Echoes of a Winter Sunshine, which originated as the final project of Oniffe White’s film class at Fordham University, became an award-winning film after receiving recognition from Welcome Table Press. The 14-minute short feature is centered around Ashwood and Leon, a pair of homeless teenage siblings trying to survive on the streets of Harlem, New York. It’s interesting to note that the pair retain complete silence through the film, to allow the viewer more room to interpret and relate to its events.
In an interview hosted on Fordham University’s website, White reveals the origins of his film’s name; Echoes of a Winter Sunshine. He explains that even though Harlem, and other black neighborhoods, go through what he describes as a “dark winter,” they have an indomitable spirit that shines through in the form of their unique culture. Although, for our leading duo, the streets are mostly full of hard knocks. Ashwood (being the other sister) must do whatever she can to protect her younger brother, including sleeping with a razor blade under her tongue so that she has some form of protection from other darkness lurking in the night.
HEAR THE INTERVIEW WITH ONIFFE WHITE OF “ECHOES OF A WINTER SUNSHINE”.
Outside of the plot and characters of Echoes of a Winter Sunshine, White goes into detail about his relationship with the city of Harlem (where he has lived for the past four years) and his relationship with its homeless population. He talks about one of his first encounters with racism upon moving to the United States from Jamaica when he was just 10 years old. White later recounts the numerous times where he helped his father set up lighting and equipment at his workplace, something he attributes to being a major contributor to his passion for filmmaking.
Fordham’s interview also includes a behind-the-scenes video, where you can see White’s clear compassion for his crew. In a particularly memorable section, we see White coaching with Noble B. Whitted (the talent behind Leon) to help him portray his character more viscerally to make up for Leon’s lack of dialog in the film. It’s a moment that not only shows White’s caliber as a filmmaker but also his abilities as a mentor. You will find moments that show how genuine and down-to-Earth White is scattered throughout this brief video.
If you’re in or around New York City this week, check out the new short film Echoes of a Winter Sunshine by Oniffe White. It will be screening at the Chelsea Film Festival this Friday, October 18 at 11 a.m. as part of Short Film Series 3.
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Podcast: Racheal A. Mack
Contributing writer: Jordan Aslett