@blackstarfest @karmalux

Something special happens next week in Philly: It’s the launch of the first BlackStar Film Festival!  We met founder and curator Maori Karmael Holmes last year, but little did we know she was planning a 4-day, 40-film extravaganza that showcases work from 4 continents.  To our surprise, BlackStar is the only festival of its kind in Philly, one that features “narratives, documentaries, music videos, and experimental films highlighting the global black experience.”

One of the event highlights is a conversation with filmmaker and distributor Ava DuVernay, who is the first black woman to win Sundance’s coveted Best Director Award for her upcoming feature Middle of Nowhere.  She’s also the force behind AFFRM, the African American Film Releasing Movement, which has distributed three films thusfar: I Will Follow, Kinyarwanda and Restless City, with Middle of Nowhere following in the fall.

US Premieres include:

•       The United States of Hoodoo (Germany), directed by Oliver Hardt (Germany), this film follows expat writer Darius James as he returns to the US to uncover the legacy of Voodoo myths and legends.

•       Adopted ID (UK/Canada/Haiti) directed by Sonia Godding Togobo, this film uncovers its main character’s extraordinary journey as she bravely returns to a post-earthquake Haiti to locate her birth parents.

Philadelphia Premieres include:

•       Soul Food Junkies (US), directed by Byron Hurt, exploring the history and significance of so-called “soul food” and its connection to black cultural identity.

•       FunkJazz Kafé: Diary of a Decade (US), directed by Jason Orr, this film tells the story of the famed alternative soul scene in Atlanta in the 1990s that launched the careers of some of today’s most esteemed musicians.

Additionally, 16 directors will be in attendance with their films including:

Adopted ID
Sonia Godding Togobo
Chamber of Echoes
Raphael Xavier
Nelson George
The PuNanny Diaries
Phil Branch (executive producer)
Leaked: Last Night at the Five Spot
Mike Dennis
Breathe Again
Kurt Ordersen
A Lovers Call
Najma Nurridin
Rodney Lee
Michelle Serieux
United States of Hoodoo
Oliver Hardt
The Res Conversation (preview)
Steve Zegans
Being Bilal
Roni Nicole
FunkJazzKafe: Diary of a Decade (The Story of a Movement)
Jason Orr
The Connection: Black Love Lives
Nisa Ra
Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens
John L. Jackson (tent.)
Soul Food Junkies
Byron Hurt



Tickets for individual screenings are $8 and $5 for students & seniors.  Full festival passes are also available.  CLICK HERE for ticketing info.


Finally, there’s a bunch of music-oriented programming in the festival, from music videos from Shabazz Palaces, THEESatisfaction, The Congo’s Alesh and DC’s Yahzarah; to documentaries on Res, afro-electronic musician Val-Inc., and Bilal Oliver.  There’s also an art exhibit featuring the work of our friends at the Shaolin Jazz Collective.

Additional link:

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