Begun in 2012, the BlackStar Film Festival brings work by black filmmakers from around the world to Philadelphia for a weekend-long celebration of storytelling about the global experiences of African-descended people. This year, things will kick off on August 4 with a series of screenings at International House followed by an opening party at Johnny Brenda’s.
From August 5-7, the Festival will host more than 60 short, feature-length, and documentary films, along with talks and awards ceremonies, at venues across the city. Tickets to each screening cost $12 apiece, although a $150 pass will get you into all events during the festival’s four-day run. (Keep an eye out for more coverage of the Festival later this month from Kathryn Pyle.)
Plenty of filmmakers local to Philadelphia deal with themes relating to the black experience. Although it isn’t part of the festival, Scribe Video Center will screen four works by one Philly-area director, Bryan Oliver Green, for free on July 29. Green will be in attendance to talk about his work, which deals with “homelessness, racism, and the black experience” in his home city and elsewhere.
Kubrick, Spielberg, Scott, and Carpenter
Cinema Ray sits on an archive of rare, vintage and just plain weird films that it screens on a regular basis for audiences in Philadelphia. Occasionally, however, the group will devote time to bona-fide classics — such as the four triumphs of science fiction that it will show once a week during late July and early August.
On July 20, Cinema Ray will host Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking 1968 masterwork, 2001: A Space Odyssey. One of Steven Spielberg’s early sci-fi efforts, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, will follow on July 27. Then, on August 4, it’s Alien, Ridley Scott’s second and possibly best film. John Carpenter’s The Thing will round out the series on August 10. All screenings cost $8 and will take place at the Ruba Club in Northern Liberties.
Cult films, figuratively and literally
Ever wonder what life in a cult out West would be like? To find out, head to PhilaMOCA on July 14 and 15 for the Philadelphia premiere of Holy Hell, a documentary about California’s Buddahfield organization. Filmed by Will Allen, a 20-year member of the spiritual group, the doc features interviews with cult members along with archival footage cobbled together during Allen’s time among the 100-plus followers of Buddahfield’s leader, Jaime Gomez.
Finally, don’t forget about the political films that PhilaMOCA will most irreverently show when the DNC comes to town: the always-dependable Idiocracy on July 27 and, on July 28, a 1978 documentary on former Philly mayor Frank Rizzo.