Philadelphia film festival celebrates work of black filmmakers

Arts / Article

From July 30 through Aug. 2, Philadelphia will host the fourth annual BlackStar Film Festival. Presented by Knight Foundation, the festival will be held at a number of venues throughout the city including International House, the Institute of Contemporary Art and World Cafe Live.

Consisting of more than 60 films from four continents, the festival focuses on work by independent filmmakers of African descent. These films examine many facets of the black experience and are made by a talented selection of black filmmakers for an audience that craves a fresh perspective in narrative and documentary cinema.

Muta’Ali Muhammad’s critically acclaimed film, “Life Essentials With Ruby Dee,” will kick off the festival’s prime-time screenings. This 90-minute documentary about the grandson of civil rights activists Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis traces Muhammad’s coming-of-age story, as well as his fear that he might dishonor his grandparents with his contrasting take on their values.

BlackStar highlights this and other films that might otherwise be overlooked by mainstream events. By celebrating the efforts of emerging, established and mid-career directors, writers and producers, and working in a variety of genres including narrative, documentary, experimental and music video productions, BlackStar Film Festival provides an outlet for talented voices that may otherwise not easily be heard.

Photo courtesy of BlackStar Film Festival.

On Aug. 1, there will be workshops and all-youth screenings aimed at advancing the craft of young filmmakers. On Aug. 2, the screenings will conclude with Dream Hampton’s new documentary, “Treasure: From Tragedy to TransJustice, Mapping a Detroit Story.” Here we learn the story of Shelley “Treasure” Hillard, a 19-year-old transgender woman of color from Detroit whose murder was never tried as a hate crime.

The final screening will be followed by a closing awards ceremony at World Cafe Live hosted by entertainer and radio personality Monie Love. There will be prizes for Best Feature, Narrative & Documentary; Best Short, Narrative & Documentary; Best Experimental; Best Music Video; and audience awards. During the ceremony, the Richard Nichols Luminary Award will be given to Hampton in recognition of her contributions to the film and culture of the African Diaspora.

The first events of the BlackStar Film Festival will begin at International House on July 30, around noon. Programming will occur throughout the weekend, so check the BlackStar Film Festival website for the full schedule and more information.