Hazel Joyner-Smith established the International Black Film Festival of Nashville to create a platform that would cultivate a culture of creativity among Black creatives and filmmakers.
We highlight how people tell their stories, and we are in the biggest storytelling time of our lives.
Hazel Joyner-Smith, Founder & CEO of International Black Film Festival of Nashville
Hazel Joyner-Smith is an educator and farmer at heart having been born in a small rural farming community in Reidsville, North Carolina.
After spending a few years as a classroom teacher but later transitioned to other leadership roles. She served as the program director of the Race Relations Institute at Fisk University, the director of the first HIV and AIDS Organization in North Carolina, a radio personality, and international negotiator for human rights issues.
Her passion to educate communities led to her work as a key organizer of the Film Festival hosted at Fisk University before establishing the International Black Film Festival of Nashville. As the first and only ongoing International Black Film Festival in the state of Tennessee, the festival has gained recognition in the national and international festival arenas and further cementing Nashville in the cultural scene.
The rank of chevalier, or knight, in France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres was bestowed to Joyner-Smith for her lifelong contributions in furthering the arts in France and throughout the world while enhancing Tennessee’s cultural arena. Established in 1957 and awarded by France’s Minister of State for Cultural Affairs, The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres recognizes significant contributions to the French arts, literature or the propagation of these fields abroad. Laureates include both natives of France and non-natives. Recent American recipients include Paul Auster, Morgan Freeman, and Meryl Streep. The Consul General of France in Atlanta, Pascal Le Deunff, visited Nashville to present Joyner-Smith with the Arts et Lettres Medal Award during a private reception on September 22, 2011.
Joyner-Smith earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Winston-Salem State University and a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from North Carolina A&T State University.
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