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From beneath we look up at the image of Martine Syms pressing an apartment call button and apparently yelling. They have bright green braids and above them is a blue ceiling.
Martine Syms. Photo by Elliot Jerome Brown Jr.
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BlackStar Projects Launches Fourth Issue of Seen

Latest issue of journal focusing on BIPOC film, art, and visual culture is first with Dessane Lopez Cassell as Editor-in-Chief

Los Angeles event on June 23 to feature screening and conversation with Guest Editor Darol Olu Kae and filmmakers

BlackStar Projects—producer of the BlackStar Film Festival—is proud to announce the launch of the fourth issue of Seen, its twice-annual journal of film and visual culture made for and about Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities globally.

Seen 004 is available for order here, and the print and digital editions will be officially released on June 23. Guest-edited by artist Darol Olu Kae, the issue includes essays, reviews, interviews, original art and photography, and more.

“With this fourth issue, we seek to extend Seen’s ongoing exploration of what it means to see and bear witness for Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities globally,” writes Kae in his introduction to the issue. “Each piece in this issue explores the complexities of vision and visual culture in an ever-shifting world, from Jasmine Weber’s discerning feature on the groundbreaking architect Amaza Lee Meredith, to Jenzia Burgos’s incisive interrogation of music videos by the emerging Dominican rapper Tokischa, to Yume Murphy’s expansive profile of acclaimed artist Martine Syms, which centers her debut narrative feature film, The African Desperate (2022).”

Highlights from Seen 004 include Yume Murphy’s profile of acclaimed artist Martine Syms; a tribute to the late critic Greg Tate, from Jeff Chang, Elizabeth Méndez-Berry, and Deborah Thomas; Zeba Blay on Issa Rae’s Insecure; Sky Hopinka on process and memory in Kicking the Clouds; a profile of multimedia artist Dindga McCannon by Zoé Samudzi; dream hampton interviewed by Beandrea July; a behind the scenes look at Apichatpong Weerasethekul’s Memoria, and more.

To celebrate the launch of the new issue, Seen will present a free screening and conversation on the nuances of color and craft through the lenses of Black creators at 2220 Arts + Archives in Los Angeles on June 23rd. Featuring films by Rikkí Wright, Darol Olu Kae, and Kya Lou, the event will include a post-screening conversation with all three filmmakers discussing their work. Refreshments will be served, and copies of Seen 004 will be available for purchase. More information on the launch event may be accessed here

This issue of Seen also marks the first edition with Dessane Lopez Cassell in the role of Editor-in-Chief. Cassell, who guest-edited issue 002, has been a longtime BlackStar Film Festival program committee member, last serving on the experimental committee in 2022. Most recently, she worked as the reviews editor at Hyperallergic

“With Seen 004, we look forward to expanding the journal’s vision and reach. The LA launch event on the 23rd marks a growing commitment to connecting with new audiences and championing artists and cultural critics of color across the globe and beyond our home in Philadelphia,” Cassell noted. 

The full list of Seen 004 contributors includes Alia Swastika, Beandrea July, Bedatri D. Choudhury, Camae Ayewa, Darol Olu Kae, Deborah A. Thomas, Elizabeth Méndez-Berry, Jasmine Weber, Jeff Chang, Jenzia Burgos, Mahasen Nasser-Eldin, Poulomi Das, Sky Hopinka, Yume Murphy, Zeba Blay, and Zoé Samudzi. 

The issue’s cover features a photograph of filmmaker Martine Syms by Elliott Jerome Brown Jr. 

In addition to Kae and Cassell, the editorial staff includes: Caroline Washington⁠⁠, Art Director; Nehad Khader⁠⁠, Managing Editor⁠⁠; Leo Brooks⁠⁠, Design Manager; Imran Siddiquee, Chief Communications Officer; Jasmine Weber⁠⁠, Reviews and Features Editor⁠⁠; Kavita Rajanna⁠⁠, Essays Editor⁠⁠; Yasmine Espert⁠⁠, Interviews & Profiles Editor⁠⁠; Shauna Swartz⁠⁠, Copyeditor⁠⁠⁠⁠; Sydney Alicia Rodriguez, Program Associate; Ashley Ijoema Omoma, Program Coordinator; Chili Shi, Editorial & Design Intern, and Maori Karmael Holmes, Founding Editor.⁠⁠

Seen’s Editorial Advisory Board consists of Jeff Chang, Akiba Solomon, John L. Jackson, Jr., Louis Massiah, Adam Piron, Roya Rastegar, Sally Singer, Elizabeth Méndez Berry, Tarana Burke, Greg Tate (In Memoriam), Gina Duncan, and Zaheer Ali.

Seen may be purchased via local, international, and online outlets, including: BYE BYE NEIGHBOR, Forin Cafe, Hammer Museum, Harriett’s Bookshop, magCulture, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, McNally Jackson, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Printworks, Reparations Club, The Sable Collective, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Tomorrow Today, Ulises, Uncle Bobbie’s, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and YOWIE. 

To purchase a copy, visit for more information.

Among BlackStar Projects’ continuing initiatives are the BlackStar Film Festival, celebrating its eleventh edition this summer from August 3 – 7 with a lineup of seventy-six films from across the globe; the William and Louise Greaves Filmmaker Seminar; and Many Lumens with Maori Karmael Holmes—BlackStar’s signature podcast, which finds BlackStar founder Holmes in dialogue with the most groundbreaking artists, changemakers, and cultural workers of today. The organization also celebrated the beginning of this decade of expansion with the opening of a new headquarters this spring.

For more information on Seen, the BlackStar Film Festival, and other BlackStar programs, visit

About BlackStar Projects

BlackStar Projects is the producer of the BlackStar Film Festival, an annual celebration of the visual and storytelling traditions of the African diaspora and global communities of color — showcasing films by Black, Brown, and Indigenous people from around the world. In addition to the acclaimed festival, BlackStar presents an array of programming across film and visual culture year-round, including the twice-annual journal Seen, the podcast Many Lumens, the William and Louise Greaves Filmmaker Seminar, and the Philadelphia Filmmaker Lab, among other initiatives. 

Press Contacts

Ed Winstead

Senior Director, Cultural Counsel

[email protected]

Sam Riehl

Senior Account Executive, Cultural Counsel 

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Emma Frohardt

Senior Account Coordinator, Cultural Counsel

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Seen is BlackStar’s journal of film and visual culture, published twice each calendar year. Issue 006 is now available.

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