Knight Arts Challenge Grant

April 30, 2013

PRESS RELEASE | April 30, 2013
Press Contacts: Lauren Holland,
Andrew Sherry, 305-908-2677,

BlackStar Film Festival is slated to receive a $25,000 matching grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, bolstering its ability to achieve the festival’s mission of celebrating the visual and storytelling traditions of the African diaspora by showcasing independent film and video works that illuminate the black experience across the globe.

The Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge funds innovative projects that engage and enrich Philadelphia’s communities. BlackStar is one of 43, 2013 grantees receiving this grant that supports transformational work with a focus on new approaches and spaces that foster community engagement.

“These resources will allow us to expand the festival’s offerings of cutting-edge master classes, workshops, panels and screenings by artists from around the globe that are not typically offered in our region,” said Maori Holmes, festival founder and artistic director. “We expect several outstanding filmmakers and industry professionals to attend the festival and engage with attendees.”

Knight Foundation joins PECO, An Exelon Company, and The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation in its support of BlackStar.

“Few things bring people together like the arts, to form the collective experiences that both inspire and build great communities. We’re excited by the film festival’s expansion that we hope will engage new audiences in films of the African diaspora,” said Dennis Scholl, VP/Arts for Knight Foundation.

Sure to engage a cross-section of film lovers who are diverse in age and background, the following events are planned for the second annual festival:

  • A short screenplay contest in which emerging writers can compete for a chance to have their work read during the festival and be juried by a panel of industry professionals. The winning screenplay will be awarded a cash prize towards producing the short film.
  • A youth media screening featuring the work of local youth filmmakers ages 13-18.
  • A family screening for children (ages 0-12 years old and under) featuring short films and animation targeted toward children of color.
  • A critical issues symposium featuring leading scholars and filmmakers in conversation about black aesthetics related to filmmaking
  • A special concert featuring international musicians

About BlackStar Film Festival

The BlackStar Film Festival (BlackStar), deemed “the black Sundance” by Ebony Magazine, is a highly visible platform for independent black filmmakers and films about black people from around the world, providing genre-defying and beautifully crafted works to a diverse audience thirsty for fresh perspectives. The only event of its kind in Philadelphia—focusing on cinema of the African Diaspora—the four-day festival provides an opportunity for filmmakers, patrons, and enthusiasts from all over the world to come together. Our first festival was attended by over 1,500 and featured the work of 40 filmmakers from 4 continents for more information visit

About the Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities, and foster the arts. The Foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more information, visit