Highlights of the 2020 BlackStar Film Festival

3 minute read
The BlackStar Film Festival is back with a wide selection of films and panels. (Image courtesy of BlackStar Film Festival.)
The BlackStar Film Festival is back with a wide selection of films and panels. (Image courtesy of BlackStar Film Festival.)

The annual BlackStar Film Festival is back with a hearty lineup of narrative films, documentaries, shorts, and panels. This week’s weekend roundup highlights our picks as the festival kicks off on Thursday, August 20 and runs through Wednesday, August 26. These are only but a few of the dozens of films set to be screened, with most of them available for streaming online.

For what it’s worth, some of the films, including most of the feature narratives, will be screened as part of their drive-in series. BSR is still holding out on advocating any in-person events, so this roundup will feature what will be available online.

Be sure to secure passes for the films you want to see and check out the long list of films and panels for yourself. This year’s festival covers many marginalized communities and might be one of the most pivotal of the annual BlackStar film festivals given our current social climate.

Feature Narratives

Farewell Amor
Wednesday, August 26, 7:30pm
Stream online

Farewell Amor tells the story of an Angolan immigrant who reunites with his wife and teen daughter in the US after being 17 years apart. Their love of dance helps reconnect them. The film is directed by Ekwa Msangi—check out an interview with her at IndieWire where she talks about the film.

Feature Documentaries

Through the Night
Friday, August 21, 7pm
Stream online

A verité documentary that takes a real-life look at two working mothers and a childcare provider whose lives intersect as they all make ends meet as Americans working long hours through multiple jobs struggling to make ends meet.

Nationtime – Gary

Sunday, August 23, 7pm
Stream online

William Greaves’s long-lost film documents the National Black Political Convention of 1972, when 10,000 Black politicians, activisits, and artists went to Gary, Indiana to form a national unity platform in advance of the presidential conventions.

Making Sweet Tea
Tuesday, August 25, 10am
Stream online

E. Patrick Johnson, the southern-born Black gay researcher and performer, journeys to North Carolina, Georgia, New Orleans, and Washington D.C. to come to terms with his past and reconnect with six Black gay men he interviewed for the book Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South—An Oral History.

Wednesday, August 26, 1:30pm
Stream online

The doc from Michèle Stephenson reveals the depths of racial hatred and institutionalized oppression that divide Haiti and the Dominican Republic, through the grassroots campaign of electoral hopeful Rosa Iris.


Nonfiction Vernacular and Collaboration
Thursday, August 20, 12pm
Watch live on Facebook

Panelists Amir George, Lyric R Cabral, Jazmin Jones, and Kevin B Lee discuss how nonfiction filmmakers and artists of color are pushing against the norm of storytelling, “questioning the notion of single authorship and forgoing the three-act story structure for collaborative storytelling and framing techniques that reposition the subjects’ presence and allow alternative readings of the film to emerge.”

Beyond the Status: Working with and Investing in Undocumented Creatives

Friday, August 21, 4pm
Watch live on Facebook

What needs to happen for American filmmakers to better collaborate, partner, and invest in undocumented artists? How can the industry be more equitable towards migrant filmmakers and their concerns? This panel looks to unpack that, outlining the challenges and concrete steps to supporting and integrating undocumented creatives and their voices into the medium.

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