Keep Austin Reel: Capital City Black Film Festival

The third annual Capital City Black Film Festival is back and better than ever Aug. 13 to Aug. 15 at Austin’s Palmer Events Center. The screens will feature more than 60 films in two days, with both feature-length and short-films in nearly every genre: romance, action, drama, comedy, horror, documentary, post-apocalyptic.

At $99 for VIP access to the opening reception, all films and a Saturday night after-party at the sultry Brass House Jazz Club, this year’s festival is the right price. One-day and film-only passes are available for less. Saturday includes a teen film screening and workshop.

Events kick-off Thursday night with the Harlem Lights! reception, which will be adorned with rare photographs, film clips, live music and local actors. Austin-based actor and producer Julius Tennon (Small Soldiers, Dazed and Confused, Faster) will host a presentation by the Austin History Center celebrating Austin’s Harlem Theatre and Blacks in film, along with a presentation of the classic filmCabin in the Sky, starring Lena Horne.

The festival’s film lineup is powerfully revealing: Black Film is real, and it means depth, variety, relationships, beauty, and smart perspectives. The line-up explodes any notion that Black Film is a synonym for Tyler Perry.  At the same time, these are not (white) films with Black characters. There’s noticeable diversity among the actors, but the films are bound by a black thread. Also clear is the presence of women as writers, producers, directors and actors in Black Film—and not just in a few films or a few kinds of film. They are interspersed throughout from top to bottom, just like in the real world!

Heavy-hitters in the film line-up this year include blackhats and Freeway: Crack in the System. blackhats(director, LaRon Austin) world premiere is Friday, Aug. 14, at 8 p.m. and is a cyber-thriller about a hot-tempered former bounty hunter whose newly tranquil life as a Fugitive Recovery Agent is threatened by gamers, underground hackers, hired assassins and FBI agents.

Freeway is a documentary (director, Marc Levin) about Freeway Rick Ross, who was the centerpiece of the story in which Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Webb revealed to the world that the U.S. CIA was complicit in distribution of the crack cocaine that destroyed Black neighborhoods across the country. Ross was a small-time Los Angeles hustler who, within a span of four years, became the distributer of multi-million dollar shipments of cocaine around the country. Webb’s story is the subject of the 2014 feature film, Kill the Messenger, in which Jeremy Renner portrayed Webb.

Capital City Black Film Festival is the brain-child of University of Texas at Austin graduate Winston Williams. Williams also graduated from Leadership Austin, an annual program with a curriculum that focuses on local issues, diversity and leadership. Williams and the festival’s creative director, Anoa Monsho, have both been featured on NPR’sIn Black America.


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