Aug. 1

12:00 PM
Mitchell Auditorium

Pitch Session

As a maker-centered festival, BlackStar has been always been a space where connections are forged during the 4 days of sharing works, concepts, advice and the occasional tea.

Join us for our inaugural pitch session where a selection of filmmakers of color will propose their works-in-progress to an illustrious panel of funders, distributors and producers. Get the behind the scenes look at what it takes to develop a documentary film and listen into how leading decision makers evaluate projects. 

8 filmmakers will pitch their doc projects to a panel of representatives from highly influential foundations, distribution platforms and production houses, with the added bonus of a $1000 first place cash prize. Each filmmaker will be given 7 minutes to present followed by 8 minutes of constructive feedback. 

This event is sponsored in part by WORLD Channel. Please note that this event is intended for pass holders only. 

Panelists include: 

  • Jamila Farwell, Netflix
  • Chris Hastings, WORLD Channel
  • Loira Limbal, Firelight Media
  • Lauren Pabst, MacArthur Foundation
  • Sara Rodriguez, HBO
  • Jeff Seelbach, Topic
  • Merrill Sterritt, Cinereach
  • Nicole Tsien, AmDoc/POV
  • Chi-hui Yang, JustFilms/Ford Foundation

Host: Rakia Reynolds, Skai Blue Media

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Selected Projects

Armenina: This Too

Director: Artina Nimpson

Armenina: This Too follows young West African men developing a surf culture in post-war Liberia. In a country marred by high rates of death by drowning, we explore these characters’ decisions to enter the water and the opportunities they are creating with surfing for the next generation of Liberians.

Ave Maria

Director: Tristan Seyek

A Puerto Rican celebrity chef cooks to save the spirit of his homeland in the wake Hurricane Maria, a catastrophic breaking point for the entanglement of complex issues that have agonized Puerto Rico since its colonial existence.

Black Zombie

Director: Maya Annik Bedward

Black Zombie is a feature documentary about slavery, resistance and the living dead.

The Department of Space and Land Reclamation

Directors: Darren Wallace, Shani Akilah, and Domonique London

At risk of displacement, a cohort of neighbors, artists, and organizers embody “community control of land” through a series of transgressive and transformative interventions, installations and direct actions.

A Good Man

Director: Michael Fequiere

A Good Man is an investigative film that documents Michael’s journey to discover his biological father. Filmed in a variety of styles, it offers a fresh look at fatherhood, parenting and family.

Higher 15

Director: Ameha Molla

An unlawfully imprisoned Ethiopian man escapes from jail and flees to the United States, only to have a chance encounter with his vicious prison guard decades later.

Murders That Matter

Director: Marco Williams

Murders that Matter documents an African American, Muslim, mother who doggedly attempts to stem the gun violence in Philadelphia’s African American communities.

Traces of Home

Director: Colette Ghunim

Is it possible that some of those who immigrate never wanted to leave their countries in the first place? Traces of Home is a 56 minute film documenting the harrowing pasts of biracial filmmaker Colette Ghunim’s parents, immigrants from Palestine and Mexico, respectively. Forced to escape decades ago, they embark on a journey to find their original houses, discovering what home means along the way.