The Black Star Film Festival
Junious Ricardo Stanton
If you enjoy motion pictures focusing on the African Diaspora experience told from an African perspective, I encourage you to attend the 2012 Black Star Film Festival August 2-5. This festival will use three venues: the African-American History Museum, the International House and Art Sanctuary. The ticket prices are very affordable and you will enjoy the venues and the presentations.
This is the first year for the Black Star Film Festival. It is the brainchild of and is being produced by Maori Karmeal Holmes a local filmmaker and curator who has not only produced films she has also curated film festivals here in Philadelphia. In 2005 she produced a film entitled Seen Not Heard. As a filmmaker herself she has experienced first hand the difficulties filmmakers of African descent face trying to get their works exhibited and shown. This is why she took the initiative to produce the 2012 Black Star Film Festival, to provide a venue to display a wide variety of films from numerous artists. In its present form the festival will exhibit forty films including full length narratives, documentaries and shorts. There will be after parties, networking events and workshop opportunities to meet the some of the filmmakers and directors in person at the three venues.
Originally Maori wanted to just select and show four or five films but her dream took on a life of its own. “I started the festival initially as just a short program. I was going to put on a few films for a few days. I was going to show four African films from all over the continent. As I started doing my research for that, I started looking at all these films that I hadn't heard about because they hadn't come to Philadelphia or I had seen them at other festivals the year before and I realized they hadn't shown widely. I started thinking, 'why don't we have a festival.'”
Maori wanted a grass roots community feel and ambiance for the festival so she approached the International House, African-American Museum and Art Sanctuary rather than going to the major corporate theaters to ask them to exhibit the films. “I approached International House because of my relationship with them. They premiered my film Seen Not Heard and I'd done other programming with them including the Black Lily Film Festival. They have a really wonderful screening space including great audio so I didn't even think to approach the corporate film exhibitors.”
Film artistry is not something foreign to Maori karmeal Holmes “I had the good fortune to be nurtured in this environment. My mother is a playwright and always worked with independent filmmakers in Atlanta and when I went to Howard University for college I was introduced to Haile Garima. When I came to Philly the first person I met was Louis Messiah at Scribe Video Center.” Maori already had experience curating film festivals in Philadelphia having produced a social justice film series and the Black Lily Film Festival but the Black Star Film Festival is going to be more ambitious.
The Black Star Film Festival is exhibiting forty films by Africans from all over the world, Africa, the United Kingdom, the Caribbean, North and South America. The films cover a myriad of topics and issues from full length features, to documentaries to music videos. The films will be shown at the International House located at 3701 Chestnut Street in West Philadelphia and the African-American Museum at 701 Arch Street in center city. The Art Sanctuary located at 628 S 16th Street will be the venue for the parties, workshops and special events. They are also casting for two new screenplays one is a television pilot. Auditions were held last week but there will be live performances on Saturday August 4 at 11 AM and Sunday August 5 at 11 AM.
The 2012 festival is the maiden voyage and Maori will determine if there is a sequel or ongoing festival based upon the turnout and feedback she receives from this year's festival. “I think we're going to see how the festival goes this year before we announce a schedule. We don't want to grow too fast too soon I think we might do every other year and we may do every years depending on what happens. We want to see how many people come out and how many people support us. For full details on the screening schedule, workshops and parties go to their Website http://www.blackstarfest.org/
All the workshops will be at the International House, every workshop is free and open to the public. They are seeking volunteers. Volunteers work a three hour shift, you will get two passes to the film of your choice. To volunteer go to the Website click the menu for volunteer and fill out the form. The 2012 Black Star Film Festival promises to be an enlightening and enjoyable event. Come out and support these independent filmmakers.