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July 23, 2023

BlackStar Film Festival returns next month with 93 film screenings at three Philly theaters

The 12th annual event runs from Aug. 2-6, celebrating Black, Brown and Indigenous voices in filmmaking and media arts

Arts & Culture Film Festivals
BlackStar Film Festival Provided Image/BlackStar Film Festival

The BlackStar Film Festival returns from Aug. 2-6 with 93 films screening at three Philadelphia theaters. Above is a still from 'The Vacation,' a short film by Jarreau Carrillo.

BlackStar Projects, the Philadelphia organization celebrating Black, Brown and Indigenous voices in filmmaking, will host its 12th film festival at three movie theaters across the city next month. 

The BlackStar Film Festival will screen 93 films, including five U.S. premieres, from Aug. 2-6. The films presented this year highlight some of the most polarizing and relevant issues of our time, including climate justice, migration and displacement. Screenings will take place at the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center, Suzanne Roberts Theater and Lightbox Film Center, as well as online. 

"We are excited to present another groundbreaking lineup and hope it allows filmmakers of the global majority to connect with new audiences through intimate and important storytellings," said Maori Karmael Holmes, BlackStar chief executive and artistic officer. "We consider every aspect of the festival to be an intentional community building effort, centered on joy, radical care, and thriving, and we are looking forward to presenting another festival that embodies this generous spirit." 

The Philadelphia Filmmaker Lab, which debuted in 2021, is back once again with a collection of short films made by emerging and mid-career filmmakers. Once the films are screened at the festival, they will be held exclusively on Xfinity's Black Experience channel. 

This year's selection of short films from the Philadelphia Filmmaker Lab include Zardosht Afshari's "An Endoscopy," in which a film student accompanies an Iraqi student through a medical procedure. David Gaines' "The Freedom To Fall Apart" includes four vignettes centered around showing the function of shame among Black Americans, while Simone Holland's "All That's Left" follows Mercedes, a woman who struggles to differentiate between reality and her imagination as she embarks on a journey of self-exploration. 

BlackStar's film festival includes films from 31 countries, including 19 world premieres, 11 North American premieres and 47 Philly premieres. Below are highlighted feature film, short film and documentary selections from the multi-day festival, with plot summaries provided by BlackStar. 

"The Wind Carries Us Home" — an experimental film directed by Jarreau Carrillo tracks a group of friends attempting to take a trip to the beach on the last day of summer. When their car won't start, they're forced to take the vacation in another car. 
"The Space Race" — a documentary directed by Lisa Cortez and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza uncovers stories about the first Black pilots, engineers and scientists to become astronauts. 
"The Alexander Ball" — a short documentary directed by Jessica Magro celebrates Samoan-Maori-Australian trans women of color, Ella Ganza and the Meanjin ballroom scene as the community prepares for one of the biggest ballroom events of the year.  
"Sol In The Garden" — a short documentary directed by Emily Cohen Ibanez and Debora Souza Silva that chronicles a formerly incarcerated woman as she nourishes a garden in her new community. 
"La Lucha" — a documentary directed by Violeta Ayala that follows a group of disabled people in Bolivia as they unite in protest for a pension. 
"I Am More Dangerous Dead" — a short documentary directed by Majiye Uchibeke that provides a poetic tribute to writer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed alongside eight other activists for opposing damage done in their oil-rich homeland, Ogoni. 
"Mountains" — a feature film directed by Monica Sorelle about a Haitian demolition worker who is faced with the realities of redevelopment as he is tasked with dismantling his rapidly gentrifying Miami neighborhood. 

The full lineup and schedule for the 2023 BlackStar Film Festival can be found here. Individual tickets, all-access festival passes and virtual festival passes are available now

In addition to the lineup, BlackStar will host panels with directors and producers throughout the festival, along with parties and mixers throughout the city and yoga in the lounge at the Kimmel Center.