6th Annual BlackStar Film Festival 2017

On Saturday, August 5th 2017, I jumped on the bus from Chinatown (NYC) and took a 90 minute ride to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I went there for the day to attend the 6th Annual BLACKSTAR FILM FESTIVAL (@BlackStarFest #BSFF17) *which ran from Aug 3rd-6th*

I got to Philly a little after 2:30p.m and figured I’d indulge in a Philly Cheese Steak. WHY NOT! To walk it off, since I love to stay in shape, I decided to walk from the bus station area – North 11th St. to South 37th St, which was my destination. In total, with the added detours, the 30+ blocks (or so) walk took me 45 minutes.

I arrived at LIGHTBOX FILM CENTER (3701 Chestnut St, 19104) early so this allowed me to look, network and SHOP BLACK with some of the Vendors who were on-sight, inside and outside of the Venue.


Doors opened and it was amazing to see so many people who came out to support the talented creators, actors, writers, producers and all those involved in the (4) Short Films we were about to experience. The turn out was great.

EMMETT STILL was the 1st short narrative we watched, written and directed by, Fahamu Pecou (@FahamuPecou). The title alone spoke volume. Oddly enough this film had no dialogue. No words were spoken by the characters, however the music played as well as words by Kanye, Killer Mike, even snippets between James Baldwin & William Buckley along with the actions and reactions of the actors told a story about situations we, (Black people, mainly Men of Color) still go through and are still dealing with Today, in 2017.

EMMETT STILL starts off with a deep musical intro as names flashed across the screen of black men, women, boys and girls who have been murdered due to Police brutality, Cruelty. Some names I recognized like, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, and some I didn’t know like Jordan Baker, Jonathan Ferrell, Kimani Gray, Kendrec McDade. This film shows us how quickly things can go wrong in an instant when a black man comes into contact with the police.

As the main character is walking home, he is stopped by a (white) officer. *We can only assume he “Fit the Description…” of a Criminal. Or really, which is most common, Stopped, for No Reason At All* He panics out of fear and his instincts, in today’s world; his 1st reaction is to run… Wrong move! This causes him to be shot.

As if having an out of body experience, he gains strength through music and dance from his ancestors. When he rises, he is a GOD, surrounded by African drums playing and Spiritual dancing. Hes trying to catch his breath. After some time, Mother Earth, as if blowing a kiss, blows breath of Life back into his body.

He awakens once more. Confused As he tries to explain to his girlfriend about what he had just visioned, or was it a Dream?! Hmmm. And As “GOD” (by Fahamu Pecou) is chanting in the the background, explaining “I AM A GOD” and what it means for a Black Man to Be a GOD, it is Chanting over and over, Strong and Proudly, “I Am A GOD! I just Told You Who I Think I Am! But to say you are a GOD,,,” What does that mean to you?

We are Mothers and Fathers, Kings and Queens raising Kings and Queens so we must make sure they understand who they are. The ending message I personally received was, instead of running from the White Man, We have to stand up and let them know they cannot take Our Power! I am Who I Say I Am! I AM A GODdess! STRONG AND POWERFUL. And no one can take that from me. My ancestors died for the (little bit of) Freedom I have and I will not let it have been in vain.

I enjoyed this short film. It will pull deep emotional strings depending on any experience you or someone you know may have had with the police but also reminds us, who we are. Who we must carry ourselves to be. Who spiritually have our backs. Never run from No Man! Face those who try to take your Power away. YOU ARE A GOD!

**I AM GLAD TO BE ABLE TO SHARE THE LINK OF EMMETT STILL for you to see it for yourself when you have 15mins to spare. Big Ups to Maurice Evans (@Moesart10) who did a brilliant job with the Cinematography on this film.


With only a short pause to take in the 1st film, “NEW NEIGHBORS” begins. For 9 minutes we are taken on a reality walk through a mothers fear for her boys lives. Although she takes actions that are unusual and strange even, as a mother of a Black Male, I Ovastand. This film was short and straight to the point of showing the measures a mother of 2 black sons will go through to protect them, especially when they cannot be in her presence at all times.

She takes them door to door in their new, predominantly white neighborhood to meet and greet with their neighbors. As embarrassed as they were, that wasn’t her intentions. She was just trying to keep them alive and out of jail due to “Racial Profiling.” By leaving flyers which had pictures of herself, her boys and family members on the doors of those who did not answer and introduced herself and her boys to the neighbors who did come to the door, she wanted to make them familiar with the new black faces they may start running into. Respectfully and Politely.

