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Syracuse International Film Festival highlights outstanding Black filmmakers

Syracuse International Film Festival

The Syracuse International Film Festival is honoring outstanding Black filmmakers.

The event will screen five films: two documentaries, two short films and a narrative feature.

Guardians of the Flame is a documentary that chronicles the Harrison Family in New Orleans who preserve and redefine Black masking culture in the city as they recover from Hurricane Katrina and fight against cultural suppression. If A Flower Bloomed is a documentary depicting the daily lives of Kenyan students and the obstacles they face. The Poison Garden is a short film that tells true stories of three acts of racial terrorism occurring in and out of South Florida's courts in the 1930s. Kikum Spirit is a narrative feature depicting a centuries-long battle over preserving a village's sovereignty and survival. Karen is a short film shot during the pandemic and explores white privilege and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Michelle DiBernardo, executive director of Syracuse International Film Festival, said diversity is important in their festival - in their 20th year anniversary they focused on Iranian film festivals, added LGBTQ+ programming and helped develop youth with the new filmmakers showcase.

"I just felt that we were maybe lacking some powerful Black films," DiBernardo said. "When we, you know, opened up that category, we really got some great films, and what better to have this event during Black History Month and have a small event to kick off something during the year. It's long overdue."

The festival plans to honor local filmmaker and Syracuse University alum Eric Jackson of Black Cub Productions for his contributions to the film industry and Syracuse community.

The Honoring Outstanding Black Filmmakers event will be held on February 24 at Buried Acorn Restaurant and Brewery from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.