The 16-Year-Old Hollywood Black Film Festival Canceled For 2014

April 11, 2014  |  

When Tanya Kersey, the founder of the Hollywood Black Film Festival, posted this on her Facebook page, I was shocked:

“Unfortunately, due to lack of financial sponsorship support, there will not be a 2014 Hollywood Black Film Festival. A full statement is forthcoming in a day or so.”

The HBFF has given opportunity to filmmakers of color seeking to show their work, giving rise to other black film festivals around the nation. Nicknamed “The Black Sundance,” the HBFF debuted in 1998. Each October the four-day celebration of black cinema has attracted the likes of legendary actor Sidney Poitier, Forest Whitaker, director John Singleton, filmmaker Spike Lee, Cedric The Entertainer,  Sanaa Lathan, Loretta Devine, among countless others. So to hear that in a year when black is the new green in Hollywood, with the monetary and critical successes of such films such as 12 Years A Slave, to learn that the HBFF could not get financial support, I was dumbfounded. This should be the year when sponsors are pouring in. But Kersey says it is just the opposite.

“HBFF has suffered from lack of mainstream industry support since Day 1,” Kersey added in another FB post. “It is through sheer will, passion, determination, commitment and untold sacrifice that HBFF has been around as long as it has… The studios and networks should support us as they do the other big film festivals. I don’t know about you but I consider HBFF a big and important film festival and I think we are worthy of the same level of support. We’ve screened over 1,000 films from 25 countries!”

Needless to say, Black Hollywood has responded and a “Save HBFF” campaign has sprouted up.

Kersey tells MadameNoire via FB message that she is gladdened by the outpouring of instantaneous grassroots efforts by HBFF fans.  “It wasn’t until I announced the cancellation of HBFF 2014 that I really understand the full impact the festival has had on so many lives and careers,” she wrote. “I’ve received hundreds of texts and emails of support with people asking what they can do to help save HBFF. It’s been an emotionally overwhelming show of love and support that has really touched the hearts of the entire HBFF team. As a result, we are spearheading a ‘Save HBFF’ campaign. More details will be forthcoming days.”

We will keep you updated on the “Save HBFF” campaign. We know that it will include a crowdfunding push.

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