Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival Celebrates Its 20th Year of Black Excellence

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Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson with Stephanie T. Rance and Floyd A.B. Rance III, the founders of the Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival on August 8, 2021 in Martha's Vineyard. Image: Scott Eisen/Getty Images for MVFF.

Martha’s Vineyard is one of the most divine landmarks for Black artistic achievement. The historic island, situated in the New England region, will be the backdrop once again for the annual Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival (MVAAFF), which this year will be celebrating its 20th anniversary. Themed Celebrating Black Excellence in Film, the festival highlights both independent and established filmmakers over a span of nine days.

Established in 2002 by husband and wife duo Floyd A.B. Rance III, and Stephanie T. Rance, MVAAFF has created a unique space for Black filmmakers and filmmakers of color to premiere new work and be seen in their totality—with them having the ability to showcase, screen and promote emerging feature, documentary and short films that span the globe. Hosted in Oaks Bluff, the iconic town favored by generations of well-heeled African Americans, this year’s programming boasts an illustrious slate of talent—including Black luminaries such as Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, Skip Gates, Questlove and Kasi Lemmons—and exemplary films such as Rev. Al Sharpton’s Loudmouth, which previously premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and Questlove’s Descendant.

Mixed media fine artist Thomas E. Lockhart III will also be on display throughout the festival.

Amazon, Netflix, OWN, APPLE +, HBO, Hulu, Lionsgate, Starz, and Peacock are a few of the studio partners who will hold various screenings of their upcoming projects at MVAAFF. Tyler Perry is set to premiere his new period piece drama A Jazzman’s Blues; while Netflix will host a talkback with co-creators Tembi and Attica Locke following the screening of their limited series From Scratch.

Director Kasi Lemmons will be honored with the Legacy Spotlight for the 25th anniversary of Eve’s Bayou and her work throughout the Black film landscape. She will also discuss working on the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody, which is coming out in December of this year.

Attendees are not only welcome to participate in the screenings at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center (MVPAC) but can take part in panel discussions with filmmakers as they talk more about their bodies of work in depth.

The full listing of scheduled screenings and events will be available at mvaaff.com. Check out the teaser, below, of what to expect at this year’s film festival.

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