Little Hall, Hamilton, NY 13346, USA

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Black Star Selects with Archer Pechawis, writer and narrator of A Bear Named Jesus, in conversation with BlackStar's Zoë Greggs.
Since 2012, the BlackStar Film Festival has celebrated the visual and storytelling traditions of the African diaspora and global Indigenous communities, showcasing films by Black and Brown people from around the world. Lauded as a “Black Sundance” by Ebony Magazine, the four-day event has become a highly visible platform for introducing independent filmmakers creating aesthetically challenging and genre-defying work to new audiences. This special program, focused on Black and Indigenous religion and spirituality, features five short films: If Heaven Had Heights (dir. Fahamu Pecou, 2023), Forgotten Paradise: Dream the Other Side of the River (dir. Charlotte Brathwaite, 2022), A Bear Named Jesus (dir. Terril Calder, 2023), Angakusajaujuq: The Shaman's Apprentice (dir. Zacharias Kunuk, 2022), and Sèt Lam (dir. Vincent Fontano, 2023).

If Heaven Had Heights, Fahamu Pecou, Tremain Hamilton
This short film accompanies an exhibit of paintings and drawings by the same title. These works are in conversation with ideas of hope and aspiration rarely considered on Black bodies. This series transposes the typically negative associations made of Black youthful dissidence into an examination of what is possible when we seek an alternative perspective.

Forgotten Paradise: Dream the Other Side of the River, Charlotte Brathwaite 
Energy cannot be destroyed - it can only be transformed. The legacy of enslavement strips the fullness of life from those caught in its suffocating nightmare. In moving and static images, Director Charlotte Brathwaite in collaboration with Photographer Malick Welli imagine the dreams and nightmares of forcibly enslaved Muslim scholar Omar ibn Said. In shifting projections and large form photographs – the work unfolds as a cinematic ghost song that connects Said’s stolen spirit back to the living presence of his ancestors across the oceans, across time and space. FORGOTTEN PARADISE transforms the darkness of captivity into the light of knowing freedom, and loving family.

A Bear Named Jesus, Terril Calder
In A Bear Named Jesus, a stop-motion film by Terril Calder, we meet Archer Pechawis, who is living on the rez. At Archer’s Aunty Gladys’ funeral, his mom is abducted by rabid bears and converted to fundamentalist Christianity. That night, he hears a tap on the window — it’s a bear named Jesus, who has come to apologize for the actions of the rabid bears. A Bear Named Jesus is an allegory for religious interference, with an aching yet humorous look at estrangement and mourning for the loss of someone still living.

Angakusajaujuq: The Shaman's Apprentice, Zacharias Kunuk 
A young shaman must face her first test-a trip underground to visit Kannaaluk, The One Below, who holds the answers to why a community member has become ill.

Sèt Lam, Vincent Fontano 
In an insular city’s ghetto, in the midst of a trance ritual, a young girl is paralyzed by fear. She is afraid her loved ones may be hurt or even disappear. It is then that her grandmother tells her the strange tale of Edwardo, the first one of his kin to have seen and fought death.

Cosponsored by the Colgate Arts Council, the Department of Art, Africana & Latin American Studies, the ALANA Cultural Center, and the Department of Religion.


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