For one week, 80 plus films from 27 countries around the world with 14 panels, several in-person events, massive outdoor parties, and a first day with several world-premieres all involving People of Color… That’s the 10th annual BlackStar Film Festival for you.
Running from August 4, and starting with a 6 pm live stream conversation between Philly’s Dyana Williams and director and curator Sacha Jenkins of Bitchin’: the Sound and Fury of Rick James fame (which screens at the festival later in the week) and an 8 pm party in Bartram’s Gardens with DJ lil Dave and friends, the BlackStar Film Fest hits the ground, hardcore, from its first seconds, and doesn’t stop until long past its last night.
Long a celebration of the visual and storytelling traditions of the African diaspora and of global communities of color, showcasing films by Black, Brown and Indigenous people, unspools, Blackstar Artistic Director and CEO Maori Karmael Holmes – in 2020, also appointed Curator-at-Large for Film at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and Mediamaker-in-Residence at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania – has turned her always-sociable fest into a predominantly virtual, streaming event.
“We are an artist-centered festival and have been since day one,” Holmes told me in 2019 of BlackStar’s intersectional, social justice lens combined with a critical and rigorous aesthetic. “I think that is the value for (underrepresented) filmmakers who return to us each year.”
Certainly, BlackStar’s 2021 calendar has, at as its centerpiece, a live at the Mann (August 8) world premiere of the new Eyes on the Prize: Hallowed Ground documentary (following up and based on the 14 episode PBS civil rights classic) before it heads to HBO Max. Beyond that major get, there are locally inspired flicks such as the short form Dear Philadelphia about three North Philly fathers living life in strife, as well as the narrative-driven The Inheritance which features Powelton Village’s MOVE movement as a crucial part of its story.
Check www.blackstarfest.org for times and dates.