You might expect the Texas Black Film Festival, which kicks off tonight at the Studio Movie Grill in Dallas, to focus on the black experience. And, of course, it does. But this year, the festival is also showing films that look at the intersections between blacks and other cultures.
One block of four shorts, which screens Thursday night at 8, is a collaboration between the Texas Black Film Festival and the Vistas Film Festival, which focuses on Latin films. Among the films are Memoirs of a Black Latina, a portrait of four women looking at their “triple minority status,” and Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ile Aiye, a doc about women competing for the title of Ebony Goddess in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil – the largest urban black city outside Africa.
TBFF director David Small says the partnership with Vistas came about through his day job as an entertainment attorney. Small had long admired fellow Dallas attorney Frank Hernandez, who was the first Hispanic judge in Dallas County and also the founder of Vistas. They got to talking and decided that it made sense to co-brand some of each festival’s programming. The idea is to continue these joint ventures, which they will call “Bridges” screenings.
“What we’re trying to communicate is that we’re all connected,” Small said by phone last week. “That’s the big thing. The connection of the community to everyone else is the important message.”
If you roll through the TBFF schedule, you’ll find plenty of other films that aren’t just “black” films. The most prominent is Herskovitz: At the Heart of Blackness, a documentary about the Jewish anthropologist credited with bringing the field of African-American studies into the field of academia. It screens Thursday at 6, just ahead of the Bridges screenings and is co-sponsored by the Dallas Holocaust Museum. Also on the list is Dream Mali, a doc about people from different cultural backgrounds communicating through art. It runs Friday at 2 along with another art film, an animated short called O Pintor de Ceos (The Painter of Skies).
The tagline of this year’s festival is “Peace Through Independent Film.” Judging by the films, it looks like TBFF’s programmers are out to prove that’s possible.