I love film, it’s one of the main pop culture mediums where I have searched to find myself the most. If it wasn’t the romantic comedies, with the same white leading ladies falling in love in two weeks, it was the teen comedies where the racially ambiguous best friend made everyone laugh while eating pizza in the food court. When I was younger, and even admittedly sometimes now, I excused the lack of representation on the screen. I opted for piecing together bits of each character in a film to connect with some frankensteined version of myself but — how fly would it be to not have to do that?
Last weekend I got the opportunity to attend the Black Femme Supremacy Film Fest and got to spend the entire time looking at fully realized, multiple versions of myself on my television. Founded by Nia Hampton and put on with the help of the rest of her crew, this year marks the 3rd annual festival, sponsored by Ava Duvernays’ ARRAY, amongst others, and it’s the first digital version of the festival.
The programmers have decided to extend it to this weekend (A perk of the forced digital format!) through September 11 – 13. It gives those who missed out the chance to join in, and those who were there the opportunity to kick back and rewatch their favorites!
Going digital didn’t mean there would be a lack of programming either, there were panels, live Q&As’ with directors, and free events to teach those who are ready to jump into the world of film that were led by black femmes.
There were over 40 films to watch and it’s incredible to see the talent, ingenuity, and skill bought to the screen by so many black femmes. These are just a few of my favorites. Free of spoilers but full of hype.
Directed by Juh Almeida, this short was part of the Defining Black block during the festival. The opening sounds of the waves crashing against the body of the films’ protagonist filled my speakers. The camera’s super intimate focus on their white headwrap and closeups on their features, while a voice is heard over the waves, all made up it one of the strongest pieces of the festival.
Sasha & Condi
Also a part of the Defining Black block of shorts, this film blends Black kitsch and mockumentary — two things I love and have been desperate to see more of from Black women in film. Directed by Lucretia Stinnette, it features two friends who look back on their youth of being Black women raised in their mostly white suburban town, Pleasanton, in the 1990s, complete with cute soundtrack vibes and animation.
My favorite film in the Legacy of Beauty shorts block, focuses on three Black women and their hair, a topic I have written about here on Autostraddle in the past. I frequently feel that non-Black people, especially those who are white, feel like we’ve talked enough about the relationship that Black women have with their hair. This film, directed by Kourtney Jackson, serves as a reminder that it goes quite deep and inspires Black women to hold space for each other on a topic that is close to so many of us.
I was thrilled to see this short (that is being turned into a feature film), as part of the Legacy of the WAP block at the festival. I saw Tender, written and directed by Felicia Pride, a few months back, and loved every minute of it. It’s a look at the morning after, one not filled with regret and a quick escape but instead, one that becomes infinitely more intimate than the physical aspect of the night before. The way these two Black, queer women who are at different places in so many areas of their lives, connect despite that — is enchanting.
and lastly my pick of the festival….
Herald of Blue
I was most excited about the Legacy of Black Magic short block — I have newly been connecting with my family and discovering the magical ancestry of the lineage I come from. There is an entire history to one side of my family that has remained a mystery to me for years that has begun to unveil itself. Things that I have been drawn to make more sense and beliefs I’ve always had have become deeper. I lost my grandfather when I was young, he was the person in my family who I have always been the closest to and I was never given the chance for a proper goodbye. In this film, directed and animated by Jacqueline CJ Barnes, a girl is dealing with the death of her beloved grandfather and has to decide to either forget him or break the family way and remember him.
The Black Femme Supremacy Film Fest being online his year not only permits people to stay safe, but opens up the festivals’ films, documentaries, shorts and more, to be viewed by people all across the world. It may not have been ideal but it helps to push forward one of the festivals missions to “..re-envision the black femme as a global protagonist and universal archetype”.