Writer, innovator, film enthusiast, thinker, do-it-yourselfer, down right weirdo – Kweighbaye Kotee – Founder of the Bushwick Film Festival
Born on the countryside of West Africa; Kweighbaye Kotee came to the United States in 1986 after she and her family were granted political asylum from the U.S government due to the civil war in Liberia. In 1996, she applied for and was fortunate to receive a full scholarship from the Wight Foundation to Blair Academy, a private preparatory boarding school in Blairstown, NJ. It was at Blair that she continued studying passions such as the violin and art history, It was here that she was also exposed to all new ideas, music, film, and where Kweighbaye ultimately developed her, often referred to, awkward & eccentric personality.
During her time at NYU as a Mass Media and Communications major, she discovered video art, photography, and writing electives and eventually decided that she wanted to dedicate her time to writing and film. Some of Kweighbaye’s life goals include writing fiction, screenplays, stage plays, directing films, and eventually relocating to France. For now, this 26 year old is focusing on the difficult task of turning her ideas into reality and surrounding herself by motivated and creative people; specifically artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers.
To Kweighbaye, filmmaking is a fascinating and significant art form. Starting the film festival was a way to celebrate the art of filmmaking and provide a platform for independent filmmakers to present their work. Often, people ask her, why choose Bushwick out of all NYC neighborhoods. Default? Sort of. She moved there in 2007 and saw how new, interesting, and thriving the neighborhood was. It was an artist’s utopia. With that in mind, she approached a few close NYU girlfriends and pitched the idea to them. To her surprise and relief, they were thrilled and committed! Either that or really motivated by her promise of free beer at all meetings. Thus, the Bushwick Film Festival was started by Kweighbaye Kotee, Isabelle Steuble Johnson (actor, director, and dancer), Anne Kyle (painter & stylist), Liane Steigmar (PR), and co-founder Laree Ross (graphic designer). In a nutshell, as their first blip in 2007 states, The Bushwick Film Festival was started by an assemblage of artists, innovators, enthusiasts, whackos, thinkers, do-it-your selfers, and down right weirdos.