For its 20th anniversary, the Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival has scheduled a star-studded line-up of films, series and panels, including Amazon Prime Video's Yara Shahidi-moderated "Visionary Women: A Conversation with the New Wave of Filmmaking Voices" panel, and Peacock's "Black Excellence through Legacy" panel.
The festival will also feature exclusive previews of the Viola Davis-starrer The Woman King, via a "Clips & Conversation" with director Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Spike Lee's upcoming documentary on Colin Kaepernick presented by ESPN Films: 30 for 30.
Considering this year's focus is celebrating 20 years of Black Excellence in Film, A.frame has rounded up five of the buzziest movies that attendees will want to check out during the festival, which runs from August 5 to 13.
The festival opens with Netflix's Descendant, a documentary from Barack and Michelle Obama's Higher Ground that won the U.S. Special Jury Award during this year's Sundance Film Festival, . The film follows residents of Africatown, a community in Alabama founded by descendants of the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to illegally bring enslaved people from West Africa to the United States in 1860. The screening will be followed by a panel with director Margaret Brown and producers Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter, and Essie Chambers.
Watch: Descendant screens Aug. 5 at 8 p.m.
Following the life of preacher and activist Reverend Al Sharpton, Loudmouth traces Sharpton's tenured career in the limelight, from exploding onto the national political scene in the '80s to grabbing headlines in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder, highlighting institutional racism, and asking "whether Al Sharpton has gone mainstream, or if America has finally decided to listen." The documentary will be followed by a conversation with Sharpton himself and filmmaker Josh Alexander.
Watch: Loudmouth screens Aug. 6 at 2:30 p.m.
A Jazzman's Blues
Netflix will preview A Jazzman's Blues, the newest film from writer-director Tyler Perry. (The Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award honoree at the 2021 Oscars.) A departure for Perry, A Jazzman's Blues is a new coming-of-age period drama described as a "sweeping tale of forbidden love." The first screenplay that Perry ever wrote, the film stars Joshua Boone and Solea Pfeiffer as star-crossed lovers. The screening will be followed by a talkback with Perry.
Watch: A Jazzman's Blues screens on Aug. 6 at 8 p.m., and will be released on Netflix on Sept. 23.
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.
A satirical mockumentary starring Regina Hall (who will also appear in conversation) and Sterling K. Brown as church leaders who must figure out how to save their megachurch after a scandal rocks the community. Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. had its premiere during this year's Sundance Film Festival, where it was picked up by Focus Features and Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions.
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. screens on Aug. 11 at 8 p.m., and will be in theaters and streaming on Peacock on Sept. 2.
Directed by Chinonye Chukwu, Till tells the story of 14-year-old Emmett Till (played by Jalyn Hall) through the eyes of his mother, Mamie (Danielle Deadwyler), whose courageous pursuit of justice after her son's murder served as a catalyst for the civil rights movement. Whoopi Goldberg serves as a producer on the biopic and stars as Mamie's mother, Alma.
Watch: Till screens on Aug. 12 at 8 p.m., and opens in select theaters on Oct. 14 and nationwide Oct. 28.
By Charlotte Walsh