Entertainment, Film and Music

African American Film Festivals In Full Swing

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When that fall weather hits, everyone starts to slow down a bit. Suddenly a cozy fire and a movie night sound more appealing than looking for a party to go to.

Perhaps that’s what makes autumn the perfect time of the year for film festivals. That’s especially true of that that take a look back and honour those who have made a difference in the industry. And the festivals that choose to celebrate African influence in film are in no short supply.

The Milwaukee Film Festival, which runs from 25th September to 9th October, has introduced a new program this year called “Black Lens,” which features work solely from African American filmmakers. Noteworthy attendees include highly praised director John Ridley, a perfect example of the diversity that members of the African American community have brought to the world of film.

Ridley’s portfolio includes powerful films such as 12 Years a Slave, the 2014 Academy Award winner for “Best Motion Picture of the Year.” According to Betfair contributor/film buff Max Liu, this win for Ridley came as no surprise. Even before the award shows earlier this year, Liu wrote in an article that Ridley’s film was already dominating the attention from the media. And yet, even with all the film’s and his subsequent success, Ridley has chosen not to screen the blockbuster at the festival. Instead, he will be screening his recent, smaller project, Jimi: All Is By My Side from 2013. The movie, which he wrote and directed, follows a year in the life of legendary musician Jimi Hendrix.

There is also the African American Film Festival at the Southampton African American Museum in New York. The ninth annual festival will take place from 2nd October through 5th October, and this year’s theme is “Raise Your Voice.” The Southampton Patch describes the theme as follows: “A celebration of the artistry of African-American filmmakers, actors, personalities, musicians and performers.” It’s set to feature a slew of different film showings in addition to jazz and spoken word performances.

The first night attendees will be viewing Fruitvale Station, written and directed by Ryan Coogler. The film follows the events that led to the death of Oscar Grant, a young man killed by police officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, Calif. The movie has been showered with awards from various organizations, including accolades from the Cannes Film Festival, and Sundance Film Festival.

Finally there is the eighth annual Black International Film Festival that will take place between the 26th October and 1st November at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham, England. The festival website says that one of the biggest events during the festival, the Movie Video & Screen Awards, “will be ‘bejazzled’ with a ‘Diamonds’ theme for the night.” Actor Rudolph Walker OBE (also known as Patrick Truman) will host the MViSAs.

If the cooler weather hasn’t inspired you to revisit some of your favourite movies, the talented actors, directors, and writers celebrated during this season’s festivals are sure to do so.

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