The Hollywood Black Film Festival To Return In 2016 After A Year Off

March 18, 2015  |  

In 2014, the Hollywood Black Film Festival shut down after 16 years of offering an outlet for Black filmmakers to show their films, network with Hollywood insiders, and learn more about the trade via workshops.

Needless to say many in Black Hollywood were disappointed. But with a lack of supporting sponsors, Tanya Kersey, founder and executive director of the HBFF, and programmer Jacqueline Blaylock didn’t think they could continue.

But now, after a year off the HBFF is on it’s was back for 2016. And Kersey could be more happier.

“We had so many people texting, calling, emailing saying how disappointed they were we were ending. Many said they had been planning to participate in the event,” says Kersey in a phone interview with MadameNoire. “So we felt this responsibility to the Black filmmaking community. When we started this, it was to give them a much-needed outlet. And there is still a major need for the resources we provide. So we prayed on it and decided just to set a date and move forward. If we had to scale back, we would scale back. Whatever it took we decided we were coming back in 2016.”

Kersey says this time around they may be making some changes. One thing they will be doing is utilizing a young team to run the festival. “Jacqui and I will have our daughters be more involved this year. They are both in their 20s and have handled things for HBFF in the past. But for 2016 we will be turning over more responsibility to them. Jacqui and I can’t do this forever, so we think it is time to start turning it over to the new generation.”

Kersey says they are also looking for young people to volunteer and join the team for next year’s event.

They are also changing the date. “We decided to do it in February for Black History Month, right after Sundance but before the Oscars,” says Kersey. This was a strategic business move by HBFF. “We found that at lot of people were saying they could get their company to partners with us as a sponsor if we were in Black History Month. So this way we can get on the corporate budgets for February.” It will take place February 24-28, 2016.

They may also relocate the festival from Beverly Hills to Downtown Los Angeles, as the city have started to court the event. “That area is really thriving, so if it makes sense for us business wise we will be moving as well,” says Kersey.

HBFF was founded in 1998 and since that time it screened a total of 721 independent films including 132 features, 382 shorts, 108 documentaries, 73 student films, 14 animated films and 8 music videos, from all across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and the Caribbean. It hosted 339 world premieres, 13 U.S. premieres, 91 West Coast premieres and 59 Los Angeles premieres. And it has been attended by more than 50,000 people.

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