Community Affairs reporter Cherri Gregg | July 7, 2013
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The BlackStar Film Festival showcases the work of independent filmmakers that tell the story of Black people around the world. It will feature 74 films at its second annual event here in Philadelphia.
Nicknamed the “Black Sundance” by Ebony magazine, the BlackStar Film festival will celebrate the visual story telling traditions of people of African descent.
Films range from those like “Mother of George” about the life of South African immigrants living in New York or “Question Bridge” which includes interviews with Black men from across the country about race and life.
“A lot of these stories, many of them, won’t be seen on the big screen,” says Founder Maori Karmel Holmes. “Because of the economics of the film industry, we end up watching a lot of stuff on Netflix, on our computers, or on our phones. This film festival offers an opportunity to see these films on the big screen in community with other people.”
The BlackStar Film Festival is presented by the Knight Foundation and will run August 1st through 4th at various venues across the city.
Food traditions are hard to change, especially when they’re passed on from generation to generation. In this PBS documentary, award-winning filmmaker Byron Hurt shares his journey to learn more about the African American cuisine known as soul food. Through candid interviews with soul food cooks, historians, and scholars, as well as doctors, family members, and everyday people, Soul Food Junkies blends history, humor, and heartwarming stories to place this culinary tradition under the microscope.
Byron Hurt will be present for Q&A after the screening!
Deborah A. Thomas & John L. Jackson, Jr., Jamaica/USA, 63 min Documentary
For many around the world, Jamaica conjures up images of pristine beach vacations with a pulsating reggae soundtrack. The country, however, also has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world, and the population is actively grappling with legacies of Western imperialism, racial slavery, and political nationalism – the historical foundations of contemporary violence in Jamaica and throughout the Americas. BAD FRIDAY focuses on a community of Rastafarians in western Jamaica who annually commemorate the 1963 Coral Gardens “incident,” a moment just after independence when the Jamaican government rounded up, jailed and tortured hundreds of Rastafarians. It chronicles the history of violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its most iconic community, and shows how people use their recollections of past traumas to imagine new possibilities for a collective future. Format: A feature-length documentary (running time 63 minutes) shot in DV, mini-DV and HD that also includes archival footage, reproductions of still photographs, and an original score composed by Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn. BAD FRIDAY is in English and Jamaican patois, with English subtitles. Style: The film is shot mostly in an observational and ethnographic style, with hand-held shots of Rastafarians giving us the history of the movement, explaining the events leading up to the Coral Gardens “incident,” and offering testimonials about their own experiences of violence at the hands of the Jamaican state as a result of that incident. The film concludes with a discussion of reparations, both broadly (for those who were trafficked as a result of the trans-Atlantic slave trade) and specifically (for those Rastafarians who suffered at the hands of the Jamaican security forces in 1963). BAD FRIDAY is not dominated by experts and talking heads, as the subjects speak for themselves. The film was shot on location in Jamaica, and the original score features modern renderings of the traditional musical forms that comprise the roots of reggae music (the soundtrack is also available).
John Jackson will be present for Q&A after the screening!
Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 focuses on Audre Lorde’s relation to the German Black Diaspora, her literary as well as political influence, and is a unique visual document about the times the author spent in Germany. The film is also for coming generations a valuable historical document of German history, which tells about the development of an Afro-German movement and the origins of the anti-racist movement before and after the German reunification.
Dir. Sonia Godding Togobo & Andrew Togobo, UK, 7 min Experimental
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
Dreamcatacher is a poetical narrative that creatively depicts Nicholas Hope’s journey to realizing a life long dream. Hope’s life is going nowhere. He is in a mundane job and hates every day he has to go to work. When Nicholas is thrown into his past, he remembers the dream he once had to play football. He decides to take drastic action, and go after the Dream that nearly got away.
Roman is flown in to do a job, maybe his last. It is the evening before Jasper’s financial wrong doings become public and Jasper’s co- conspirators are unsure if Jasper will talk or take the fall. What should be a straightforward pick up and drop off for Roman is not, it seems Jasper wants to make one last stop along the way.
Bumming Cigarettes is a short film about a brief and intimate meeting between a young Black lesbian woman who is in the process of taking an HIV test and a middle aged Black Gay HIV Positive man. Coming off of the devastation of a bad breakup with a girlfriend, Vee musters up the courage to go and take an HIV test to put her worst fears to rest.