The Texas Black Film Festival takes up residence Thursday through Saturday at the Studio Movie Grill in Dallas. If you are interested in films that examine the black experience, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more wide-ranging offering – everything from documentaries to features to shorts.
On Wednesday afternoon, I caught up with festival director David Small, who says his budget may be small, but, “I invite anyone to look at our collection of films and compare it to any other festival.”
Here’s more of what he had to say about the festival’s offerings this year:
So is there a particular film or films that you are especially excited to be showing?
There are a few films. One film is Gospel Hill, directed by Giancarlo Esposito. It stars Angela Basset, Danny Glover, Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson and Nia Long. Angela is in a fight to save her community – that’s kind of the gist of the film.
Another film, produced by Dallasite Mark Young – a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School – stars Louis Gosset Jr. and is titled The Least Among You. It’s a powerful, true story about a young guy who is the first to integrate an all white seminary.
I’m really proud of the fact that our collection of films is certainly the best collection of African-American films in the state, probably in the South.
The festival’s Web site says that the event is “programmed for family entertainment and inspired by the African-American experience.” Is it true that all of the films are family-friendly, and what made you decide to take the festival in that direction?
Most all the films are family-friendly – there are a couple where language is a caution.
Our festival tries to serve a two-fold purpose. From an industry standard, films that are positive depictions of African Americans that otherwise haven’t enjoyed a theatrical release, we want to make them available. The audience as a whole has a very limited menu of positive depictions of blacks in film. We don’t show the Boyz N the Hood genre of film. Rather than say what we don’t show, I’ll tell you what we do show. There are many people who are anxious to see these positive images and great stories. It runs the whole gamut from romantic to comedy to historical narratives to documentaries. We also want to support filmmakers who make those films. The first year of the festival, the best overall film was by a Polish director [Piotr Kajstura’s When They Could Fly]. That’s interesting that a Polish filmmaker would win the Texas Black Film Festival. But he did a great emancipation film. I’m proud of the fact that we were the first fest to give that film a shot, and it went on to win dozens of awards. So we were right on the mark.
This year you are honoring AFI Dallas senior programmer James Faust. What about James exemplifies the qualities you like to exhibit with the festival?
Once again, we’re committed to supporting those who break stereotypes. James is committed to those exact same ideals. His impact on the independent films that are shown in Dallas is undeniable. I mean, he programs AFI, and I feel that the films that he determines to exhibit at AFI that depict African Americans do so with great dignity.
Tickets for the Texas Black Film Festival are sold in two-hour blocks for $8 each, with day and festival passes available. To purchase tickets, visit the festival’s Web site.