tracks_photo_web.jpgDeana Williams has known that she would be a filmmaker since she was 12 years old, when she wrote her first script and made her first movie. She intended to pursue a career as a filmmaker and even earned a bachelor's degree in film from the Art Institute of Miami. But after college her plans were derailed when, “life kind of happened,” she said.

Williams, 29, eventually made her w aay to the film and technology program at Miami Dade College, where being employed as an equipment room manager kept her close to the filmmaking action by dispersing cameras and other equipment to film students. The irony of her job compelled her to finally take action on her own dream.

“I’m helping all these students make films,” she said, “I’ve got to make my own.”

In 2009, she wrote and directed Tracks, “a true story about the first time that I fell in love.”

The short coming of age film about a lesbian relationship was shot in seven days for a budget of $7,000 and released in 2010.

Tracks, already shown at 12 film festivals, will screen at the Women’s International Film and Arts Festival on Saturday, April 2. Now in its sixth year, WIFF celebrates women filmmakers like Williams by giving them a platform to share their work.

Founded in 2005 by Yvonne McCormack-Lyons to address the dearth of women filmmakers in the world, the festival hit the ground running with the legendary Ruby Dee serving as honorary chair in 2006 and 2007. Formerly based in Miami, Miami New Times recognized WIFF as Miami's best film festival in 2007.

Now based in Broward County, the festival opened on Wed., March 30 with a star-studded red carpet event that featured Latin Music USA:  Divas and Superstars, a film directed by local, Emmy Award winning filmmaker, Adriana Bosche.  The festival continues through Sunday, April 3, and will offer a diverse selection of over 50 films from over 25 countries, including Austria, Argentina, India, Brazil, France, Haiti, Italy, Israel, Iran, Japan, Netherlands, Spain and Palestine.

In addition to the film screenings, Gregory Allen Howard, writer of Remember the Titans which starred Denzel Washington, will facilitate “True Story to Screen,” a writer’s workshop on Saturday, April 2. On the same day, actress Jo Marie Payton from the 1990’s sitcom Family Matters will present a children’s acting workshop.

“Our sixth year anniversary is especially exciting because we have the support of the city of Hollywood. Film lovers will get to experience the city in a very refreshing way that supports our cause and the city and all its beauty.” said  McCormack-Lyons.  

Other films that will be featured in this year’s festival include; Wise Women Speak, a documentary featuring actresses Jane Fonda, Della Reese, poet Nikki Giovanni and former Essence magazine editor Susan Taylor; The Whistle Blower starring Academy Award winners Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, and

Monica Belluci and Forget Me Not with Tobias Menzis of HBO’s mini series Rome.

Renee Michelle Harris may be reached at