Following the screening of Pick A Side: Lesbian or Black we caught up with its creator Sychelle-Kristina Yanda about the inspiration behind the film.
“The inspiration comes from a very close member of my family coming out to me and feeling suicidal because of it. She said she was unable to tell anyone else, not her mum – nobody. She just couldn’t help how she felt,” explains Sychelle. “I was really moved by this but hurt at the same time that she had to live a lie in the name of impressing her family and sticking to what they believe. It raised a question in my head. WHY?”
It was this question and Sychelle’s studies that led to the making of Pick A Side: Lesbian or Black. In the third year of her journalism degree, she was told that she was allowed to speak on any chosen topic and deliver it in any way, but that it MUST be in a journalistic style.
“I thought deep and hard about this. How can I intertwine my film career with my journalism degree?,” Sychelle says. “I kept telling myself ‘I’m so used to separating the two’”
Sychelle had developed a passion for film during her journalism course and had been publishing books, before adapting them into short films and entering them to festivals, while also balancing her studies.
Deciding to pursue a film career after her degree, Sychelle decided to use this final project as a way into the next steps of her life.
“It all became clearer to me. I wanted to create something that spoke for my community, a topic close to me, something I was passionate about AND something I could take into the next stages of my career,” says Sychelle.
As well as creating a powerful and thought provoking film, the outcome of her final project also had a significant personal impact. “After watching my documentary, my close family member came out to her family,” Sychelle says. “She is doing very well now.”
Now studying an MA in producing at the National Film and Television School, Sychelle is currently working on a black lesbian short film.
“Stories that come from an underrepresented group are the sorts of stories I want to tell,” Sychelle says. “I want to use my gift of creating to speak up for those that aren’t able to, to ask the questions that people are scared to ask.”