Now in its 16th year, the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival will bring over 60 films to the Island on Monday, August 6, through Saturday, August 11. Stephanie and Floyd Rance of Run & Shoot Filmworks are co-founders of this annual festival.
The festival will start with a bang, screening a number of short films at the Performing Arts Center on Monday, August 6, from 11 am to 12:30 pm, and then another set of short films from 1 to 2:30 pm, and 3 to 4:30 pm. The spotlight screening of the night is “Bruce!!!!” which will start at 5 pm. In an opening night presentation, Island resident and Oscar-winning filmmaker Spike Lee will screen exclusive clips from his new film “BlacKkKlansmen” at 8 pm. The film is based on the book “Black Klansman: A Memoir” by Ron Stallworth, and tells the story of Stallworth’s 1970’s infiltration of the KKK. Stallworth is a retired black Colorado police officer who enlisted a white police officer to impersonate him. After the screening, there’s an opening night party at Lola’s in Oak Bluffs. The party starts at 10 pm, and goes to 12:30 am.
Festivities continue on Tuesday, August 7, with a series of short films from 11 am to 12:30 pm. At 1:30 pm, the American Heart Association and Color of Change present a screening and discussion with activist Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement. It’ll be a conversation about the impact of social justice in health, moderated by Dream Hampton. More short films will screen from 4 to 5:30 pm, and at 6 pm, the Performing Arts Center will show “Through the Banks of the Red Cedar.” The spotlight film on Tuesday is “United Skates,” which screens at 8 pm. This documentary examines how the nation’s remaining roller rinks are threatened with closure. Part of an African American subculture, the rinks
have provided an underground music venue for many African American artists.
On Wednesday, August 8, the spotlight film of the day is “The Carter Effect.” The Toronto Raptors basketball superstar Vince Carter is the subject of the documentary, directed by Sean Menard. The film looks at how the eight-time NBA all-star has affected Canadian culture. After the screening, join a discussion with moderator and TV host Marci len of Toronto’s CTV, former Toronto Raptors Coach Darrell Walker, Boston Celtics assistant coach Jerome Allen, and Global Sport Institute’s Scott N. Brooks.
On Thursday, August 9, at 3:30 pm, catch “Mr. SOUL!” a film directed by Melissa Haizlip and Sam Pollard. The film tells the story of Ellis Haizlip, host of “Soul,” which was considered the first “black Tonight Show.” It ran from the late ’60s to the early ’70s, and featured African American music, dance, and literature. Haizlip will join the audience for a conversation following the film. Also playing on Thursday is “The Hate U Give,” based on the Angie Thomas bestselling novel of the same name. The protagonist, Starr Carter, witnesses a fatal shooting by a police officer and must take action. Director George Tillman
Jr. will lead a discussion following the film. For the last screening of the day, Black Entertainment Television presents “The Bobby Brown Story” from 8 to 9:30 pm. The miniseries narrates the life of the musician responsible for the fusion of hip-hop and R&B. The cast will appear for a postscreening conversation.
The first episode from season three of Craig Wright’s “Greenleaf” screens on Friday, August 10, at 3:30 pm. This TV series enters the world of the Greenleaf family and their Memphis megachurch. A discussion will follow with executive producer Kriss Turner Towner and three of the actors. Also playing Friday at 1 pm is “Maynard: The Man, the Politician, the Game Changer,” directed by Samuel Pollard, who will attend the screening. This documentary gives a portrait of Atlanta’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson Jr.
New this year, and premiering on Friday, is a Legacy of Light concert, featuring three-time Grammy-nominated hip-hop and rap singer Angie Stone. The show begins at 7 pm, and will include keyboardist P.J. Morton, and the jazz, soul, and funk band the Woo Factor. “We’re bringing music to the festival for the first time,” Stephanie Rance said. The festival has also added an Audience Award for the first time. “Everyone will have a chance to vote for their
favorite film,” Ms. Rance said. Next year the festival will run for two weeks. There’s a Summer’s Finest party at Lola’s, beginning at 10 pm on Friday night.
Saturday, August 11, brings “Love Is ___.” Set in ’90s black Hollywood, the series follows Nuri (Michele Weaver) and Yasir (Will Catlett) as they chase their dreams and learn to follow their heart. The screening begins at 1:30 pm. The closing festival film is “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which screens Saturday night at 8 pm, and includes clips from the film and a discussion with Academy awardwinning director Barry Jenkins. Based on a James Baldwin novel, acclaimed “Moonlight” director Jenkins sets the scene of the film in Harlem, where a young, pregnant woman fights to free her lover from a rape charge.
“We’re super-excited that he’s going to be part of the MVAAFF family,” Stephanie Rance said. “We’re really honored to have two Academy Award directors [Jenkins and Lee] come to the festival.”
All screenings will be held at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center at 100 Edgartown Rd., in Oak Bluffs. For more information, to buy tickets, and to see the full MV African American Film Festival schedule, visit mvaaff.com.