Aug. 3



The Global Black Aesthetic: The No Direct Flight Global Meet Up

In Partnership with British Film Institute

As part of a special international project called No Direct Flight, BlackStar will be live linking with filmmakers and audience at the British Film Institute (BFI) Southbank in London to discuss the possibility of a global black aesthetic. No Direct Flight is an international project partnering BlackStar, BFI and the British Film Council to look at the effects of 30 years of the internet on African diaspora filmmaking practices. The internet has become an alternative archive and created the possibility for a lineage of aesthetics to be shared between filmmakers globally. Selected filmmakers in London and Philadelphia will discuss the way the internet has allowed them to virally trade motifs across the world giving rise to a bold, black, globally influential aesthetic. We’ll investigate how the internet allows new languages to develop across a global filmmaking community, and seek to find out if there’s a lineage of diaspora aesthetics. This session will also explore how the internet has aided or hindered working practices and where filmmakers find themselves located in a hyper-connected world. Next year a special No Direct Flight program will land at BlackStar.

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Nuotama Bodomo


Nuotama Bodomo (b. Accra, Ghana) wrote & directed the award-winning short films Boneshaker (2013) and Afronauts (2014) and Everybody Dies! (2016), which have played at festivals including Sundance, the Berlinale, Telluride, Rotterdam, SXSW, and New Directors/New Films. Afronauts was exhibited at the Whitney Museum as part of Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905-2016, at the Barbican Centre as part of Into The Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction, and at the 2018 Venice Biennale Architecture (US Pavilion) as part of Dimensions of Citizenship. Nuotama served as staff writer & director on the Peabody Award-winning first season of Random Acts of Flyness(HBO). She is a core member of the New Negress Film Society & is currently creating the Afronauts feature film.

Ja’Tovia Gary


Ja’Tovia M. Gary (b. Dallas, TX. 1984) is an artist and filmmaker currently living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Gary’s work seeks to liberate the distorted histories through which Black life is often viewed while fleshing out a nuanced and multivalent Black interiority. Through documentary film and experimental video art, Gary charts the ways structures of power shape our perceptions around representation, race, gender, sexuality, and violence. The artist earned her MFA in Social Documentary Filmmaking from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 2017 Gary was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Filmmaking. Her award-winning films, An Ecstatic Experience and Giverny I (Négresse Impériale) have screened at festivals, cinemas, and institutions worldwide including Edinburgh International Film Festival, The Whitney Museum, Anthology Film Archives, Atlanta Film Festival, the Schomburg Center, MoMa PS1, MoCA Los Angeles, Harvard Film Archives, New Orleans Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival and elsewhere. She has received generous support from Sundance Documentary fund, the Jerome Foundation, Doc Society, among others. In 2016 Gary participated in the Terra Foundation Summer Residency program in Giverny, France. She was a 2018-2019 Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University. Gary is a 2019 Creative Capital Awardee and a Field of Vision Fellow.

Jenn Nkiru


Jenn Nkiru is an award-winning visionary artist and director from Peckham, London. Named by Okayafrica as one of 100 African women using their power, influence, creativity and business acumen to to move culture forward, a creative icon and one of the 200 women redefining the creative industries in 2018 and 2019 by The Dots, one of the 100 global Creative Superheroes shaping culture by Utopia in 2018 and 2019, she is one of the worlds most exciting rising directors. She has steadily been creating a name for herself with her distinctive visual style and powerful use of sound through her short films for the BFI, Frieze, Gucci, Condé Nast, Channel 4 and the Tate. The relationship between visual, sound, and music, as well as movement and tone, are central concerns of her work. Pushed through an afro surrealist lens, her works are grounded in the history of black music, the aesthetics of experimental film, international art cinema, the black arts movement and the rich and variegated tradition of cinemas of the black diaspora and their distinct experimentation with the politics of form. Nkiru is best known in popular culture for her work as the second unit director of visuals for The Carter’s “Apeshit” video (directed by Ricky Saiz) and has also directed music videos for Neneh Cherry and Kamasi Washington the latter of whom she is in the collective THE UMMAH CHROMA alongside Bradford Young, Terence Nance and Marc Thomas. The collective created the 2019 short As Told To G/D Thyself, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Her latest film, BLACK TO TECHNO which premiered at Frieze LA Feb 2019, explores the philosophical, geopolitical, sonic and anthropological origins of Techno. Last year, Nkiru extended her practice as an artist and filmmaker to curation. As a founding curator of 4:3 Boiler Room alongside Elijah Wood, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Peaches, she spearheaded a season entitled AFROFREQUENCY: a series of screenings, archive, photography, audios and talks for 4:3, which included an intimate conversation with Janelle Monáe, exploring ideas of identity, womanhood, art, music and blackness. Her dreamlike, cinematic short titled REBIRTH IS NECESSARY, commissioned by Nowness, is ‘a personal powerful exploration of blackness’ and is the winner of the 2018 Canal+ Award at the Clermont Ferrand Film Festival, Best Documentary film at the London Independent Film Festival, Voice of a Woman award at Cannes and the Butterfly award at the Mostra International Film Festival. It was a nominee of the 2018 best short film award at Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival and Blackstar Film Festival. The film was also a 2018 shortlist of the lauded Grierson Award in Documentary filmmaking and most recently won the 2019 Aesthetica Art Prize. In March 2019, it travelled to Sao Paulo where it was exhibited at the MASP and marks her first solo exhibition. Nkiru is one of 75 artists selected for the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2019 Whitney Biennial by curators Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley. Nkiru is represented commercially by Iconoclast worldwide.

Cauleen Smith

Interdisciplinary Artist

Cauleen Smith is an interdisciplinary artist whose work reflects upon the everyday possibilities of the imagination. Operating in multiple materials and arenas, Smith roots her work firmly within the discourse of mid-twentieth-century experimental film. Drawing from structuralism, third world cinema, and science fiction, she makes things that deploy the tactics of activism in service of ecstatic social space and contemplation. She lives in Los Angeles and is Art Program faculty at California Institute of the Arts. She holds a BA in Creative Arts from San Francisco State University and MFA, University of California, Los Angeles School of Theater Film and Television. Smith is the recipient of the following awards: Rockefeller Media Arts Award, Creative Capital Film /Video, Independent Spirit Someone to Watch Award, Chicago 3Arts Grant, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Chicago Expo Artadia Award, and Rauschenberg Residency, Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts in Film and Video 2016, United States Artists Award 2017, and was the 2016 inaugural recipient of the Ellsworth Kelly Award.