BlackStar Film Festival – The 2020 Philly Film Fest for global communities of color goes virtual

Starting with an on-line talk show and ending with a DJ-poet Rich Medina after party (which is how I want my funeral to ring forth, with Medina), the annual BlackStar Film Festival. Philly’s 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, August 20 to August 26.

Right Near the Beach
“Right Near the Beach” – Nominated for Best Feature Narrative.

Only this year, the 2020 iteration of Blackstar Artistic Director and CEO Maori Karmael Holmes – recently 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. (Holmes was also recently honored by the Asian Arts Initiative this spring for her service in the Philadelphia cultural sector).

“We are an artist-centered festival and have been since day one,” Holmes told me last year 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.”

Maori Karmael Holmes
Blackstar Artistic Director and CEO Maori Karmael Holmes.

Founded in 2012, this ninth iteration of the BlackStar Film Festival features 90 plus films from nearly two dozen countries, along with the newest addition – each morning’s BlackStar Live! Talk show at 9:15 AM. Rather than hold screenings at unusual or off-the-beaten path venues across Philly, there is a long line of digital filmic events, lectures, Zoom panel discussions, and parties. Look hard and you’ll find that Holmes’ BlackStar even booked a handsome handful of drive-in screenings, several of which I mentioned in my drive-in concert piece

For all info – including those parties with Jazzy Jeff and Rich Medina, go here. And quick. Those drive-in events may just be sold out sooner than later.


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