DePaul’s Center for Black Diaspora to send message of Black joy and resilience with film festival


DePaul Center for Black Diaspora

DePaul’s Center for Black Diaspora is hosting a virtual film festival highlighting the Black experience through March 11.

DePaul’s Center for Black Diaspora is hosting a virtual film festival highlighting the Black experience through March 11. These films range across a wide variety of genres — animation, experimental, documentary and more — allowing students the opportunity to experience content not found on streaming services. 

“I think students are in for a treat because our film festival choices are carefully curated with the idea that, for some students, it might the first time they experience a Black experimental film like ‘Never Look at the Sun by Baloji,’ for instance,” said Juelle Daley, assistant director at the Center for Black Diaspora. “It’s content that they won’t find on some streaming platforms.” 

The Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM), which gained momentum this summer with the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd being at the forefront of mainstream media, brought forth the pain and injustices that the Black community faces. 

With these injustices being the primary story shared in mainstream media, it leaves stories of Black joy, love and resilience in the shadows. 

“We were not interested in films that simply reaffirm Black pain, but others that seek to explore joy, strength, resilience and love,” Daley said. “The bar is set really high to be included in the lineup because we want to guarantee that the audience will love each of the films.”

The festival began on Feb. 25 and will feature 12 films until March 11. The films will be shared via a Zoom event with a panel discussion with Aymar Jean “AJ” Christian, associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern University, and Romola O. Lucas, founder and executive director of the Caribbean Film Academy.

“We also have a panel discussion on Black Film Distribution that will explore barriers to entry and opportunities for exhibiting Black Film Content within this new paradigm on streaming,” Daley said. 

The Center for Black Diaspora’s Reading Room Collection is fully stocked with films covering the Black experience, documenting the nuances and diversity that may be overlooked in predominantly white films. 

“It had been a dream of mine to launch a film festival that would shine a bright light on the Center’s growing collection and diverse film library,” Daley said. “As artistic director and founder of the Black Diaspora Short Film Festival, this project is [a] natural outgrowth of our film library acquisitions and the fact that I, too, am a filmmaker.”

Daley said that the center plans to incorporate the film festival into its programming once things transition to in-person during a post-pandemic era. Daley said the center will continue to use Zoom to expand the festival’s audience beyond Chicago.

University spokespeople declined to provide further comment but directed the DePaulia to Julie Moody-Freeman, director of the Center for Black Diaspora, and Moody-Freeman could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

To register for the event, check out their website. Movie trailers are also available for viewing on their website.