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Denton Black Film Festival closes out an exciting third year

Denton Black Film Festival closes out an exciting third year

The lines outside the Campus Theater grow as guests wait to be let into the screening of "Jerico" on Saturday, January 28. "Jerico" was one of 43 films being shown this weekend as a part of the Denton Black Film Festival. Katie Jenkins

Denton Black Film Festival closes out an exciting third year
January 30
13:55 2017

The annual Denton Black Film Festival, which took place from Jan. 26-29, curated a wide array of film and art for their highly anticipated third year.

“Our first year we had 800 guests, then 2,500 and now this year we were expecting 4,000 to 5,000,” festival director Harry Eaddy said.

With 43 film screenings and numerous panels, performances and workshops, the festival provided a jam-packed weekend filled with entertainment and examples of black culture.

“[We did] about 50% more events than we did last year,” Eaddy said.

When it came to creating the lineup of films, Eaddy said the festival coordinators typically curate films from other festivals across the country that are centered around black culture. This year, filmmakers were given the opportunity to submit their work for consideration to be screened.

DBFF kicked off Thursday by screening the opening film “I Am Not Your Negro,” an Academy Award-nominated documentary based on the unfinished manuscript of renowned African-American author James Baldwin.

The documentary focused around Baldwin’s memories of activists Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

The double-screening at Silver Cinemas in the Golden Triangle Mall quickly sold out and was the first showing of “I Am Not Your Negro” in Texas. The documentary will hit theaters everywhere Feb. 3.

Another highly anticipated film screening was “Jerico”, which showed Saturday at Campus Theatre. “Jerico” chronicles the spontaneous adventure of two black best friends in Minnesota at the turn of the Civil Rights Movement.

The political, action-packed comedy also sold out well before its screening.

“I Am Not Your Negro” and “Jerico” both seemed to evoke positive responses from audience members.

“[‘I Am Not Your Negro’] really makes you think and want to ask questions,” said Marquis Nuby of Nuby Pediatrics, one of over 15 local sponsors for the festival. “When we can listen to someone’s story without a biased mind, we can learn.”

The information desk at Campus Theater during a screening for the Denton Black Film Festival, with some of the 43 titles from the event gleaming behind. Katie Jenkins

Reanna Rodas, who was volunteering at the screening of “Jerico,” is a member of the African American Association at Lewisville High School and was excited to help integrate and celebrate black culture.

“It has an impact on our history. People should know what black people have gone through,” Rodas, 16, said.

A block of student short films was screened Friday.

“These types of films are very educational, not just entertainment,” said Micah Autry, a 23-year-old UNT graduate whose short film screened Friday. “I think it can really benefit people to see these kinds of films and learn from them.”

The DBFF staff introduced many new showcases and events in 2017. This year marked the festival’s first comedy showcase, which took place Friday and featured comedians Derrick Kenner and Alfred Kainga.

New panels and workshops also allowed festival-goers to learn directly from filmmakers and businesspeople in the industry.

The Women in Entertainment Panel on Saturday, which featured DBFF National Chair Valeisha Butterfield-Jones, focused on female empowerment and staying true to a personal brand in a competitive industry.

The Social Justice Panel, which included producers Takia “Tizzi” Green and Lyah Beth LeFlore, presented a dialogue about social issues regarding the black community.

A poetry slam and two nights of open-mic spoken word rounded up the non-film components of the festival.

DBFF also paid homage to UNT by headlining an alumna, Ashleigh Smith. Smith dazzled her audience at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center Saturday with her rich voice, performing jazz songs from her recent album, “Sunkissed.”

Eaddy said Denton’s population size and demographic make it a perfect fit to host a film festival that honors a minority population.

“We would like to be a Sundance-like festival, meaning that we bring a number of collaboratives together and create something that’s fairly unique,” Eaddy said. “We think what would be good is to do that in a smaller venue. With the two universities, people are very open to diversity, and we think that’s a good idea to have this festival in Denton.”

Eaddy appreciates the fact that DBFF, which is the largest black film festival in North Texas, differs from other film festivals.

“A lot of our films are intertwined,” Eaddy said. “When you look at them, there’s a common thread. Then we look at that common thread and have discussions. I think you really have a much deeper experiential sense of who these people are. In many cases, I think the audience forgets about if the character’s black, green or pink. It doesn’t matter. They’re just looking at this quality film.”

Featured Image: The lines outside the Campus Theater grow as guests wait to be let into the screening of “Jerico” on Saturday, Jan. 28. “Jerico” was one of 43 films being shown this weekend as a part of the Denton Black Film Festival. Katie Jenkins

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