BlackStar Film Festival 2020 – Films to watch

The Philadelphia based BlackStar Film Festival will be taking place online for its 9th year in 2020. The festival starts today 20 August and will run until 26 August. The BlackStar Film Festival has been described as the ‘Black Sundance’ and showcases independent films as well as videos from black, brown and indigenous people highlighting the stories from those communities.

Nearly 90 films will be participating in this year’s festival featuring a shorts programme, live events, features and documentaries. Every day there will be a morning show at 9.15am (EST)/ 2.15pm (BST) which will include roundtable discussions of the day’s film programming, interviews and live performances. These events can be accessed within the BlackStar Film Festival’s website or alternatively on Facebook. This programming will be free to access.

There will also be an opening party with Philadelphia resident, DJ Jazzy Jeff, which will be broadcast on Facebook and the festival’s website.

To access the screenings, there will be a ticketed online portal. Tickets can be purchased on the BlackStar Film Festival website here. The tickets range from individual day passes to a festival pass granting access to all films at any time throughout the festival. A few of the film screenings are geographically dependent and can only be viewed within the US but these are clearly indicated within the programme guide.

BlackStar Film Festival Poster design by Joshua Mays
BlackStar Film Festival Poster design by Joshua Mays

Three films, however, are not accessible through the online portal as these will be in person, drive in screenings in Philadelphia. These screenings are available on a free of charge, first come, first served basis and so it will require a rapid booking of those tickets!

The drive-in screenings are:

Be Water – a documentary about Bruce Lee’s life and his rise to fame.

The Forty-Year-Old Version – Winner of the Directing Prize at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. The film tells the tale of Radha, who is a playwright, trying to achieve a career breakthrough by the age of 40. However, this goal starts to seem impossible and so she re-invents herself as a rapper.

Miss Juneteenth – this follows the story of a former beauty queen’s struggle to prepare her rebellious teenage daughter to enter the upcoming ‘Miss Juneteenth’ beauty pageant.

A few other films that sounded interesting are:

Right Near the Beach – nominated for the Best Feature Narrative. The murder of the prominent Jamaican sprinter, Jeffrey Jacobs, causes rumours about his secret life to surface which leads to obstacles in the murder investigation.

Unapologetic – the film will have its World Premiere at the festival. Unapologetic provides an insight into the Black Lives Matter movement as captured through the eyes of two black women involved in political and social justice campaigning.

Farewell Amor – this film has been nominated for the Best Feature Narrative and will be a Philadelphia Premiere. An Angolan family separated over 17 years are re-united but find there is so much distance between them that only dance can seem to resolve!

Daughters Of – the film will have its World Premiere during the festival. This documentary shares positive experiences of women across generations as they tell their stories of hope, healing and the necessity of self-care.

There will also be an In Conversation event with Heidi Sama and Lulu Wang to join at this year’s festival.

The full programme schedule can be accessed here to join in with this celebration of films from the black, brown and indigenous communities.

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