The DC Black Film Festival returns on Thursday, August 16, 2018, with a kick-off event at the Capitol Hill Hotel before the film screenings begin at The Miracle Theatre. Over the course of its three-day run, the DC BFF will host viewings of features and documentaries short and long, workshops, and discussions intended to provoke thoughtful discussion.
Of the myriad of choices available, there are six films to keep an eye out for during the festival, provided in non-chronological order.
The Girl With No Brain
Science-fiction short The Girl with No Brain from writer/director Royce Adkins does more in its runtime than most long-form features. Using a general reference to cephalic disorders as a starting point, Girl doesn’t just explore what it means to rely on technology, it’s an exploration of identity, self-awareness, adulthood, autonomy, and more. Lead actress Rachael Anderson does quite a bit with very little, which – when combined with what the narrative pulls off – leads to a compelling and thoughtful film.
The Wedding Scene
Movie-within-a-movie The Wedding Scene by director Dan Levy Dagerman and writer Savannah Kopp hilariously explores every screenwriter’s nightmare – when the characters of the story have a better sense of their truth than the creator. There’s no high concept here, just a slow, exponentially growing mutiny as the cast overtakes the writer/director’s vision. What’s particularly refreshing is that the slow escalation of events occurs naturally, making the comedic moments feel spontaneous and inspired.
A simple story executed very well, Odyssey is the tale of a rider’s journey to get home via a shareriding service that goes to unexpected places due to the other riders hopping in-and-out of the car. Sometimes simpler is better, and director/editor/screenwriter Serge Delpierre’s approach to Odyssey ensures that we feel all the emotionality of Lynn Chavis’s performance.
Following George Mason University student Austin Harrison, director Jennifer Lewis’s documentary Austin’s Voice explores the duality of every Black citizen in the United States. Caught between a state of belonging and otherness, there’s an ever-present vigilance that Austin must adhere to in order to make others more comfortable in his presence, to ensure that authorities – re: police – don’t see him as a threat, and that the things that define him are of his own making. Austin’s Voice is as much an exploration of identity as it is a singular example of the struggles of Black youth. A poignant and timely film that shouldn’t be missed.
Without question, each state within our country has an aspect they call their own, even when there’s a clear overlap of interest. Texas BBQ versus North Carolina. East coast hip-hop versus West Coast. Soda versus Pop. It’s only the discerning palate that can clearly identify the cultural notes inherent in each. So applies United Skates by directing partners Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown, a documentary that examines the cultural significance of the roller rink to the Black community. It’s more than a place to skate. It’s a place to congregate, dance on wheels, and gather together in a unified form of self-expression. Whether skaters engage in a little Baltimore “Snapping,” ATL’s “Jackknife,” St. Louis’s “Ballroom,” Detroit’s “Open House,” Philly’s “Fast Backwards,” Chi-town’s “Underground,” and so much more, each of these styles offer up local flavor which form a united skate.
Writer/director Darien Sills-Evans’s One Bedroom is a tale of two stories: a love story reaching its end and the gentrification of Brooklyn. Though they seem like disparate concepts, within the confines of Sills-Evans’s story, there’s an underlying idea of a resistance to move on because memory, or perhaps fear, wants to keep us locked in with the devil we know. There are certainly a great deal of downsides to gentrification, but that’s not the focus of One Bedroom; rather, it’s an underlying current – a metaphor – for two people miserable together, yet unhappy apart.
For more information on the DC Black Film Festival, be sure to visit their official website for all screening information.
DC Black Film Festival Mission:
The DC Black Film Festival (DCBFF) is dedicated to exhibiting quality film, web series and television content by and about people of African descent. We support emerging artists striving to add diversity to the images, tastemakers and storytellers working in the entertainment industry. The DCBFF is committed to playing an integral role in discovering, celebrating and helping films and filmmakers by bringing them to the attention of the industry, media and public.