Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, also known as “The Summer’s Finest Film Festival,” is now entering its 20th year on Martha’s Vineyard.
Screening and promoting Feature, Documentary and Short films produced by and starring African Americans from across the world, the likes of Questlove, Spike Lee, Tyler Perry and Kasi Lemmons and more are set to attend the yearly festival.
Per Variety, Questlove will participate in a panel discussion for the documentary Descendant, in which he serves as producer, which follows “members of Africatown, a small community in Alabama, as they share their personal stories and community history as descendants of the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to illegally transport human beings as cargo from West Africa to America.” The film debuted at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and will be screened on opening night at MVAAFF.
“I hope ‘Descendant’ is one of those films you have to have a conversation about when you see it,” said Questlove to Deadline. “I want people to see it to give them an entryway into thinking about our country’s history. It is one tangible proof of our story that I hope creates space for different levels of understanding about race and culture, and allows us to talk about difficult truths like this to further the effects of slavery on its people.”
Per The Root, Tyler Perry will preview his forthcoming film, A Jazzman’s Blues, a film set between 1937-1987 centering around “an investigation into an unsolved murder unveiling a story full of forbidden love, deceit and a secret that has been held for 40 years.” Perry will also participate in discussions afterwards.
Spike Lee continues to raise the cinematic bar, he’s been filming Colin Kaepernick and his journey back to the NFL for a documentary set to premiere at a later date. Lee’s expert storytelling over his illustrious career will also be celebrated and recognized for films such as Malcolm X, Red Tails, Black KKKlansmen, Kobe Doin’ Work, A Huey P. Newton Story among so many others.
Additionally, Kasi Lemmons will be honored with the the Legacy Spotlight for her classic film “Eve’s Bayou,” which marks its 25th anniversary this year. Immediately following, she will participate in a talk about her successful career and touch on her upcoming Whitney Houston biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody.
When: Aug. 5-13
Where: Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center, Oak Bluffs
Highlights: It’s year 20 for the Vineyard’s week-plus extravaganza of Black film and TV, which attracts guests (many who return year after year) from all over the U.S. Back before COVID-19, all MVAAFF films screened once and did not overlap to enable festgoers to attend everything — together — and then talk about what they’ve seen. Post-film discussions get archived online as the “Color of Conversation” videos. Details for this year have not yet been announced. But stars always show up (Regina King and Spike Lee attended last year) and the festival’s shorts program offers a first-stop to a possible Academy Award nomination.
Need to Know: Book your ferry this minute if you want to attend. (No kidding, stop reading and book now!)