POSTPONED to Feb. 27th: Afrikana Independent Film Festival highlights RVA arts scene and celebrates diversity in film

AND, weather permitting, you might get to interact with a legend—now on February 27th!

The Afrikana Independent Film Festival celebrates its second season showcasing the intersection of Black culture and cinema as they host activist and cultural icon Sonia Sanchez this weekend (weather permitting) in Richmond.

In just a short time, Enjoli Moon jump-started the festival with the help of a friend after visiting similar events in other cities.

“We are a city with a challenging and difficult history. We can’t shy away from that reality,” Moon said. “We need to have a positive way to face it, and I believe that film is one of the most poignant ways to do that.”

With Richmond transitioning into the city that it’s becoming, one with a burgeoning arts scene, Moon said it’s important to have a space where diverse stories are embraced.

Seeing the resurgence of film as a storytelling medium, the idea sparked and so began the organization’s monthly Noir third Thursday film series highlighting emerging and established filmmakers of African descent.

Saturday’s guest discussion follows the Richmond premiere of the documentary, BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez. Sanchez is known for her poetry, writing, and activism work, especially in academia–she advocated for Black studies programs across the nation and created and taught the first course on Black Women and Literature.

“She is someone who has been very mindful to contribute to the progression of liberation of Black people in this country starting in the 1960s,” Moon said. “Coming up through the civil rights era, I think she’ll have an interesting point of view on some of the contemporary issues we’re discussing today.”

One of those issues that has been in recent headlines has been the Academy Awards’ lack of Black nominees in its top acting categories. Moon said this repeated oversight can be frustrating, especially with the significant contributions people of color have made in the entertainment industry.

This makes spaces like the Afrikana Independent Film Festival more important than ever according to Moon.

“We don’t have to seek [outside] validation from the Academy or any organization that doesn’t deem our artistic contributions valid,” she said. “…There are many organizations like Afrikana that validate brown people in the cinematic realm, and we have to begin giving them value as well.”

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Weather pending, Evening with An Icon: Sonia Sanchez is Saturday, January 23rd at 7:00 PM at VCU Grace St. Theatre, 934 W. Grace Street. Tickets are $15-$25 and can be purchased in advance online here.

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Kevin Clay

Kevin is a lover of nachos, cake, cats and Richmond (in no particular order, but that nacho craving though!)

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