This year the Twin Cities Black Film Festival (TCBFF) will take place on both sides of the river. The annual four-day festival of films and shorts is set for October 12-15.
“I’m super excited” of this year’s lineup, exclaimed TCBFF Founder-Director Natalie Morrow in a recent MSR interview. As in previous years, Morrow worked hard to present as much local talent a possible — especially first-timers — in hopes that the fest will serve as a springboard for cinematic success for the filmmakers.
The film selection process “is rigorous… [and] strives to bring the best of cinema,” noted the festival website about the volume of films sent in for consideration. Morrow admits to giving local filmmakers as much consideration as possible: “I really try to show [locals] the love because we have so few Black filmmakers that have submitted to us,” she said.
“I think we managed to get all of them” on the schedule, said Morrow on selecting locally-based filmmakers. All total, “We are showing close to 40-45 films during those four days,” she said. The hard-hitting film subjects include sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and college rape involving a female student and a star athlete. “We are going to try to cram” in all of them, Morrow confirmed.
The 15th annual TCBFF kicks off on October 12 at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) with “An Evening with Actor Cory Hardrict.” The evening includes a screening of Destined, the 2016 film starring Hardrict (All Eyez on Me), who plays dual roles. “It’s a super cool film…with a twist at the end,” said Morrow. The actor is expected to participate in a post-film Q&A after the screening.
MIA is one of the festival’s sponsors along with HBO, Sony and Microsoft among others.
Prior to Destined, scheduled for 7 pm, the evening will feature four short films, including a selection by local high school student Melissa Moua, winner of TCBFF/EDU Festival’s “Emerging Filmmaker of Color;” E.G. Bailey’s New Neighbors starring Sha’ Cage, and offerings from Dewar McGhee and Dre Pierre.
“We have a lot of shorts,” said Morrow of the October 13 line up at FilmNorth (formerly IFP Minnesota) at 550 Vandalia St #120, in St Paul. The annual TCBFF fashion show and after party will also be held October 13 at Can Can Wonderland in St. Paul (755 Prior Ave.)
The fest will highlight a film about sickle cell, and Not Black Enough, a documentary that deals with class warfare within the Black community on October 14 (11 am — 5 pm), at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC).
The festival will close with films screened at the Radisson Red Hotel, 609 S. 3rd Street in downtown Minneapolis on October 15 beginning at 2 pm.
Morrow’s goal this year is to spread the local films throughout the four-day event “to really show the love of Minnesota filmmakers,” she stressed. “[The festival offers] some real good stuff. I’m happy with that.”
Morrow, when asked about the embrace of diversity at both this year’s Oscars and Emmys award shows, said perhaps Blacks are now starting to get recognized. “We always love Shonda Rhimes” but there are other Black artists whose work deserves notice as well — Mara Brock Akli and Issa Rae are two examples, she noted.
“I think that Black filmmakers, Black actors and Black writers have been doing phenomenal jobs. However, it is now starting to turn the corner,” observed Morrow. The industry “is looking for shows that are different and meet people where they are at right now,” she said.
Finally, Morrow’s long-range plan is to have her own mini-theatre to host the festival and other related events, similar to a couple of existing venues in the area, she disclosed.
“The plan is we are looking for a space,” concluded Morrow. “Somebody told me it would be the first Black-owned movie theatre here in the Twin Cities and in Minnesota.”
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Charles Hallman is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org