The 3rd Annual SVA Thesis Film Showcase
In September of 2013, Justin Thomas premiered his documentary feature film on the life of Brooklyn-based activist and CopWatch pioneer Dennis Flores at the 3rd Annual School of Visual Arts Thesis Film Showcase at the prestigious SVA theater in Manhattan. Truth Through A Lens received a glowing reception from the SVA faculty and student body; one of the screening attendees was Andrew Tilson, who is in charge of organizing the annual Workers' Unite Film Festival in New York City. Based on his impression of the film and the strength of the response from the audience, Mr. Tilson invited Mr. Thomas to submit his film to screen at the following year's Workers' Unite festival.
The Workers' Unite Film Festival
In April of 2014, Justin Thomas' debut feature-length documentary film Truth Through A Lens made its festival debut at the Workers' Unite Film Festival at The Cinema Village in Manhattan. It received a rousing reception from the audience, and Mr. Thomas and film subject Dennis Flores were on-hand to discuss the film in the ensuing Q&A. The awards committee for the festival convened following the screening, and in May of 2014 it was announced that Truth Through A Lens had officially won the coveted prize of Best Documentary Feature for that year. It was an honor that Mr. Thomas graciously accepted, and he is now a member of the prestigious Workers' Unite Film Alumni.
Truth Through A Lens Film Review from The North Star
In February of 2015, Truth Through A Lens was screened by Louis Proyect, a critic writing for The North Star newspaper. In his review of the film, Mr. Proyect stated "Thomas is a remarkable director who is doing through film what so many of his peers are doing through their activism: confronting injustice", and further asserted that "It is an inspiring and well-crafted film that pays tribute to the gifts of a young filmmaker and the community activist who served as its inspiration." To read the full article, follow this link: http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=12213
Socially Relevant Film Festival NY
In February of 2015, Truth Through A Lens became an Official Selection at the New York Socially Relevant Film Festival. The film was screened in Harlem's Maysles Cinemas, a landmark location for New York independent cinema and home to the late Albert Maysles, who was an advisor on The Grey Movie, Mr. Thomas' 2008 collaboration with fellow documentarian Nicholas Bruckman. During the Q&A for "Truth Through A Lens", Mr. Thomas was approached with questions, many from international film-makers and media, regarding the state of policing in the United States and how police brutality disproportionately targets poor communities and communities of color.
Launch Party for Music Video of Kae Hock's "New World"
In the winter of 2015, Mr. Thomas was hired by New Jersey-based media production company IRIS as the cinematographer of a music video for Delaware hip hop artist Kae Hock and his single "New World". The project was completed in the spring, and in June the video had its world-premiere at New York's MergeArts Showcase. The cast and crew of the "New World" music video, including Mr. Thomas, Kae Hock, actor Matthew Mezzacappa, and producers Kazi Jones, Alexis Slade, and Clifford Joseph made an appearence onstage prior to the screening to introduce the video and its concept to the audience, who ecstatically received the song and its accompanying visuals. The video, which was edited by Allison Anastasio, can be viewed here: http://allhiphop.com/2015/06/17/kae-hock-new-world/
Promotional Video for Sunset Park Puerto Rican Day Parade
In the summer of 2015, Mr. Thomas was commissioned by Dennis Flores and his CopWatch activist organization El Grito De Sunset Park to produce a campaign video. They requested a video showcasing the pride and resiliency of the Puerto Rican residents of the Sunset Park community, who annually celebrate their heritage and culture during the Puerto Rican Day parade in spite of constant harassment and brutality at the hands of that neighborhood's police department. Mr. Thomas' video went viral, and was featured in an article covering the event in the New York newspaper The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josmar-trujillo/puerto-rican-pride-as-sun_b_7540022.html. The campaign was successful and resulted in the first Puerto Rican parade in the Sunset Park community that had not been marred by arrests or police violence in nearly 30 years.
