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 and directed the award-winning short films Boneshaker (2013), Afronauts (2014) and Everybody Dies! (2016), which have played at festivals including Sundance, 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 and 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 and 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. Gary earned her MFA in Social Documentary Filmmaking from the School of Visual Arts. 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 worldwide including Edinburgh International Film Festival, Whitney Museum, Anthology Film Archives, Atlanta Film Festival, 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, Jerome Foundation, Doc Society, among others. In 2016 Gary participated in the Terra Foundation Summer Residency program in Giverny. She was a 2018-2019 Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University. Gary is a 2019 Creative Capital Awardee and Field of Vision Fellow.

Jenn Nkiru


Jenn Nkiru is an award-winning visionary artist and director from Peckham. Nkiru is best known for her work as the second unit director for The Carters’s “Apeshit” video (directed by Ricky Saiz). She has also directed music videos for Neneh Cherry and Kamasi Washington. With Washington she is a member of THE UMMAH CHROMA, which also includes Bradford Young, Terence Nance and Marc Thomas. The collective created As Told To G/D Thyself, which premiered at Sundance. Her latest film, BLACK TO TECHNO premiered at Frieze LA in 2019. She is a founding curator of 4:3 Boiler Room alongside Elijah Wood, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Peaches. REBIRTH IS NECESSARY, her award-winning short commissioned by Nowness, most recently won the 2019 Aesthetica Art Prize. Nkiru is one of 75 artists selected for the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2019 Biennial. 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 CalArts. She holds a BA in Creative Arts from San Francisco State University and MFA, UCLA School of Theater Film and Television. Smith is the recipient of the following awards: Rockefeller Media Arts, Creative Capital Film /Video, Independent Spirit Someone to Watch, Chicago 3Arts, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Chicago Expo Artadia, Rauschenberg Residency, Herb Alpert, United States Artists, and was the inaugural recipient of the Ellsworth Kelly Award.


Meg Onli

Assistant Curator, ICA

Meg Onli is a curator and writer whose work attends to the intricacies of race and the production of space. Prior to joining Institute of Contemporary Art she was the Program Coordinator at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. While at the Graham Foundation she worked on the exhibitions Architecture of Independence: African Modernism and Barbara Kasten: Stages. In 2010 she created the website Black Visual Archivefor which she was awarded a 2012 Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. In 2014 she was the recipient of a research grant from the Graham Foundation for the collaborative project Remaking the Black Metropolis: Contemporary Art, Urbanity, and Blackness in America with curator Jamilee Polson Lacy. Onli holds a Master’s degree in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her writing has appeared in Art21, Daily Serving, and Art Papers.


Livestreaming from London

Amirah Tajdin

Filmmaker and Artist

Amirah Tajdin is a Kenyan artist and filmmaker. She graduated from Rhodes University (South Africa) with a Bachelor of Fine Art and Goucher College (USA). She is a Sundance Institute fellow making her the first Kenyan director to be selected for both the Screenwriters Labs (2017) and Director’s Lab (2018) for her feature film currently in development. Her short film Marea di Tierra was in main competition at Sundance (2016) and Cannes Director’s Fortnight (2015) and went on to play over 20 festivals globally. She has also directed various award-winning and nominated short films and feature length documentaries. Currently, she splits her time between Africa and the Middle East balancing freelance commercial directing work as well as independent fiction and documentary and forms the creative half of SEVEN THIRTY Films an Africa-based indie production company, which she founded in Nairobi in 2011 alongside her sister, producer Wafa Tajdin.

Shola Amoo


Shola’s debut feature was multimedia film A Moving Image. It had its World Premiere in competition at The LA Film Festival 2016 and received The Special Recognition Award at The Blackstar Film Festival in Philadelphia. It had its European Premiere at The BFI London Film Festival 2016 and was released theatrically in the UK in 2017 (Verve Pictures). Shola was commissioned by The British Council to direct a reinterpretation of Othello, called Dear Mr. Shakespeare. It was written by visual artist Phoebe Boswell as part of “Shakespeare Lives” and was selected in competition for The Sundance Film Festival 2017. Shola’s latest feature is a drama called The Last Tree which  Premiered at Sundance 2019 in The World Cinema Dramatic competition. The Film was supported by the BFI and Great Point Media and will be released theatrically in the UK through Picturehouse Entertainment on the 20th September 2019.


Tega Okiti

Film Festival Consultant and Creative Producer

Tega Okiti is a Film Festival Consultant and Creative Producer. She is currently working as Programme Assistant at arts agency LUX and Programme Advisor for Sub Saharan Africa at London Film Festival. Tega’s recent curatorial projects include, ‘Unbound: Visions of the Black Feminine’ at BFI Southbank and ‘I Don’t Protest’ the first solo exhibition from award-winning artist-filmmaker and animator Jessica Ashman. As a writer, Tega explores the intersections of race, gender and popular culture on African and diasporic image-making.