As part of our Black History Month programming, we invited Black film festival programmers to recommend a short film they have discovered through their work that responds to our theme: Celebrating Black Creativity in Cinema. All of these are available to view online… Enjoy!

Directors: Topaz Jones, Jason Sondock, Simon Davis (US 2021) 34 min.

“I saw this documentary short film at the Hamptons International Film Festival in 2021. Besides the film’s abstract poster and eye-catching title, I didn’t know what to expect from this film. But when the end credits rolled, I knew whatever I had just experienced was rare. How can I describe it? It’s the type of film where it’s not what the story is about, but how it got there. A classic not by definition but by example. I was blown away by the film’s lyrical style, playful tone, and the ease of the directors’ ability to communicate with their audience. It simply holds you captivated from A-Z.” – Danielle Owens, Mill Valley Film Festival Programming Coordinator

Director: A.V. Rockwell (US 2018) 19 min.

“In 2019 I lead the programming effort at Sundance for their K-12 education screenings. I’ll never forget coming across a beautiful short film called Feathers written and directed by A.V. Rockwell, I think about this film all the time. Anyone who knows my curating style understands my appreciation for coming-of-age stories specifically when young Black kids feel like they are free in the narrative. Feathers is more complicated than this though. Rockwell’s stunning visuals can’t shake a consistent intimation of trouble which is likely the very point of this piece. Please watch and feel it out for yourself. As far as A.V. Rockwell, her feature A Thousand and One won the Grand Jury prize for U.S. dramatic at Sundance this year! I’m personally looking forward to seeing more from her imagination in the future. Feathers, at least, haunts me. – Shakira Refos, Education Outreach Manager  – California Film Institute | Associate Programmer Documentaries – Tribeca Film Festival

Director: Kibwe Tavares (UK/Tanzania 2013) 17 min.

“I first saw the short film Jonah, by Kibwe Tavares, at the Black Harvest Film Festival in Chicago back in 2013. I don’t remember anything about the other shorts that played alongside it but this one I remember in detail. The plot is very simple, two friends have their lives upended after they take a photo of a giant fish. One of the things that hooked me from the beginning of the film was the main character Mbwana. I found his actor to be very charismatic and I was drawn in wanting to know what his fate would be. The character Mbwana was my introduction to Daniel Kaluuya who a decade later is one of my favorite actors currently working in Hollywood. In addition to the great acting the film is visually appealing with a humorous beat throughout.” – Bri’anna Moore, Programming Associate, DCEFF

Directors: Topaz Jones, Jason Sondock, Simon Davis (US 2021) 34 min.

“I’m fortunate to know and have been in community with director Vashni Korin while she was in New Orleans for a period of time. Her lyrical short documentary YOU CAN’T STOP SPIRIT is an intimate look at the Baby Doll Ladies, an ensemble of Black women who have upheld Mardi Gras masking traditions for many years connected to sacred spiritual practices of the African diaspora. The screening at the 2021 New Orleans Film Festival was a particularly special moment as these women got to see themselves celebrated by not only the filmmaking, which was shrouded in so much love and admiration for them and the culture, but also the audience that night. In YOU CAN’T STOP SPIRIT, Korin understands that this is a culture that has never sought or needed outside validation. She embraced these women, they embraced her in return, and as a result, we all got to share in this moment of pride and celebration. That’s how you find beauty and power in cinematic practice and showcase.” – Zandashé Brown, Writer/Director, Festival Programmer









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