Back in March, we watched the film industry pause as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to safety restrictions on large gatherings, film festivals have been largely affected—many being postponed or cancelled. Philadelphia’s BlackStar Film Festival will not be one of them. Fortunately for us, the event moved entirely online. The organizers have planned an exciting slate of virtual screenings and events to keep this essential festival going.
The 9th annual BlackStar Film Festival is set for August 20-26 and will be showcasing the visual and storytelling traditions of global communities of color. This week-long celebration of Black, Brown and Indigenous filmmakers has a lineup of over 80 films from over 20 countries. This year’s lineup comes at an important moment in history. In addition to the pandemic, we’ve seen continued protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and a demand for diversity in the film industry.
The BlackStar Film Fest team was creative with their programming as they made live panels and special events virtually accessible. Before the films showcase each day, the festival will have a morning show called BlackStar Live! It will feature interviews, live performances and discussions based on what’s happening for the day. Additionally, BlackStar has live panels that are free to the public and available on their website, Facebook and Youtube. A few of the days will feature special events, too, stay tuned for their announcements on those.
Tickets and passes are now on sale. Attendees are given the option to purchase individual day passes for $5 or a full festival pass & annual membership with BlackStar. Members are given an exclusive seat in the Pitch Session where a selection of filmmakers of color present their works-in-progress to a panel of film industry professionals. With only seven minutes to present, the winner is awarded a $25k co-production deal with WORLD Channel.
Although this year is limited to virtual showcases and events, the organizers remain committed to providing a one of a kind festival experience for film lovers.
Header image from one of the films in the festival: Unapologetic, Dir. Ashley O’Shay.