Not Attending Sundance? Try Denton Black Film Festival
by Leslie Fields-Cruz
The film festival circuit is still recovering from its Covid-19-induced hiatus. While the virus remains a menace, it’s no longer viewed as a death sentence, which has emboldened more of us to venture out and mingle with strangers. And mingling is what makes film festivals fun.
Several of my friends and colleagues are attending the Sundance Film Festival this year. Others are streaming the festival’s content remotely. It’s been years since I attended in person, but those I know who are there say the audience, panels, and film fare are appreciably more diverse than they’ve been in the past. This is a good thing. But I also know that smaller Black film festivals are having a significantly more difficult time rebuilding their audiences in this post-covid era.
BPM was present and well represented at BlackStar this past summer, and we are hosting a mixer at Denton Black Film Festival this Friday (Jan. 27).
If you’ve never heard of DBFF, it is one festival you should check out. Denton, Tex., is located a little more than 50 miles northwest of Dallas. Black folks have played a role in the city’s history since before emancipation. This year’s festival is hybrid, so if you can’t be there in person, attending virtually is an option.
The program includes a diverse array of narrative and documentary film screenings, spoken word poetry events, concerts, a tech expo, and social justice workshops and panels. Q&As with filmmakers and several afterhours social events provide great opportunities to mingle. If you’re like me — who hates the cold of winter — then this festival offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy cinema in a place where January daytime temperatures seldom dip below 50 degrees. Which means the chances of getting snowed in are next to nil.
It is wonderful that mainstream film festivals are finally becoming more welcoming and accessible to Black filmmakers and film lovers. But let’s not flock to those at the expense of festivals that were showing us love long before anyone else thought to include us. The sustainability and continued growth of festivals like Denton depend on us.
Passes and tickets to in-person and online DBFF events are available online. If you attend in person, make a point to mingle with us on Friday evening, Jan. 27, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., at Steve’s Winebar, 111 Industrial St., Denton, TX 76201.
— Fields-Cruz is the executive director of Black Public Media