The BlackStar Film Festival will kick-off its annual celebration highlighting over 70 feature films, short stories and music videos from emerging and established talent.
This four-day screening begins Aug. 1, with an evening premiere of two feature films, aimed at giving a voice to African-American males.
“Questions Bridge: Black Males” is an innovative media project that facilitates discussion between Black men from diverse backgrounds.
“Man: The Legacy of Air Smooth – Reflections on the Life of Dr. Shawn L. White,” is a personal documentary-memoir, produced by fashion designer Nicole Fisher. The documentary pays tribute to the life and accomplishments of White, who passed away at age 41 from coronary artery disease.
The City of Brotherly Love is the perfect backdrop to bring together such a diverse mix of talent at a festival focused on work by and about writers and producers of African descent. The works included in the festival represent four continents fusing social, cultural and thought-provoking themes.
“I have worked in independent film, as a costume designer, but never as a producer. It feels strange even aligning myself to the producer title,” Fisher said. “The idea to create this documentary project came to me soon after Shawn’s death. I found myself awake in the middle of the night reflecting on Shawn’s life and unwavering tenacity in reaching his goals.
“He did not do all of this for nothing,” she added. “I began thinking of ways to keep his vision alive, as well as make sure his sons never forget him.”
Fisher proposed the idea to friends, who immediately served as the production team. “Within a few months the film came together seamlessly,” she said.
Black identity is not small or narrow, according to festival founder and artistic director Maori Karmael Holmes.
“Yet often, when we watch movies created by the major studios we see the same stories repeated,” she said. “Our hope is that BlackStar disrupts stereotypes and creates a visual conversation about the diversity of blackness that carries on long after the credits roll.
“Too many filmmakers spend countless hours and thousands of dollars to create brilliant films that never get seen,” she added. “BlackStar is part of a burgeoning independent infrastructure that connects underrepresented artists of color with their kindred audiences and opportunities for greater exposure.”
This year’s festival will launch a screenplay competition, audience awards component as well as a special honor for the Howard University Film Program.
Director Haile Gerim, who has influenced young filmmakers for over twenty-five years, will be honored for his work. In addition, attendees will be able to participate in panel discussions, concerts and receptions.
The BlackStar Film Festival is a celebration of cinema in a global context. BlackStar highlights films that are often overlooked from emerging, established, and mid-career directors, writers and producers working in narrative, documentary, experimental and music video filmmaking.
The festival will primarily take place at International House of Philadelphia located at 3701 Chestnut St.
Additional screenings will occur at Drexel University and The Barnes Foundation. For a complete festival schedule, visit blackstarfest.org.