Ja’Tovia Gary, USA, 12 min.


The doc is centered around Val-Inc, a Haitian American whose deep connection to her Haitian Heritage and Vodou upbringing greatly influence her innovative genre of music, Afro Electronica.

Dir. Ava Duvernay, USA, 20 min
Narrative (preview)

NOTE: This screening is of an exclusive twenty-minutes excerpt created for the BlackStar Film Festival. Ava DuVernay will be present for a Q&A.

Earning Ava DuVernay the award of Best Director at Sundance 2012, Middle of Nowhere, is about a young woman (Emayatzy Corinealdi) struggles to maintain her marriage and her identity when her husband (Omari Hardwick) must serve a eight year prison sentence.  The cast includes David Oyelowo (Red Tails), Lorraine Toussaint, Sharon Lawrence and Edwina Findley.

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Presented by the Leeway Foundation

Writer, director, producer, and entertainment industry pioneer Ava DuVernay will talk about her work and strategies for creating a voice for African American filmmakers in the mainstream Hollywood industry. She will screen an exclusive 20-minute excerpt from her current film, the critically acclaimed Middle of Nowhere, for which she became the first African American to be awarded the prize for Best Directing at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Ava has quickly become a champion for independent filmmakers, specifically for women and people of color. In 2010, she launched the African-American Film Releasing Movement (AFFRM), a groundbreaking distribution company dedicated to diverse cinematic images, whose mission is to empower black filmmakers through a means of theatrical distribution beyond the studio system and connect their work with eager audiences.

This program is offered free of charge, but registration is required.
Eventbrite - A Conversation with Ava DuVernay

About Ava

Ava DuVernay made her feature directorial debut with the critically acclaimed 2008 hip-hop documentary, This is The Life. Winner of Audience Awards in Toronto, Los Angeles and Seattle, the film was released theatrically and debuted on Showtime in April 2009. The Los Angeles Times raved, This Is the Life vaults into the upper echelons of must-see hip-hop documentaries.” In 2010, she wrote, produced and directed the feature, I Will Follow, starring Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Omari Hardwick, and Beverly Todd. Released theatrically in 2011, the family drama was hailed by critic Roger Ebert as “one of the best films I’ve seen about the loss of a loved one.”

DuVernay directed and produced three network music documentaries in 2010. My Mic Sounds Nice, a definitive history of female hip hop artists, which was BET Networks’ first original music documentary; Essence Music Festival 2010, a two-hour concert film, and Faith Through The Storm, about women who have reclaimed their lives after personal devastation during Hurricane Katrina, both for TV One. Most recently, DuVernay completed principal photography on her second narrative feature, Middle of Nowhere, which will be released in October 2012.

Previously, DuVernay worked in the world of film as a marketer and publicist for more than 14 years, forming DVA Media + Marketing in 1999. Her award-winning firm provided strategy and execution for more than 120 film and television campaigns for acclaimed directors such as Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Michael Mann, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Bill Condon, Raoul Peck and Gurinder Chadha. A UCLA graduate, DuVernay is the founder of AFFRM, the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement and a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. She is based in Los Angeles.

Michelle Serieux, Jamaica, 20 min


A startling reality unfolds for Catherine when she is forced to confront her husband’s Blue Mountain roots. MISSED is a story about human folly and the devastation of unmet expectation.

Michelle Serieux will be present for Q&A after the screening!

Dir. Rodney Lee, USA, 18 min


Trevor wakes up with an unknown woman in unknown surroundings. As he struggles to put the pieces together, we follow him through New York as he finds the match to what ignited his night of haze.

Rodney Lee will be present for Q&A after the screening!


Najma Nuriddin, USA, 25 min


Aasim, a young single Muslim man living in Washington DC has an instant connection with a beautiful poet named Kala. After spending more time with her, Aasim realizes she isn’t Muslim. He is torn by his new discovery of attraction towards Kala and the principles of his own faith.


Najma Nurridin will be present for Q&A after the screening!



Written by Serena Reeder

“The heroes aren’t always pure and the villains aren’t always evil”


This quote opens our film and sets in motion the drama surrounding, AARIF WASHINGTON, our story’s main character, who is on the road to redemption yet darkness lights his way. He and his neighborhood friends form an unstructured vigilante gang that engages in selling drugs and petty crimes. After a member is murdered, the gang finds a temporary remedy to their malaise by avenging his honor through violence. Violence begets more violence and AARIF’S fate is questionable. What choice for his future will he make- good or bad?


