Code of Conduct

In order to ensure our guests and participating artists have the best experience possible, the following guidelines have been adopted upon being inspired by Tahir Hemphill who was inspired by Lucianne Walkowicz.

Principles of Engagement


The following are a few basic social rules, adapted from those of the Recurse Center. These rules make explicit certain norms of social behavior that help uphold the values listed above, as well as ethical guidelines we endorse. If you mess up on any of the below, don’t panic: we all make mistakes sometimes. Apologize, reflect, move forward.


Raise all voices


During screenings, panels, pitch sessions, post-screening discussions, and the impromptu conversations that may spark up on the streets, pay attention to who is contributing. Be conscientious of not dominating the conversation. We understand that it can be exciting to discuss brilliant images and ideas, but always strive to listen (rather than just wait your turn to speak).


No feigning surprise


In an environment where participants have different backgrounds and knowledge, it is very important that people feel comfortable saying “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand.” Therefore, please do not act surprised when someone says they don’t know something, whether it is regarding a technical or non-technical subject (e.g. “What?! I can’t believe you don’t know what X is!”).


No well-actually’s


A ‘well-actually’ happens when someone says something that’s almost (but not entirely) correct, and you say, ‘well, actually…’ and then give a minor correction. Well-actually’s interrupt the discussion and fixate on a minor, usually irrelevant point, often solely to make the person delivering the well-actually feel more important. If you feel the need to correct someone, take a moment to consider whether your correction is in the spirit of truth-seeking, and whether it will provide a positive contribution to the discussion.


No -isms


We explicitly ban racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other kinds of bias— whether these behaviors are overt or subtle. Subtle -isms can be particularly tricky, as they are often unconscious behaviors we engage in by mistake, and are sometimes caused by conflicting norms between cultures.


If you experience any of these behaviors during the course of the festival, you should feel free to bring it up directly with the person, or if it’s more comfortable, point out the behavior to our Hospitality & Logistics Team (jawn@blackstarfest.org) or by visiting our onsite office at Lightbox Film Center on the 2nd Floor.

If someone points out that you have engaged in this behavior, it can be tempting to become defensive—but instead, we ask that you apologize, reflect a moment, and move on. If you do not understand why issue was taken with your behavior, we will be happy to discuss it with you, so that everyone can learn from the experience.


Thanks for reading! We look forward to seeing you and celebrating the work of global filmmakers of color!