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2020 Seattle Black Film Festival streams this weekend

Delayed and moved online by the COVID-19 crisis, the Seattle Black Film Festival begins Friday with a streamed schedule of screenings and events. The delay makes for a timely arrival of Langston’s annual festival after weeks of Black Lives Matter protests in Seattle and also means a busy weekend for film as the city gets a slow, cooler start start to summer.

No tickets are required to participate in all festival events, but donations to Langston are encouraged. You can find a full schedule and more information at langstonseattle.org.

While the online experience might lack some of the social aspects of attending the festival in person, an online film festival can match much of the urgency of making your way through a packed schedule of screenings and speakers. The event is streamed as a live festival — not an on demand archive:

The Seattle Black Film Festival (SBFF) kicks off on Friday, July 10th and runs through Sunday, July 12th. The three-day festival, shortened from the typical four days, will feature its signature program of film screenings, panel discussions with filmmakers and community members and workshops to get you thinking and living Black cinematic brilliance! The festival weekend of communion and networking traditionally animates the hallways of the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle’s Central District during the month of April, but the festival was pushed back to July and moved online as the impacts of COVID-19 took shape.

The 2020 festival features over 30 official selection films “from across the diaspora, including films from Nigeria, Brazil, and the United Kingdom.”

Festival highlights:

• The festival kicks off Friday, July 10th at 6:00 pm with a Director’s Lens Happy Hour with this year’s official selection directors joining us from across the country to present their Black and Brilliant shorts. Tune in to the stream to hear insights on this year’s films and what’s new in Black independent filmmaking from the source. Get answers to your questions then settle in for a curated evening of this year’s Black and brilliant shorts selection, including work from local filmmakers Nicole Pouchet (writer for Amazon Prime’s “Strowlers”), Jeremiah Williams, D.J. Walker, Nifemi Madarikan and Kamari Bright.

• The Storyteller’s Toolkit (Masterclass) Saturday, July 11th at 2:00 pm. SBFF’s Masterclass features host, Shannan E. Johnson, leading a discussion on culture, craft, and career strategies. For this exclusive live event, special guests, writer/director Patrik-Ian Polk (Being Mary Jane; Punks ) and Numa Perrier ( JEZEBEL [Writer/Director]; Queen Sugar [Director]; Black & Sexy TV [Creator]), will share a detailed yet easy-to-follow outline (“toolkit”) to serve as a tangible resource for artists creating content for the streaming, film, and broadcast worlds.

• Media literacy in the age of Black Lives MatterSBFF curator, educator and librarian Zola Mumford will lead a session that blows open your perception of Blacks in the media, andgives you the tools to consume savvy.

• Explore the people and places of Seattle’s historically Black Central District through a series of youth “crash” films. For the third year, Seattle Black Film Festival has partnered with Seattle International Film Festivalto host a series of filmmaking workshops and camps. Highlights of these vibrantly creative works by youth aged 9-12 will be shown Saturday, July 11th at 4pm.

• London-based director Veronica McKenzie joins us to present her feature film Nine Nights. Winner of the 2019 Pan African Film Festival Narrative Feature Director Award, herwoman-centered narrative explores the intersection of youth, tradition and grief.

• This year, Blackpast.org, the website dedicated to providing a global audience with reliable and accurate information on the history of African American and of people of African ancestry around the world, has provided links back to their site; providing deeper information on the subjects addressed in some of our 2020 official selection films. Watch for links in the program listing on langstonseattle.org, or learn more below.

The festival usually fills the Central District’s Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute every April, but this year’s festival was pushed back to July and moved online as the impacts of COVID-19 took shape. Organizers are partnering with Seattle-based online film screening and music platform Couch-a-thon to bring the festival onto your home screens.


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