Shining a light on black filmmaking

In its eighth year, the Twin Cities Black Film Festival is only on the rise.

Courtesy Duly Noted Inc

“The Inheritance” promises big scares.

Andrew Penkalski

What: Twin Cities Black Film Festival

When: Oct. 15-17

Where: AMC Theatres at Block E

 

There is a hunger for film in the Twin Cities. While the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival satisfies the international and domestic art-house cravings for the early portion of the year, there is a gap in the later calendar pages.

This yearâÄôs Twin Cities Film Fest offered a similar but lighter schedule of international fare for the cinephiles. But the plight of central American protagonists or the bizarre abstraction of eastern European endeavors is only so relatable for the Minnesotan palate. Now in its eighth year, the Twin Cities Black Film Festival continues to add local flare to the areaâÄôs offerings.

With 18 films over three days, the festival prides itself on diversity in both style and vision. Although this yearâÄôs schedule is largely comprised of black voice, the event has a history of functioning on a multicultural plane.

âÄúOne year was a lot of Native American filmmakers. The last year was a lot of Asian filmmakers,âÄù festival director Natalie Morrow said.

At this point in the festivalâÄôs tenure, the submitted works are substantially local. Only the festival opener and closer are national productions. Yet, the festivalâÄôs opener, a slave vengeance horror flick called âÄúThe Inheritance,âÄù was shot entirely in Stillwater with local crews âÄî an experience that led to its position on this weekendâÄôs film roster.

As a festival opener, it is a bit of an odd choice. The story surrounds a well-established African-American family that arrived at the status through an ancestral slaveâÄôs bargain for freedom âÄî a deal that proves deadly centuries later. On the surface, the work appears a bit exploitative, and itâÄôs a stark contrast from the weekendsâÄô more challenging works such as documentaries âÄúWe Turned The PageâÄù or âÄúThe Science Of Race.âÄù The filmâÄôs producer, Effie Brown, does assure that her slasher flick has brains.

âÄúWe didnâÄôt have a Michael Meyers. We didnâÄôt have a Freddy Krueger,âÄù Brown said, âÄúSo we were like âÄòletâÄôs make a cool horror movie that is smart.âÄô âÄù

There is also something awfully communal about the horror film experience, something that will likely act as a primer for those sharing a weekend together absorbed in cinema.

âÄúIt is a great common denominator,âÄù Brown said. âÄúYou can get a bunch of different people all together from all walks of life in one room and they will all have a common experience.âÄù

And that is where the Twin Cities Black Festival stands out among the others. While it is always great to see what is happening across the pond or south of the border, it never hurts to see whatâÄôs happening in the community at home.