Blackstar 2019: Documentary Overview

The 8th Blackstar Film Festival

August 1-4

This acclaimed Philadelphia event, focused on work by people of the African diaspora and other communities of color, presents 22 features this year, 14 of those nonfiction.


The fest will present a sneak preview of Erik Parker and One9’s HIP-HOP: THE SONGS THAT SHOOK AMERICA, a new docuseries about groundbreaking hip-hop songs; the North American premiere of Tania Hernández Velasco’s TITIXE, about a Mexican farming family; the US premiere of Sam Ellison’s CHECHE LAVI (LOOKING FOR LIFE), which profiles two Haitians in limbo at the US/Mexico border; and the East Coast premieres of Aiwan Obinyan’s WAX PRINT: 1 FABRIC, 4 CONTINENTS, 200 YEARS OF HISTORY, on the significance and symbolism of the titular material; and Naziha Arebi’s FREEDOM FIELDS, about a Libyan women’s soccer team.


Local premieres are Kimberly Rivers Roberts’ FEAR NO GUMBO, a look at gentrification, racism, and corruption in New Orleans; Priya Sen’s YEH FREEDOM LIFE, which follows two young, working-class Indian men looking for love; two Sundance titles – Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra’s THE INFILTRATORS, a hybrid docufiction project detailing the mission of undocumented youth to be detained by Border Patrol, and Jacqueline Olive’s ALWAYS IN SEASON, which interrogates the disturbing, lasting legacy of lynching in America; from Tribeca, Roger Ross Williams’ THE APOLLO, on the history and legacy of the legendary Harlem theatre; from SXSW, Rodney Evans’ VISION PORTRAITS, a personal film exploring the lives and work of visually-impaired artists; Lana Lin’s THE CANCER JOURNALS REVISITED, a meditation on women of color and health through the lens of Audre Lorde’s breast cancer memoir; and two films that have had their PBS debuts, Christina D King and Elizabeth Castle’s WARRIOR WOMEN, in which a Native American activist reflects on a lifetime of resistance, and Stanley Nelson’s BOSS: THE BLACK EXPERIENCE IN BUSINESS, an exploration of the history of African American entrepreneurship and business.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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