During the aftermath of the crack-cocaine era which erupted in the late seventies, substance abuse along with violence and failing socio-economic systems, cast a dubious shadow over the nations’s capital, Washington DC, By the nineties, there was overwhelming momentum to “clean up” the streets, through stringent policing and eminent gentrification. Unfortunately, a full emotional recovery of the city’s African-American generational residents never happened. GENERAL is a high octane urban drama that explores the continuation of conflict that permeates those living in inner cities.


About Serena Reeder


Serena has captivated global audiences time and time again with her authentic performances and undeniable talent.

Graduating from the internationally renowned Juilliard School, a Washington D.C. native, Serena Reeder’s talent was unquestionable. Two months before graduating she booked her first role in a major feature film. Jim Sheridan’s (‘My Left Foot’ and “In America’) directed Serena as Katrina in the 50 Cent biopic, ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin.’ Her character, a drug dealing, fast talking, loving mother earned her outstanding reviews in some of the industry’s most notable publications like USA Today and The Hollywood Reporter. Working alongside Academy Award nominee Terrance Howard (‘Crash’), Serena gained experience on a major set, while creating a name for herself in Hollywood.

There was no doubt that she was destined to stardom as she quickly signed on to the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival favorite ‘The Architect,’ alongside Anthony LaPalgia and Isabella Rosselini. Serena played opposite her mentor, Academy Award nominee, Viola Davis as her privileged and educated daughter, Cammie. The film gained critical acclaim as it explored political, sexual and class issues, pushing the barrier of storytelling.

‘WEAPONS,’ directed by newcomer Adam Bhala Lough, presented a new character challenge. Serena came out on top with her portrayal of Darnelle, a teenage girl with hope and no guidance turning to drugs and prostitution for love, indulged by a circle of friends played by Nick Cannon and Paul Dano.

Her ‘life changing’ role came when she accepted a part in ‘The Bucket List,’ opposite Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The critically-acclaimed Rob Reiner directed the film about two men in the dawn of their lives. These iconic Hollywood artists showed Serena that ‘paying her dues’ and ‘hard work’ is the only way to truly reach success.

Acting is not the only talent Serena possess. She wrote and produced a short film ‘May Fly,’ directed by Petter Ringbom , starring herself and Gustaf Skarsgaard. The film premiered at the Swedish Film Festival and won the audience award for Best Short.

A pioneer in the making, SERENA REEDER has begun to compel her audiences and challenges stereotypes in her young career with the roles that she has chosen to play. An actress and screenwriter, Ms. Reeder has a fabulous energy that exudes grace, confidence and a zest for living.

AfroTaino Productions, Joann Jimenez, in partnership with the BlackStar Film Festival


main selector: DJ Rahsaan (AfroTaino Productions)
special guest: Antonio Ocasio (¡WEPA!/Tribal Winds)

Join in the dance as we rejoice to the sounds of Afrobeat, House Music, Latin Soul, and so much more!
This is the Official Friday Night After Party for the BlackStar Film Festival – accept no substitutes!
Hosted by Joann Jimenez, Marangeli aka Maggie, & The BlackStar Film Festival family
Live Percussion by Xande Cruz
Friday August 3rd
Doors open 9PM
Admission: $5 Festival Attendees/$8 General Public
The Blockley
3801 Chestnut Street

Andrew Dosonmu, USA, 80 min

Presented by AFFRM

The story of a young man surviving on the fringes of New York City where music is his passion, life is a hustle, and falling in love is his greatest risk. Djbirl survives on a series of odd jobs that skirt the edges of legality, including a gig for an African gangster whose underground empire hawks everything from bootleg CDs to prostitutes, one of whom, Trini (Sky Grey), Djbril falls in love with.

Abba Makama, USA/Nigeria, 5 min


The Party of Ministers is a fashion film, written, directed and cut by Abba and styled by Adeniyi; whose pocket squares are the centre piece of this short film. The Party of Ministers meshes art and humor in a tongue in cheek way whilst portraying fashion to you in a avant garde way. The film satire  features a cabal of African corrupt government official dressed to death and swagged out!