The Philadelphia-based BlackStar Film Festival seeks to illuminate the global black experience by showing films by and about people of African descent from across the world. On May 10th, Kelly Strayhorn Theater will bring this event to Pittsburgh to showcase a number of narrative, documentary, and experimental works.
1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Black Film Now panel discussion
This comedy from Black & Sexy TV explores the issues that couples face at some point in their relationships. Created by Jeanine Daniels and Dennis Dortch, and directed by Dortch, the web series stars Numa Perrier and Desmond Faison. Spike Lee recently boarded The Couple as executive producer for a new venture deal with HBO. A Q&A with Perrier will follow the screening.
4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
African Short Films
Merkato takes a personal journey through one of the largest and oldest open air markets in Africa (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia). From the perspective of five personal stories a reflection emerges of a fascinating place that is a true microcosm of the human condition. The culture and way of life for many of Merkato’s merchants is under threat by modern development. Merkato is the final portrait of the people who live, work and dream within this rapidly transforming reality. A Q&A with director Sosena Solomon will follow the screening.
An African family, lost in America, travels to a Louisiana church to find a cure for its problem child. Stars Oscar-nominated actress Quvenzhané Wallis.
Sweet, Sweet Country
Living in a small Southern town, 20 year-old refugee Ndizeye struggles to support not only herself, but the family she left behind in a Kenyan refugee camp. Her struggle becomes so much more when her family literally shows up at her doorstep.
5:45 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.
Things Never Said
Kalindra Stepney (Kal) plays an aspiring poetess, but truthfully she’s an artist who’s lost. Haunted by dreams deferred and a dangerous marriage, this Los Angelean yearns of bringing her poetry to New York. Wounded by a miscarriage and saddled with Ronnie, an angry husband, Kal tries desperately to find an outlet for her struggling artistic voice. Adding to her distress is best friend and compatriot Daphne, also grappling with love issues. Daphne’s boyfriend Steve is a lout who willfully and regularly takes advantage of Daphne and Kal doesn’t approve. This turmoil, coupled with the surprise and uncertainty of new love Curtis Jackson, hits Kal where she’s most vulnerable. Just as Kal helps Curtis with his unchallenged perceptions about his damaged past relationship and estranged young daughter, Curtis’ influence leads Kal to dig deeper, to find her voice, and ultimately, a sense of self worth. A Q&A with director Charles Murray will follow the screening.
8 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Diary of a Decade
The story of a cultural legend as told by the innovators of an important, and sometimes overlooked, era in black culture. Spanning the late 1980s through the early 2000s, this story goes deep into the fabric of soul music, its definitions, its pioneers, its offspring, its movements, the challenges with the commercial music industry and the evolution of the FunkJazz Kafe, a music and arts movement/festival born out of Atlanta’s diverse musical heritage. The film covers the decade when Atlanta’s underground music scene became established on the world stage and a new generation of soul singers and musicians emerged. Features appearances by Cornel West, Cee Lo Green, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, George Clinton, Roy Ayers, and many others. A Q&A with director Jason Orr will follow the screening.
The event will also include a Ujamaa Collective Marketplace, which will run for the duration of the festival. Tickets for BlackStar are $15 for an All Access pass, $5 for each individual film, and are available for purchase at the Kelly Strayhorn website.