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'Father's Day?' Film Addresses Issues of Fatherless Homes

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Actresses Ashley Shante and Squeaky Moore are hoping their new film "Father's Day?" will encourage discussion about what they call "the elephant in the room," namely the absence of black fathers from an alarming number of African-American homes.

"No one is mentioning the elephant," Moore, coproducer of the film, told The Huffington Post. "We want to hit them with a story to understand the emotional impact."

The short film was produced by Dear Diary Productions, a film production company Shante founded, whose objective is to raise awareness about the impact of fatherlessness on the black community.

Various reports have been published about the percentage of black babies born to unmarried mothers, with percentages varying from the high 60s to low 70s. According to a study of childbearing among unmarried mothers by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 72 percent of black babies were born to unwed mothers in 2010.

The statistics have fueled further discussion about the context of the figures and the overall numbers of black women, both married and unmarried, who are having children.

Moore said she feels the statistical debate is a distraction from the real problem. Although the movie's trailer highlights the numbers, both women say they want to focus more on the emotional results of growing up without a father.

"I think the problem is the argument over the accuracy of the number," Shante explained. "People tend to focus on that more than the issue itself.

"It's not about women vs. the number," Shante said. "What's most important is the emotional issues that we're not looking at. Why are [black women] deciding not to have children? I think we're missing the point, and that is that most of these issues are stemming from the bigger problem, which is fatherlessness."

Both actresses grew up in fatherless homes, although under different circumstances. Shante's father was absent, while Moore's father was killed by a drunk driver when she was 13 years old. Each of them faced trials in their adult lives as a result, ranging from their behavior in romantic relationships to being embarrassment of having siblings by different fathers.

In order to move forward as a community, Shante said that both men and women must be held accountable for their actions and future generations need to try to break the cycle.

The film, scheduled for release in March 2012, features the acting talents of Justin A. Davis of "Boardwalk Empire" and award-winning actress and director Rosalyn Coleman. Shante and Moore plan to submit the movie to the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival and others, with hopes of eventually pushing it into theaters.

"I wanna see this topic become popular," said Shante. "I want it to be popular, to where it's on TV, to where it's talked about so much that it puts shame on anyone who isn't acting accordingly."

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