In recent stories in the news, there have been black men killed and arrested when they weren’t even intruders. So this story has to be told. Its true to what mothers go through. We must do all we can to keep our children safe when they are not with us. This had to be expressed because its all too real in this day and time. These are conversations we must have. These are fears that will also stop us from wanting to move into safer areas where we can feel safe and assured a random bullet wont fly through our homes but now worry if a white person will kill us just because they feel threatened by our being. Kudos to the director, E.G Bailey (@EGBaileyArtist)

SKETCH began and it takes us on a journey of how easy it is for someone to create an imagine in their mind and how easily it can ruin someones life. One of the main characters, the victim, is a white woman who is attacked and she is describing the perpetrator to the freelance Sketch artist who works for the police department. She is having a hard time with details so he takes out a book of Black Mug Shots of real black people who were arrested in order to provide him with a better description of the attackers’ facial features. Because I have never been in this situation, it made me shake my head and ask myself, ‘does this really happen? Is this how they get victims to describe the person(s) who have harmed them or is it only when it comes to black on white crimes?”

The sketch artist later sees someone who he believes fits the description the woman describes to him earlier. This is after he sees another white woman running before coming across this man. He then feels the need to approach this man although he is not a police officer. The Victim had mentioned a mole and this black man had a mole. Or so he thought. The man seem scared or frustrated which the sketch artist also felt was a bit suspicious. And he had panties in his possession which he explained was a pair his girlfriend had found which is why she, the lady he seen running, was crying. Not because he physically harmed her.

This 13 minute film showed how easily a crumb on your face and innocent yet suspicious actions can cause someone to get the wrong impression. I think the Sketch Artist wanted to believe this man was the criminal even when it became clear he had the wrong guy. He wanted to be the hero to bring this man to justice. He wanted to make a difference by any means necessary. Even if it cost this innocent man his life. This was a film I would have loved to see more of. Job well done by Mariama Diallo who was the Director.

The final short film, written and directed by Stacey Muhammad (@StaceyMuhammad), was titled THE CREED. This one pulled a lot of emotions out of me. I found myself feeling the mother, Khadijah (played by Yolonda Ross @YolondaRoss_Creator), pain for the death of her son. I have never lost a child (Thank GOD) but I have friends who have and I can assure you, I never want to go through it. This film shows how a mother and father can deal with something in their own way although they have eachother to grieve with. The pain a mother feels is much different than the way a father deals with it.

But what do you do when your child is Murdered by the hands of a White Cop, when he, your child, did no wrong, yet, the cop gets off scott free?… Well then there’s That! That Part of unfairness. The feeling of Powerlessness. The reality of how unfair the system is when it comes to Cops killing Black people. This is something that has been going on forever. Its happening so often, it doesn’t even shock or surprise us anymore. I was happy the writer/director didn’t go into scenes of showing when he was murdered.

Stacey Muhammad explained to us in the audience after the film, she was inspired to write this film from a few things. She was in Ferguson (MO) with Micheal Brown’s family at the precinct when it was announced Darren Wilson would not be charged with his death. She heard their audible cries; seen their grief, first hand.

In 2009, she did a Brilliant documentary called: “I Am Sean Bell: Black Boys Speak” (https://youtu.be/UeQJn1jHEJQ) so she spent a lot of time with the Bell family. She has also produced New Specials for BET regarding Police Brutality.

She was also at Eric Garner’s funeral.

So seeing all those parents made her think about some alternatives to what has already been done, movie/film wise. “And all of it is Necessary,” she explains.

This film didn’t show the son being murdered by the cop (played by Ruslan Verkhovsky (@lansky13). It didn’t show the outcome when the father, (played by Akintola Jiboyewa @AKBluez) who seemed helpless and wanted to get revenge so he could somewhat make his wife better, came in direct contact with the cop who murdered their only child… Stacey explained “It wasn’t necessary to show an audience something we see too much of anyway.”

This story was deep. It showed us how parents grieve differently. How a mother can feel so lost. How she can shut down and block everyone out who loves and cares for her when her world comes to an end which is what I imagine loosing a child feels like. Deep down she wants revenge. By an means necessary. In the meantime for some, drugs and alcohol is the simple temporary fix. And for a dad, its a bit different. He feels the need to make it right. The justice system has let him down so he has to take matters into his own hands, right? Isn’t that his job? Isn’t that how he brings justice for his son and honors his wife. He is suppose to be the protector. He will do the time. I love how it ended with the call to his wife which assured her he was ok but we don’t know if he shot and killed the cop… This is another film I would like to see more of. It was an Outstanding piece!

I left the LightBox Film Center with a new anger, a new attitude, a rush to get home and kiss and hug all of my children, especially my son. I felt empowered at the same time. Even hopeful that one day this world would be better for my kids kids. Hopeful that these type of films will be done to open discussions some may not want to talk about. But these are topics we can no longer avoid. Its happening all to often in our communities. To our friends. To the peers of our kids and grand kids. We have to not only tell our kids how not to talk to strangers. We have to now tell them tactics on “How to deal with situations when approached or stopped by police.” We no longer live in a world where its safe to say police will help us. They are now our enemies until proven otherwise. The monsters. And although not all of them are bad, too many of them are so we don’t know when to trust them…

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