A scene from Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom – Photo courtesy of the Denton Black Film Festival

(The Dallas Examiner) – For nine years, North Texas has built and established itself as a premiere location for Black culture and expression to thrive through film, music, comedy, dance and other art forms. However, cities throughout the area have held film festivals to showcase the art of storytelling through film.

Storytellers in all forms gathered at the Denton Black Film Festival in-person Jan. 25-29 and virtually through Feb. 5 to shine a light on everything from social justice issues to the Black experience in America.

This year, the festival amassed a total of 98 independent films that were available in person or online depending on scheduling and permissions. Here’s a few flicks audiences should look out for when searching for relatable content.

Short Film

The Unwritten Rule
– Director Kaye Spann
In the Unwritten Rule, a Black teacher stops a White school shooter by killing him in defense only to be charged by the state of Missouri for manslaughter. What follows sets up dramatic coverage by local news and community commentators until it mounts into a national debate. Will the standards on race and gun politics in the country outweigh what would otherwise be seen as a heroic act?

Yogurt Raisin – Photo courtesy of the Denton Black Film Festival

Yogurt Raisin
– Director Michael Cooke
Daryl has unwittingly amassed a group of diverse friends over the years. They’ve come together for his future brother-in-law’s bachelor party, although he holds a few grievances. His White afro-centric, childhood friend, Jacob, is overjoyed to be joining the family. However, the evening takes a turn when lines slowly but steadily get crossed as the conversations go from playful to offensive. Daryl’s stays disgruntled and quiet, but not for long.

Short Documentary

– Directors Aysia Lane and Crislyn Fayson
In this experimental documentary, a picture is painted through a collaboration of dramatic storytellings, thematic presentations and investigative interviews that explore a critical question: what is it like to be a Black student at a Predominantly White Institution? The film shows five Black students’ reenacting their experiences with racism at Dallas private college, Southern Methodist University. The stories told stem from the trending Twitter hashtag “BlackAtSMU” in the summer of 2020 following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

150 Years of Resiliency; A Joppa Documentary
– Directors Curshion Royal Jones and Joslyn Madu
In an age of revolution and riots where survival is a luxury, the Joppee – sometimes refered to as Joppa – community stands as one of the last Freedman towns in Texas. As a rare gem in the urban and racially divided landscape of Dallas, Joppa continues to thrive even upon its 150th anniversary. How will future generations preserve the history it contains amongst systematic oppression and pressure from the growing metroplex that surrounds it?

Documentary Feature

Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom
– Director Ya’Ke Smith
As a descendant of slaves, pastor Rasool Berry was troubled by the legacy and stain it continues to leave on American society and the misuse of Christianity to justify it. Now that Juneteenth has become a national holiday, he has journeyed through Texas to discover the true story behind the final freeing of slaves in the U.S. two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Find out how faith inspired liberation in a fight for freedom in an unjust society. Full feature available on YouTube.

Hampton University: One of the Wonders of the World
– Phill Branch
Dr. William R. Harvey strived for excellence as the president of Hampton University. For 44 years he was seen as an iconic leader and advocate for HBCU education. Harvey took Hampton from being a small liberal arts college, that was struggling financially, to being a top, thriving research institution because of his strong business acumen. Interviews, photos and footage on campus showcase his legacy on the university and the lasting impact it made on those who visited.

Charity Chukwu is the copy editor and social media manager at The Dallas Examiner. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014 with a Bachelor of Journalism concentrating in copyediting...

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