and raised in Austin. Now, she’s based partly in Los Angeles and follows film projects across the country. The documentary short “Parker” took her to Kansas City.

“[It] basically is about three generations of a Kansas City family finally doing something that countless other Black Americans could not, which is choosing their own last name,” Ogunro says.

She says the film explores what’s in a name and the importance of legacy.

“It’s a beautiful story that highlights Black joy,” Ogunro says. “A lot of times in the past, we’ve seen Black stories that might be centered on struggle. And so we really wanted to talk about joy and see Black joy on screen. See three generations of Black fathers with their sons.”

a close up photo of the back of a light blue jersey with the name Parker in white letters

Ogunro edited “Parker,” which premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in January.

“So film editing is a very tedious and meticulous process. And, basically, as editors where we are weaving a story together. And so when I edit, I look at all the raw footage and then I basically sit down and start mapping together a story,” Ogunro says. “It’s a cliche thing to say, but it’s true: like, the magic happens in the edit, and we’re storytellers, essentially.”

At Sundance, Ogunro saw all that work come together on the big screen in front of an audience.

“The crowd responded kind of in the way that we would imagine, like story moments that were edited for comic relief, we noticed the crowd picked up on, and so the crowd would laugh at certain like funny moments, or we would hear some reactions to endearing moments,” Ogunro says.

She says having the family present and seeing their reactions was especially meaningful.

“Because, you know, I’ve edited maybe about 20 plus rough cuts of the film… I’ve been staring at the film on my computer for months. And so to finally have the audience and the Parker’s there at the premiere and hear the reactions was really nice,” Ogunro says.

If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on texasstandard.org and KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.