Film festival gives Black films a broader audience

As was the case in previous festivals, the 2011 Twin Cities Black Film Festival (TCBFF), held September 15-17, again opened with a feature-length film.

Mooz-Lum, a film by Qasim “Q” Basir starring Danny Glover, Nia Long, Roger Guenveur Smith and Evan Ross, was shown at the Mall of America theater September 15 as this year’s opening night screening.

Now available on DVD, the PG-13 film tells the story of a young man (Ross) and his parents (Long and Smith), a Muslim family in the days leading up to September 11, 2001. Dorian Missick plays a college professor, also a Muslim, butting heads with his boss (Glover) at a Midwestern college where Ross is a freshman.

TCBFF Founder/Director Natalie Morrow told the MSR that the film didn’t get a wide release, so when she got the opportunity to acquire it for her annual festival, she jumped at it. The story was very compelling, especially almost a week after the tragic event’s 10-year anniversary.
“The people who were here liked it,” Morrow said after the showing.

The remaining 11 films at this year’s TCBFF were shown at the Trylon Microcinema on 33rd and Minnehaha Avenue in South Minneapolis. A small cinema house that features 50 deluxe seats and a 20-foot screen, it gave those who came a home-theatre feeling, a departure from the usual TCBFF locales.

“We usually have [the films] at the hosting hotel,” explains Morrow. “It’s a cute little theatre that a lot of people didn’t know about.”

This was the ninth annual TCBFF, a cinematic lineup of small films, shorts and documentary — mostly written, produced and directed by Blacks. “Every year I try to find meaningful films, something you can walk away with and make you think about things,” admits Morrow.

This year’s offerings included Number 37, a 16-minute short film about a Black professor looking to satisfy his hidden desires; The Secret about a man who has a one-night stand with a beautiful woman, but in the morning finds out that things are never the way they appear to be; and Underground, a slave story told through song.

Four local filmmakers also presented their work.

The Family Guardian is Lee Jordan’s second film that Morrow has shown in consecutive years. Each of his pieces thus far has a similar theme, he points out: “strong family values. Every film I do will have some sort of message,” says Jordan.

Marilyn Moore and Dirk Cannon’s documentary, Urban Warfare: The Peaceful Warriors,” centered on North Minneapolis and featured Peace Foundation’s Sondra Samuels, Bishop Richard Howell of Shiloh Temple and MADDAD’s V.J. Smith among others. It was first shown last year at the Capri Theater on West Broadway, and then later won a social documentary award at the New York International Film Festival.

“It is a series of documentaries,” says Moore of her first film.

“We have two more documentaries and we want to do the same thing” in spotlighting local individuals doing positive work in the community, adds Cannon. “We have enough bad news.”
Although the turnout to the 2011 TCBFF could have been better, Morrow was encouraged nonetheless.

“We are going to do something really big,” she pledges of next year’s festival — it’s tenth.

Morrow wants members of the Black community to be more “involved and come out” to see the films. She also encourages those who use social media sites to help get the word out.
“Every year we have fabulous movies, but you won’t know unless you come,” she concludes.

Dedicated to screening classic films, Take-Up runs the Trylon cinema and presents screenings in neighborhood theaters including the Heights and

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Charles Hallman's picture
Charles Hallman

Charles Hallman writes regularly for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and blogs at Another View.