It is that time of year again when countless talent will converge upon Philadelphia for the BlackStar Film Festival for the annual celebration of the visual storytelling traditions throughout the African diaspora and global communities of color.

Founded in 2012 by Maori Karmael Holmes, the BlackStar Film Festival is an opportunity for Black creatives to showcase important works by underrepresented filmmakers, and spark important conversations about how art can facilitate change.

The festival organizers have introduced works from award-winning writers/directors Darius Clark Monroe (Evolution of a Criminal), Nijla Baseema Mu’min (Jinn) and Naima Ramos-Chapman (Random Acts of Flyness) allowing them to cultivate a fanbase and showcase their talents which led to other opportunities.  

This year’s line-up of panels and conversations at BlackStar will feature filmmakers, scholars, and critics discussing a range of topics including Afro-Latinx identity, contemporary art, an emerging new cinematic language, Black masculinity and more.

“It is incredibly important for us to be in dialogue with one another, not only during the festival, but year-round,” said Holmes. “It is these critical moments of reflection in which the artists and audience members get a chance to be in the proverbial ‘cipher,’ exchanging ideas and expanding our understanding of film making and visual culture by people of color in a global context.”

BlackStar will also commemorate the 30th anniversary of the groundbreaking film Do The Right Thing, with an appearance by Academy Award winning filmmaker, Spike Lee and activist and Me Too founder Tarana Burke. The pair will discuss the how storytelling can become a pathway leading to social justice and change, a topic that is clearly defined in many of Lee’s projects, but arguably none more than the 1989 hit. The panel is presented in collaboration with Color of Change and Open Society Foundations

“We feel so lucky to host this conversation, on the anniversary of this important film, which shaped so many of us as makers and as activists,” said Holmes. “As we are still grappling with so many of the same issues in our communities two generations later, but yet more ‘woke’ than ever, BlackStar feels like a potent space to examine the potential of narrative change with these two cultural leaders.”

Other panel discussions and workshops will include Cinema in the Museum, Critics of Color Roundtable, a directing workshop with Blitz Bazawule, the Global Black Aesthetic and more.

BlackStar will take place August 1-4 in various venues around Philadelphia and the festival will kick off with the city debut of the film “Jezebel,” which was written and directed by Numa Perrier. Events will conclude with the premiere of Solange Knowles‘ new film, When I Get Home, which is said to be an unapologetic display of Black aesthetic.

Solange Knowles presents an extended cut featuring new scenes and musical arrangements of her performance art film “When I Get Home” during the closing night of the festival. (Photo courtesy of BlackStar Film Festival.)

Tickets will be on sale through July 31. For more information about the festival please visit BlackStarFest.org