Still from In Case of Emergency, the opening night film at the 2017 Bushwick Film Festival. L-R: Stefanie Sparks (as Sarah), Jenni Ruiza (as Melinda) and Phoebe Robinson (as Charlene).

October 12th was the 10th Annual Bushwick Film Festival‘s opening night, which showcased the film “In Case of Emergency,” directed and written by Stefanie Sparks. Sparks has been working in film for half her life; In Case of Emergency is her second feature film.

Entering the film festival was a bit daunting for me—I don’t usually attend these types of events. To celebrate the opening night, there was a red carpet reception at the well known House of Yes (2 Wyckoff Ave). Photographers, journalists, and other press and filmmakers were in attendance and mingling amidst bright flashing lights. I was mostly looking forward to the film screening and hadn’t thought about networking, but was approached by a director/producer and a couple of artists. It was a pleasant surprise but also appreciated. Once I entered the theater, I was taken aback by the grandiose scene. The night started off with an emcee and an interview with the founder and CEO of Bushwick Film Festival, Kweighbaye Kotee. She’s an 11-year resident of Bushwick with a passion for independent films.

“Stories are the best way to bring people together,” Kweighbaye says. Her hope with BFF is to inspire women; in particular, women of color. She chose Stefanie Sparks’ film In Case of Emergency to kick off the opening night and the festival itself. “What I’m looking for is diversity on and off camera. An extra bonus with this film is that it was local,” Kotee says.

In Case of Emergency is a feminist female comedy—one which I greatly enjoyed. It was one of the first films I’ve seen where the women were not only the leads but also the protagonists and the comedians. It can be rare to find women as the source of comedy as well as the main lead, and women of color as those comedians and leads. It was hysterical, hilarious, and well received—I burst into bouts of laughter more than I thought I would that night. I appreciated the dry humor and the narrative centering around women in their twenties coping with adult-ing, forming relationships and friendships while learning in the process—mostly because I felt that many people can relate.


The two leads, Sarah (Stefanie Sparks) and Melinda (Jenni Ruiza) are office coworkers from two different worlds who become unlikely friends. I loved the diversity of the cast as well as the character development within the story amidst all the comedy. Sarah is a very high maintenance character that has a specific idea of what her life should look like—she wants to marry a rich guy and have their children attend elite schools. Her quoted motto is “Pearls, Pumps, and Pink.” She quickly learns that life is unpredictable—you never know how your life is going to end up, or with who. So while she may have her own ideas about her life’s direction, fate has other plans. Melinda is Sarah’s opposite—she does stand up comedy outside of work and cares little for status, high end material things, or rearing children for prep school. After a tragic event, Sarah finds she can no longer have children and her dreams are crushed. As soon as a friend’s baby shower is set up, Sarah’s life starts to change for the better, and she realizes what really matters—that being genuine is more important than status or appearances.

Sarah loses her former “friends,” and that’s when the unlikely duo start teaming up and take away lessons from what the other has learned. Melinda snags her dream boy at the office with a little help from Sarah, while Sarah confronts the reality of her life and how to set things right by setting her sights on helping others using her gifts and intelligence.

In Case of Emergency was well-written, extremely funny, relatable, and expresses the importance of being real and true to oneself. Jenni Ruiza said it best: “This story is essentially the story of our lives, and how we can celebrate each other.”

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