By Indie Means Necessary.

August 4-7, 2016


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Check out this year’s trailer featuring music by Blitz the Ambassador!



Read interviews with filmmakers and reviews of this year’s films.


Panels & Workshops

BlackStar Film Festival workshops are an opportunity to connect with the artists and further your craft.


This Migration Business

Filmmakers focusing on storytelling about patterns of movement throughout the global south and the structures that have formed them, will both complicate and deepen our understanding of their work and others.

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Master Class

Zeinabu irene Davis and Christine Turner

The filmmakers will discuss Davis’ most recent documentary feature SPIRITS OF REBELLION, Turner’s short narrative YOU CAN GO, and the legacy of black women filmmakers in independent cinema.

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Indie Narrative Producing Spotlight

Join us for a special conversation between directors Heidi Saman, Matthew Cherry, and Neil Drumming, as they reflect upon collaborating with the same independent producer.

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Brown Bag Lunch

Sabrina Schmidt Gordon & Tahir Jetter

Accomplished filmmakers Gordon (BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez) and Jetter (How to be a Douchebag) will share with the BlackStar Youth participants about their training, work and creative process. Registration is required and limited to filmmakers ages 22 and under.

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By Indie Means

Directors Matthew Cherry (9 Rides) and Anisia Uzeyman (Dreamstates) will discuss using the iPhone 6 to shoot their narrative feature films and explore its impact on their budget, visual style, actors, and overall production experience.

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#Black Excellence Tour

Leeway Foundation presents this special opportunity with CeCe McDonald and Joshua Allen, who travel the country work-shopping, speaking and organizing around issues of race, gender, sexuality and class while, centering those most marginal in their work.

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From Last Year

Check out the gallery from our 2015 festival


Film Lineup

This year we present over 60 films—a carefully curated selection of some of the best independent films made by and about people of African descent and global indigenous communities.

View the scheduleMeet the Jurors

Feature Narrative

Lambadina (Night Light)

A journey that opens in the Addis Ababa and ends in Los Angeles, depicting the challenges of establishing life in a foreign land.

Feature Documentary

Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema from UCLA

Documenting critically acclaimed yet relatively unknown black filmmakers and media artists known as the Los Angeles Rebellion.

Short Narrative


A modern Romeo and Juliet meet on a city bus. Life is great when you’re in love. However, unfortunately your fate has already been sealed.


Reluctantly Queer

A young Ghanaian man struggles to reconcile his love for his mother with his love for same-sex desire amid the increased tensions incited by same-sex politics in Ghana.

Short Documentary

Two Cities

Locked inside the mind and memory of Dr. Mtangulizi Sanyika, reflecting what it means to be part of the displaced New Orleans population in Houston.

Short Narrative


After being beaten up and humiliated by a group of tough kids, an awkward and quirky pre-teen finds something out that inspires him to stand up to himself.

Feature Narrative

9 Rides

On the busiest night of the year, an Uber driver in Los Angeles gets life-changing news.

Join Us

For the 5th celebration of cinema focused on work by and about people of color in a global context.

Latest News

August 31, 2016

In case you missed the special public conversation on black aesthetics between legendary director and professor Haile Gerima and filmmaker/scholar John L. Jackson, Jr., during the festival, or if you were there and would like to relive it, you can watch the conversation online. The discussion of politics, love, black aesthetics, philosophy, self-definition, and depictions of the […]

July 25, 2016

BlackStar Film Festival 2016 Photography Exhibit Opening: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 7:00pm to 9:00pm (Members Preview: 5:30pm to 6:30pm) On view from July 26 to August 7, 2016 at International House of Philadelphia, 3701 Chestnut Street in University City. Rashid Zakat and Lendl Tellington present portraits of filmmakers, scholars, and cultural workers.This exhibit expands upon […]

June 20, 2016

The 2016 BlackStar Film Festival is proud to announce our festival launch event on Sunday July 3, as part of Free First Sundays at The Barnes Foundation! Join festival director Maori Karmael Holmes for a Behind the Screen conversation with renowned filmmaker/entrepreneurs Numa Perrier and Dennis Dortch (co-founders of BLACK&SEXY TV) on the craft and […]

Sponsors & Partners

The 2016 BlackStar Film Festival is generously supported by the Wyncote Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Streampix, Ford Foundation | JustFilms, Barra Foundation, PECO, University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, PNAA Foundation, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Lomax Family Foundation, Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, Hess Foundation, Fox Rothschild LLP, Korbel & Sonoma-Cutrer, Leeway Foundation, Middle East Center University of Pennsylvania, Generocity, Firelight Media, Okayplayer, PhillyCAM, WURD, and individual donors; as well as a gracious network of partners including All Ages Productions, The Barnes Foundation, Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, International House Philadelphia, Johnny Brenda’s, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Leonard Pearlstein Gallery at Drexel University, Moxy PR, and Scribe Video Center.

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