5 Films We're Excited To See At BlackStar Film Festival 2016
A still from How To Tell You're A Douchebag via BlackStar Film Festival
A celebration of indie black films from across the world, the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia has become an annual event that champions the work of up and coming black cinema. This year is no exception: featuring everything from documentaries to romantic comedies, BlackStar will be showing a diverse roster of movies for your enjoyment. Need help choosing which ones you should see if you're attending? Well, look no further — we've chosen the five films we're anticipating most from the festival, below.
Director Matthew A. Cherry is known for making music videos for the likes of Michelle Williams and Bilal, but he also does a number of other projects on the side. Daily vlogs, a comedic web series and, most recently, 9 Rides.
Dubbed the "first feature film about an Uber driver," 9 Rides puts us in the passenger seat with an Uber driver (Dorian Missick) working on New Year's Eve. As he travels across the city he meets nine different groups of passengers who help him come to terms with some life changing news. What that news is? Well, you'll just have to check out the film to find out. 9 Rides particularly stands out at Blackstar (it also premiered at this year's SXSW) because it was filmed entirely on iPhone 6s in 4k resolution.
CeCe McDonald's entire life changed on June 5, 2011. A black bi-trans woman and activist from Minneapolis, Minnesota, McDonald and a group of friends found themselves in a altercation between some people outside of a bar. Ultimately, a man died that night, with McDonald taking the blame for his death and accepting a plea deal that led to her being incarcerated in a men's prison in Minnesota.
FREE CeCe director Jac Gares captures McDonald's story upon being released from prison, using her as a means of exploring race, class and gender in America, as well as the country's controversial prison industrial complex. Laverne Cox serves as the film's executive producer.
The premise is all in the name with this black romantic comedy. Relationship blogger Ray Livingston (Charles Brice) becomes infamous through his blog "Occasionally Dating Black Woman," but not in a good way. He meets his match in up and coming writer Rochelle Marseille (DeWanda Wise), who doesn't shy away from letting Livingston know that he's, well, probably a douchebag.
Syl Johnson is arguably one of the most important figures in the history of R&B and soul music. "Different Strokes," "Is It Because I'm Black," "Come On Sock It To Me" — Johnson's music is timeless. But the artist eventually disappeared from the music industry and started a fast-food fish chain in Chicago. Fast forward to now and he's an integral part to the beginnings of rap music, his catalog having been sampled by Public Enemy, Geto Boys and the Wu-Tang Clan.
Syl Johnson is a celebration of the artist's untold story, his everlasting influence and a film you certainly shouldn't miss.
This experimental black film has been on our radar for a minute. Similar to 9 Rides, Dreamstates was shot entirely on iPhone and tells the story of two artists that find themselves in love after meeting each other on tour. Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman serve as the film's central characters, who also put the project together.
What are you looking forward to seeing? Share your picks with us on Twitter @Okayplayer!