BlackStar Film Festival Announces Full Lineup, Ticketing, and More for 2020 Festival

BlackStar Film Festival, the world’s premier celebration of Black, Brown, and Indigenous film and video artists, is pleased to announce the full lineup of films for the 2020 program, which will take place August 20-26, 2020. In response to COVID-19, the ninth edition of the festival will be presented entirely online this year. This year’s lineup includes more than 80 films, including 24 world premieres and representing over 20 countries. The BlackStar Film Festival is an annual celebration of the visual and storytelling traditions of the African diaspora and global communities of color — showcasing films by Black, Brown, and Indigenous people from around the world.

Among the world premieres are documentaries, shorts and features, including Unapologetic, a feature documentary by Ashley O’Shay, that takes a deep look into the Movement for Black Lives in Chicago, providing an intimate peek into the personal and political battles that transform the city. Tayler Montague’s debut short In Sudden Darkness, about a working-class family trying to stay afloat in the midst of a city-wide blackout. The short documentary You Hide Me, made in 1970 but banned widely upon completion. Ghanian filmmaker Nii Kwate Owoo examines the colonization of African Art in the British Museum, London, gaining unprecedented access into the museum’s secret underground vaults. Shantrelle Patrice Lewis’ debut feature Daughters Of, which examines the immediate and critical importance of self-care and healing for Black women. Raishad Hardnett, Lauren M. Schneiderman & Cassie Owens’ Legendary: 30 Years of Philly Ballroom, an inside look into the effort to preserve Philadelphia’s ballroom scene, a Black and Latinx LGBTQ safe space that has endured for 30 years. 


Photo © BlackStar Film Festival 

Other highlights include Martina Lee’s Black Boy Joy, a short about two generations of Black men, living within the same household, juggling the demands of raising a young son with autism while adapting to their new normal after the death of a loved one. Channing Godfrey Peoples’ feature narrative Miss Juneteenth, about a former beauty queen and single mom preparing her rebellious teenage daughter for the “Miss Juneteenth” pageant. Coded Bias, a feature documentary from director Shalini Kantayya that follows MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini and the fallout from her startling discovery that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces accurately. Ekwa Msangi’s Farewell Amor, a feature narrative about an Angolan immigrant whose wife and teen daughter are finally able to join him in the U.S., after 17 years apart. Nationtime – Gary, a feature documentary by William Greaves about the National Black Political Convention of 1972 in Gary, Indiana. A Day With Jerusa from Brazilian filmmaker Viviane Ferreira, following a young medium and her 77-year-old neighbor as they travel through time and realities common to their ancestry. Amy Aniobi’s HONEYMOON, telling the story of a newlywed couple on their first night together––made all the more awkward, romantic, and honest, because they only just met.


Photo © BlackStar Film Festival 

Loira Limbal’s feature documentary Through The Night, presenting the stories of two working mothers and a child care provider, whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center. Michèle Stephenson’s Stateless, a feature documentary following the campaign of electoral hopeful Rosa Iris and revealing the depths of racial hatred and institutionalized oppression that divide Haiti and the Dominican Republic. I ran from it and was still in it, an experimental film from Darol Olu Kae offering an intimate portrait of familial loss and separation. Down a Dark Stairwell, a documentary from Chinese-American Filmmaker Ursula Liang. The film looks at the complicated fight for accountability and justice after a Chinese-American police officer kills an unarmed, innocent black man in a dark stairwell of a NYC public housing project. Zeshawn Ali’s Two Gods, about a Muslim casket maker and ritual body washer in Newark who takes two young men under his wing and teaches them how to live better lives. Right Near the Beach, Gibrey Allen’s feature narrative looking at the murder of a prominent Jamaican and the public uproar caused by rumours about the secret life he may have lived. ROCÍO, a feature documentary from Mexican-American filmmaker Dario Guerrero. The film profiles an undocumented mother of three who, after a sudden cancer diagnosis, must choose between seeking treatment in her native Mexico or awaiting certain death in the US. 


Photo © BlackStar Film Festival 

BlackStar Film Festival receives support from its dedicated audience along with private foundations, public agencies, corporate, non-profit, and individual sponsors. 2020 supporters include Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, Barra Foundation, British Film Council, CineReach, Color of Change, Ford Foundation/JustFilms, Impact Partners, Independent Public Media Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Netflix, PECO, Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, Pennsylvania Humanities Council, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Samuel S. Fels Fund, Sundance Institute, Surdna Foundation, WarnerMedia, and WHYY. 

More information on judging, sponsors, and additional programming and events will be announced soon. For overall information on the festival and its programs, visit the festival’s website.


Photo © BlackStar Film Festival 

* Press release provided by BlackStar Film Festival. 

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