By Lee Hubbard
When Ave Montague started the San Francisco Black Film Festival it was an adjunct to the San Francisco Juneteenth festival.
Thirteen years later the festival, which takes place June 17-19, has become a major player in the United States film industry for black filmmakers, screenwriters and actors.
The festival opens with Mario Van Peebles’ film, “Things Fall apart” which stars Curtis “50 Cents” Jackson, Ray Liotta and Lynn Whitfield. The film deals with a football player who gets cancer and the effects on how his sickness impacts his family and community.
“We’re looking forward to having as many of our stars as possible at the San Francisco Black Film Festival walking the Red Carpet,” said Randall Emmett, producer of “Things Fall Apart.”
Kali Ray, co-director of the San Francisco Black Film Festival, took over the reins of the San Francisco Black Film Festival after the unexpected and untimely demise of his mother and festival founder Ave Montague.
Another Mario Van Peebles film. “Black, White and Blues” which stars Michael Clarke Duncan and Melvin Van Peebles, will be shown.
San Francisco’s Kevin Epps will debut his latest documentary “Straight Outta Hunters Point 2,” where he revisits Hunters Point and looks at the state of the community and the social, political and economic issues that plague area.
The “10-10 Gotta Win” film, made by San Francisco native Jacquie Taliaferro, will be shown. He recently returned from premiering his film at the Cannes International Film Festival. Taliaferro’s film takes a look at the San Francisco District 10 race for Supervisor and how it parallels themes of access to power, economic stability, education and gentrification in San Francisco.
“What is happening in District 10 is also happening in other black communities across the country,” said Taliaferro. “We are witnessing economic exclusion, limited educational opportunities and gentrification. Most of the time gentrification moves so slowly that most people don’t notice it, unless you are in it. It is not as blatant as bulldozers in South Africa, but it is just as effective.”
Black and Brown relations will also be looked at in film as actor Shabaka Henley and his Latino wife Paulina Sahagun, will be on hand with their son Miles Henley, in their joint project, “90404 Changing.” Directed and written by Michael Barnard, the film looks at relationships between Blacks and Latinos as the Santa Monica, California community experiences redevelopment and change.
Bay Area families involved in the film industry will be honored. They include the Lange Family, Director/Producer Michael Lange, Actor/Director Ted Lange and writer Jerri Lange.
Michael recently launched a play in the Bay Area and The Lorraine Hansberry Theater, recently honored Ted. Mother Jerri Lange has been involved in the promotion of Black female writers and her just recently “Jerri, A Black Woman’s Life in the Media.”
Venues used for the film festival will include the Lumiere Theater, the Jazz Heritage Center and the Delancey Street screening house. The cost for the screenings range from $10 to $15 dollars. Tickets can be purchased at www.sfbff.org or www.brownpapertickets.com.
There will be a red carpet ceremony and VIP reception for the filmmakers, actors and celebrities from 5 to 7 pm at the Jazz Heritage Center at 1320 Fillmore Street. The opening night films featured will include “Things Fall Apart” and “Straight Outta Hunters Point: 2,” and they will be shown at the Lumiere Theater, at 1572 California Street, beginning at 8 pm.
“It is important that the work of Ave Montague continues,” said Jackie Wright,. “People of color need to manage the images about their community, to counter the onslaught of negative images found daily in the media.”