The Agitators

July 26 – August 7, 2016 • International House Philadelphia

L-R: Lendl Tellington & Rashid Zakat stand in front of portraits of Elissa Blount Moordhead, Tahir Jeter, Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, Sam Pollard, Nijla Mu’min, and Terence Nance, 2012-2016. Photo: Maori Holmes.


When developing a black and white photo negative, the undeveloped film must be submerged into an airtight bath of chemicals and rotated at regularly-timed intervals. This process is called agitation, and it is critical in film development. Merely putting the necessary chemicals in contact with the negative isn’t enough to properly expose the undeveloped film. The solution needs to collide with the negative to be effective. With each collision, it progressively exposes the unseen image. Similarly, our agitators represent an important, but by no means exhaustive, list of people who are putting into collision the craft, technique, and institutions of filmmaking with ongoing conversations about blackness. Over time, these collisions have developed fuller and more complex images of contemporary and historical Black experiences. Our agitators do this by producing work, teaching the craft, cultivating community, and providing resources. The Agitators is a photo exhibit that celebrates five years of BlackStar with 15 portraits of filmmakers, scholars, and cultural workers whose creative work and support have contributed to shaping the festival. They are our friends, mentors, and inspirations.

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Lendl Tellington, Rashid Zakat


Maori Karmael Holmes, Farrah Rahaman