The leading celebration of independent black cinema returns to Philly Thursday, August 3 through Sunday, August 6. Now celebrating its sixth anniversary, the @blackstarfest is the only event of its kind in Philadelphia—focusing on cinema of the African Diaspora and global indigenous communities—the four-day weekend festival provides an opportunity for filmmakers, patrons and enthusiasts from all over the world to come together.

This year’s festival honors filmmaker Ava DuVernay with the Richard Nichols Luminary Award at the annual awards ceremony on Saturday, August 5 at World Café Live, featuring music by Pharaohe Monch, Danni Cassette, Cakes da Killa, Jacqueline Constance and DJ Jovi Baby.

The theme of this year’s festival is Resistance, examining political and social uprisings around the world and in the U.S., from the upheaval of the 1960s to the Los Angeles riots in the 1990s to the uprising in Ferguson and the current moment of unrest.

Among the 12 feature films are the world premieres of the drama Ironwood (Dir. Shahin Izadi) and Black & Sexy’s romantic comedy Hello, Cupid (Dir. Dennis Dortch, Numa Perrier, Tina Cerin) as well as the regional premieres of the Haitian magical realist tale Ayiti Mon Amour (Dir. Guetty Felin) and the documentaries Footprints of Pan Africanism (Dir. Shirikiana Aina), Horace Tapscott Musical Griot (Dir. Barbara McCullough), Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities (Dir. Stanley Nelson), Whose Streets (dir. Sabaah Folayan, Damon Davis) and Wilmington 10 (Dir. Haile Gerima).

The festival will also screen more than four dozen short films in the documentary, narrative and experimental categories. Among them are Gabourey Sibide’s The Tale of Four, inspired by Nina Simone’s song “Four Women”; Terence Nance’s dystopian They Charge for the Sun; Carrie Hawke’s documentary about black queer identity black enuf*; and Shola Amoo’s Dear Mr. Shakespeare, a retelling of Othello.


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