Freelance Videos produced for And Now Media
Beginning in the fall of 2014, Mr. Thomas began working as a freelance editor, videographer, and production assistant for the Yonkers-based company And Now Media. Throughout 2015 and 2016, he was employed to edit journalistic newsreels, profile pieces, and marketing and campaign videos for various organizations through whom And Now Media had been commissioned. Among these organizations were the Columbia Dupont Awards (which annually awards outstanding journalism and reporting throughout the international community), and the Council for Economic Education, who host annual events showcasing youth from pre-school and elementary all the way through high school that show aptitude and promise in the field of economic studies. The council also awards teachers from these various grade levels for excellence in curriculum and outreach to the student community nationwide. Mr. Thomas edited content for And Now Media that was used for both awards programs. The following two videos are examples of each:
https://vimeo.com/156308639 (DuPont Awards 2015), and https://vimeo.com/156308604 (Council for Economic Education 2015).
Interview on the Eve of the 2016 Presidential Election
On November 7, 2016 Mr. Thomas sat down with Kazembe Balagun, an accomplished and respected community activist, educator, and organizer, to discuss the state of America on the eve of the 2016 Presidential election. As Mr. Thomas filmed, Mr. Balagun went into detail about the various factors that he believed had brought about the imminent decay of American politics and the decline in what had previously been perceived as the American dream for the country's working class and many other disenfranchised demographics throughout American society. The following night, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to become the 45th President of the United States. Mr. Thomas edited and released his video on social media one week later, which quickly went viral and drew an impassioned response from communities who reacted with fear and apprehension to the political and social implications of a Trump presidency:
The 2017 Women's March on Washington
In January of 2017, Justin joined nearly a million people from around the country to partake in the historic Women's March on Washington. Coming just one day after the inauguration of Donald Trump into the White House, the sentiment of the day was charged with raw emotion and a spirit of solidarity and resistance to the agenda of the incoming administration. Justin brought his camera and was able to capture the resonant urgency and fervor of the march, and preserved a moment in our collective memory which will not be forgotten anytime soon.
Sophia Dawson: "Purpose" included as an Official Selection at the 2019 Shortie Film Festival
In September of 2014, Justin sat down with artist and activist Sophia Dawson. Over the course of one afternoon at her studio in Brownsville, Brooklyn, Sophia recited the story of how she came to be a prolific painter and visual artist, how her family grounds her and motivates her, and how her dedication to her community (particularly those who have been wrongfully imprisoned or killed due to state oppression and violence) has both inspired and informed much of her creativity.
In January 2019, Justin revisited this footage and edited together a moving short documentary about Ms. Dawson's life and work. In September 2019, exactly five years after they sat down for the interview, this documentary was named as an Official Selection at the First Annual Shortie Film Festival in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Out of hundreds of submissions received from more than 40 countries, the judging panel voted to select this film for inclusion.
Intercontinental Kint: "Barbershop Talk" Music Video
In November of 2019, Justin was hired by cinematographer Chiney Lee to direct a music video for the first single from the latest album by New Jersey-based independent Hip Hop artist Intercontinental Kint.
Justin collaborated with the artist in conceiving the plot and design of the video, and production took place the weekend of November 9th-10th in the rapper's home base of Perth Amboy, NJ. Chiney Lee handled Director of Photography duties, while Justin directed and brought on a friend and colleague, Reginald Thomas, as Production Assistant.
After filming wrapped, it was decided by the creative team that Justin should also edit the project together. On December 6th, Justin delivered the final cut of the video to Kint and his management, and it was officially released to praise from the underground hip hop community that weekend: https://vimeo.com/377927648
Sophia Dawson: "Purpose" Wins Honorable Mention at the 9th Annual Workers Unite Film Festival
In the spring of 2020, Justin returned as an alumni director to the Workers Unite Film Festival when his documentary short "Sophia Dawson: PURPOSE" was chosen as an official selection for the festival's 9th Annual Showcase. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the screenings were held virtually over three different periods; the summer screenings, in particular, were dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement. After the final set of screenings in November of 2020, Justin's film was voted as "Honorable Mention: Documentary Short". More details can be found here: