We created a Black movie festival in France to tell our community that our stories are valid
By Eye Candy
August 23, 2017
By Lysiane Ngoye (Programmatrice du Festival Black Movie Summer) / AFROPUNK Contributor
Soul of the Festival
Black Movie Summer is a film festival that is currently happening in Paris for its 8th edition. More than just a festival where people come and watch films, the event has become a safe space for our community to gather and we didn’t even see it coming.
What first started as a small reunion with some friends, good food and a few Spike Lee movies has turned into a yearly rendez-vous that now attracts an audience we didn’t expect. The free-entrance event is a place where people from Paris or people just in town for the summer meet and exchange thoughts while listening to some good music, eating good food and just… vibing. A creators market featuring black creatives (Afrikanista), a beauty corner for our special skin and hair (Nadeen Mateky), workshops , live performances, live painting, dj sets with some of Paris dopest artists : everything is made fo people to be dipped into the best afro-urban culture in town.
We wanted to make a festival for people who love cinema and by that occasion highlight our stories and show people that a black human being story on screen can be universal. Not just a bunch of cliches. You’ll be surprised how many films are made by and with black people that we unfortunately don’t get to see.
We like to think of ourself as a platform for people who create those stories, and a bridge between them and an interested audience. We feel like we empower people because they see a group of young black women running things. We have so many stories about how people came to our festival and then were inspired to create their own thing.
DJ Cheetah deejay’d for the first time at our festival last year now she’s piling up gigs around town. Christian Bela, a photographer who took pictures and videos from the festival last year, has screened his first documentary at our fest this year too.
Behind Black Movie Summer stands a small group entirely composed of black women who felt like our stories, black people stories, are told but most of the time unheard or unseen. By screening short films starring and/or directed by black people from all around the world, we wanted people to realize that we’re a multitude and that we have a lot of things to say and to express and to showcase.
This year we chose to add a theme to our programming : royalty declined in four sub-themes during four week-ends. “Kings and Queens of Africa”, “Heritage, Transmission and Orality”, “Q.U.E.E.R (Queen, Unity, Elegance, Empowerment, Royalty)” and « Street is My Kingdom ». Inspired by works from Cheikh Anta Diop to Kendrick Lamar’s « DNA », we felt like royalty is a recurrent theme in black culture. We refer to our hair as crowns, we refer to our brothers and sisters as kings and queens. And so on. We also search for history, ancestry and lineage to help us act accordingly today and that goes through heritage and transmissions wether it be religions, traditions or crafts.
We have the honor to screen multiple exclusive films and series this year. On our first week-end we had ‘The Adventures of Selika’ by Sybil Mair featuring Karidja Touré as an African Princess turned equestrian in France, La France Cachée by Christin Bela, an experimental docu-film about France’s hidden black talents and creatives. During our « Q.U.E.E.R » week-end we have 195 Lewis series, an inside look inside a black queer community in Brooklyn, Afropunk Girl a short sci-fi movie by Annetta Laufer. We will have a debate about the place of afro-queer/black queer characters in cinema with director Stephane Gerard, photographer Estelle Prudent and film critic Fanta Sylla.
On our last week-end we will screen critically acclaimed short films Les Misérables by Ladj Ly + Cesar winning ‘Vers La Tendresse’ by Alice Diop. Our guest of honor will be Jean-Claud Barny, a carribean film director, who recently released historic film Le Gang des Antillais.
Photos by Gael Rapon