The face behind the film: Janay Kelley wins Indie Memphis Youth Film Festival


Kelley (11) excitedly displays the Grand Jury Prize for her film “The Death of Hip Hop.”

Steven Spielberg. Wes Anderson. George Lucas. These are all well-known directors. But did you know there is an award-winning filmographer at White Station? Her name is Janay Kelley.

Sept. 8 marked the third annual Indie Memphis Youth Film Festival in which a few young filmmakers were selected to showcase their work to an audience of hundreds of people.

Using only a black backdrop and her voice, Kelley recorded her film “The Death of Hip Hop.”

“It’s a poem where I use a whole bunch of classic rap and hip hop references to describe a neighborhood and how the people in that neighborhood interact with each other,” Kelley (11) said.

Without her knowledge, Kelley’s supervisor entered her film into the festival, where it was chosen to be debuted. Participating in the event helped Kelley find her love for filmmaking and encouraged her to enter more festivals in the future.

“I really have an undiscovered passion for filmmaking, and the fact that I have the opportunity to make more films is just something I really want to explore,” Kelley said.

The positive experience and supportive atmosphere are the main reasons why Kelley recommends festivals to fellow lovers of film.

“If you feel singled-out, that’s why you go to these film festivals,” Kelley said. “You can come and have a community.”