The Capital City Black Film Festival (CCBFF) has wrapped its 2020 virtual festival after presenting more than 60 films and featuring amazing talent from across the globe. Official selections included documentaries, features, shorts, and music videos. Filmmakers and film enthusiasts were provided the opportunity to participate in engaging and educational programming and to network with and learn from industry professionals. The 2020 festival was led by the involvement of ambassador Anthony Anderson, who participated in a one-on-one discussion with CCBFF.
This past weekend was spent discovering new films and filmmakers at the CCBFF and what a life-changing experience it was! From the comfort of my couch, and wrapped in my favorite blanket, I binge-watched short-films, feature-lengths, talk backs, documentaries, and panels. And I can honestly say that I am a better woman for it, which is largely due to this year’s bold new festival theme, “Breakthrough: Unleash Your Power,” an in-depth examination of the state of Black mental health.
There were six screenings in particular that stood out to me:
“Melissa,” (written and directed by Melissa Sledge), a five-minute documentary short about a young woman that shares her struggles in a virtual therapy session. My takeaway — check on your strong friends, cuz even in strength there is weakness; and that is ok.
“Mickey Hardaway,” (written, produced, directed by Marcellus Cox), a nineteen-minute short about a young sketch artist that spirals out of control after years of physical and verbal abuse have taken a toll on him. My takeaway – how we treat and talk to one another profoundly affects our mental state in ways that can stunt our emotional growth, unless we seek help.
“Mr. and Mrs. Ellis,” (written, produced and directed by Alan M. Brooks; and producer Jordyn Collins), a nineteen-minute short about facing the reality of the scars from one’s past and how dark secrets can affect those around us. My takeaway – there’s more damage inflicted in holding on to painful secrets.
“Finding Elijah,” (produced, directed, edited by Yolanda Johnson-Young, and edited by Aleks Martray), a twenty-five-minute documentary short told from a mother’s perspective as it follows a young man’s journey from home; into mental illness to homelessness and ultimately to suicide. My takeaway – black healing matters. Suicide is something we need to talk about more frequently. And also teach our black boys and men how to handle what they feel (and that it’s ok to feel).
“Lockdown Lunch Club,” (directed by Déwun Owusu; produced by Xola Maswana) a twenty-three minute documentary short about a group of unlikely heroes from a poverty stricken township near Cape Town, South Africa, who step up to sustain their community and show them that the future is in their hands, they just have to build it. My takeaway – “find your passion and create a business around it.”
“Sundays in July,” (produced and directed by Joseph Austin II; created, produced by Denise Yolèn; produced by Naiquan Green, Jeremy Harris), a one-hour and 25-minute feature-length about a young couple that turns themselves inside out as they carefully explore the levels of intimacy, and truth at different stages of their relationship. My takeaway – love is complex and we owe it to ourselves to be transparent with what we think and believe. This film took my breath away! Denise Yolèn and Greg Luther were exceptional to watch and listen to! “Sundays in July” is one of the best and beautiful displays of a black male/female relationship dynamic that I have seen in a long while.
While CCBFF received amazing work from a host of filmmakers, only a few were selected as award winners in the categories of Best Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short and Best Music Video. The list of winners is as follows:
ABOUT CAPITAL CITY BLACK FILM FESTIVAL: Austin’s only Black film festival – Capital City Black Film Festival (CCBFF) – showcases the best in new Black independent film from the brightest minds in filmmaking. One of the fastest growing film festivals in the region, CCBFF presents screenings, special events and exciting opportunities for people to experience the brilliant work of Black artists and filmmakers from across the globe. The eighth annual Capital City Black Film Festival took place virtually on Dec. 4-6. For more information about the festival please visit www.capcitybff.com.