Film festivals are an excellent way to meet fellow Black artists, writers, directors and screenwriters, as well as an ideal space for a Black filmmaker to showcase a film that could potentially launch their career. With the 2010s coming to a close, it’s safe to say we are knee-deep in the emergence of another Black cinematic renaissance. Now is a better time than ever for Black creatives to get their names out there, and there is no better way to do that than with film festivals centering on content devoted to the Black experience.
Here are 10 Black film festivals you should attend or apply to:
The American Black Film Festival was created by Jeff Friday in 1997. Since then the festival has gone to feature the likes of Ryan Coogler, Issa Rae, and Kerry Washington. The 23rd annual American Black Film Festival took place in Miami Beach from June 12 -16.
The North Carolina Black Film Festival was held this year from March 21 – 24 and showcases full-length films, short films and documentaries from Black writers and directors. Past honorees at the North Carolina Black Film Festival have included Ava DuVernay and Giancarlo Esposito.
As emphasized by its title, the African Diasporic International Film Festival celebrates the experiences of Black people from all around the world. In case anyone needed to be reminded, the Black experience is multidimensional and not a monolith. The African Diasporic International Film Festival will take place from August 9 to 11.
Established in 1982, The Pan African Film Festival is held every year in Los Angeles, California. The PAFF has hosted screenings of films such as Black Panther and Love and Basketball. PAFF is held annually every February to coincide with Black History Month.
This year’s San Francisco Black Film Festival took place from June 13 to June 16. As a competitive film festival, the SFBFF takes a keen notice of emerging Black talent (actors, directors, and screenwriters) who are contributing to the constantly evolving legacy of African American cinema.
Since 1994, the Black Harvest International Film Festival has been the Midwest’s largest and longest-running film festival devoted to narratives centering the Black experience. Held annually at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, the festival specializes in independent films that celebrate and excavate the experiences of Black people across the globe. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, this year’s Black Harvest International Film Festival will take place on August 3rd through the 29th and will pay tribute to Spike Lee with his 1994 film Crooklyn.
The 29th annual Cascade Festival of African Films took place this year from February 1 to March 2 and showcases an image of Africa through the lens of Africans. Taking place in Portland, Oregon, the festival features full-length feature films, documentaries and short films from emerging African filmmakers from over 18 countries.
As stated on its website, the New York African Film Festival prides itself on “advancing an enhanced understanding of African culture through the moving image.” Since 1993, the New York African Film Festival has been a major launching pad for filmmakers hoping to increase the visibility of African arts and culture through the moving image.
One of the largest film festivals devoted to films centering Black narratives, Urbanworld has partnered with both BET and HBO to expand society’s definition of the term “urban,” through the lens of film, digital content and music. Prominent guests at the Urbanworld Film Festival have included Tiffany Haddish, Chadwick Boseman and Ava DuVernay. This year’s Urbanworld FIlm Festival will take place in New York City from September 18 to 22.
The 2019 Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival is set to take place from August 5 to August 10 in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts. Among the list of shows that will be showcased at the festival are the upcoming acclaimed OWN drama, David Makes Man and the Tracy Oliver’s reboot of First Wives Club. The Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival is also an Oscar-qualifying festival in the Short Film category.
Photo: Getty Images for ABFF