Firelight Media x BlackStar Film Festival

Firelight Media is proud to be a sponsor of the 2021 BlackStar Film Festival, an annual celebration of the visual and storytelling traditions of the African diaspora and global communities of color — showcasing films by Black, Brown, and Indigenous people from around the world.

Image via BlackStar Film Festival.

The BlackStar Film Festival is presented by BlackStar Projects, the premier organization celebrating visionary Black, Brown, and Indigenous film and media artists. The 2021 Festival will run August 4 through 8, 2021, with the Blackstar Pitch event taking place on August 3.

Firelight Media and our community of Firelight-supported filmmakers will be well-represented at the festival, including in the film program and at BlackStar’s Pitch Session. Check the Festival website to confirm details, RSVP for the free panel discussions, and to purchase tickets for the virtual screenings.

Read on to discover more about Firelight Media’s participation in this year’s BlackStar Film Festival! (All listings are in Eastern Standard Time.)

Tuesday, August 3 , 12–2:30pm— BlackStar Pitch Session

Firelight Media’s own Chloë Walters-Wallace will join the judges panel for the BlackStar Pitch Session, while Monika Navarro served as a coach for the filmmakers. Filmmakers will pitch their short nonfiction projects in front of a virtual audience and a panel of judges to receive feedback and have an opportunity to win an artist grant from WarnerMedia OneFifty.


Wednesday, August 4, 8pm — Opening Night Party co-presented with Firelight Media

If you’re in the Philadelphia area, be sure to roll through the BlackStar Film Festival’s opening night party Revival! with Rashid Zakat, DJ lil’ dave, and Oluwafemi live at Bartram’s Garden.


Thursday, August 5, 10am-12pm — ‘Death Is Our Business’ Virtual Screening

FRONTLINE/Firelight Fellow and Documentary Lab alum Jacqueline Olive’s Death Is Our Business shines a light on how the coronavirus has rocked the Black community’s cherished cultural practices in New Orleans — a city that is no stranger to loss and grief. While revealing the racial disparities of the virus’s toll, the documentary film goes inside two of the oldest Black-owned funeral homes in the city, offering an intimate look at rituals that are specific to how many Black Americans funeralize their loved ones and the troubling ways that the pandemic has impacted them.


Thursday, August 5, 2pm through Friday, August 6 — ‘This Body’ Virtual Screening

Filmmaker Zac Manuel’s documentary short This Body explores the fraught relationship between African Americans and the medical industry. As Sydney Hall participates in an experimental coronavirus vaccine trial, she and her loved ones confront the history of medical abuse and experimentation upon Black bodies. The documentary is part of Firelight Media’s Hindsight series with Reel South, the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), and WORLD Channel.


Thursday, August 5, 2–3pm — Mental Health and Filmmaking

Documentary Lab alum Lyric Cabral will join this free, live panel discussion that will orbit around some of the ethical, culturally informed practices that directors dealing with trauma and mental wellbeing must consider in seeking to prevent further harm as they use their craft as a site for repair.


Friday, August 6, 2pm through Sunday, August 7 — ‘Homeroom’ Virtual Screening

Documentary Lab alum Peter Nicks’s Homeroom follows Oakland High School’s class of 2020 as it confronts the developing pandemic while fighting to eliminate the school district’s police force amid nationwide demands for systemic change. The film is nominated for Best Feature Documentary at the Festival.


Saturday, August 7, 4pm through Sunday, August 8 — ‘Video Visit’ Screening

Documentary Lab alum and In the Making filmmaker Malika Zouhali-Worrall’s documentary short film Video Visit documents the scores of people who each week visit the Brooklyn Public Library to see their incarcerated loved ones via a free video call. The film tells the story of two mothers and their sons, and the librarians who negotiate daily with the Department of Corrections in an effort to keep the families connected.


Sunday, August 8, 6pm through Monday, August 9 — ‘Madame Pipi’ Virtual World Premiere Screening

Filmmaker Rachelle Salnave’s Madame Pipi follows the lives of Haitian bathroom attendants working the nightclubs in Miami. Despite the rising cost of living and now the uncertainty of COVID-19 shutting down nightlife, their remittances from tips contribute to more than one-third of the GDP in Haiti.


Learn more about Firelight Media and our programs here.

Learn more about BlackStar Projects here.



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Firelight Media

Firelight Media

Firelight Media produces documentary films, supports nonfiction filmmakers of color, and cultivates audiences for their work. We’re #changingthestory.