Hip-hop fashion, Solange Knowles, the Central Park Five and fashion designer Dapper Dan are just a few of the topics on tap at the four-day Afrikana Independent Film Festival this weekend in Richmond.
“Film is an extremely powerful medium,” festival organizer Enjoli Moon said. “There’s something about the visual aspect of film that makes it easier for people to connect and for stories to penetrate and shift a person’s perspective.”
For the fourth year in a row, the independent film festival celebrates the power of black storytelling with a series of screenings, panel discussions and short films.
The festival kicks off Thursday with clips from the eagerly anticipated film “Harriet,” based on abolitionist Harriet Tubman, at The Valentine, 1015 E. Clay St., followed by a panel discussion.
On Friday, the festival will delve into the world of hip-hop fashion with the Virginia premiere of the documentary “The Remix: Hip Hop x Fashion” at the Institute for Contemporary Art, 601 W. Broad St. The film looks at the women who created some of the most legendary looks in hip-hop.
Dapper Dan, Harlem’s hip-hop tailor who became known for remixing luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi, will participate in a panel discussion after the screening, as well as celebrity stylist and designer Misa Hylton. Hylton has styled many hip-hop celebrities in the past, like Lil’ Kim’s famous purple one-shouldered catsuit with a sequin pasty covering the breast.
On Saturday, “The Central Park Five” will be screened at the ICA. The Ken Burns’ documentary explores the story of five black and Latino teenagers who were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park in 1989. After they spent many years in prison, a serial rapist confessed to the crime.
Central Park Five exoneree Raymond Santana will attend the screening and host a moderated discussion after the film at the ICA.
Also on Saturday, the popular Saturday Shorts Showcase will screen more than 30 short films at a host of galleries and museums, such as Candela Gallery at 214 W. Broad St., 1708 Gallery at 319 W. Broad St., and the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, 122 W. Leigh St.
“We started the festival as a monthly showcase where we would screen one short film at a gallery around town and bring in the filmmaker. That’s how we introduced ourselves to Richmond and developed relationships in the city,” Moon said. “It’s one of my favorite parts of the festival. And it’s nice to recreate that experience ‘times 10’ on a Saturday afternoon.”
The festival will also include a screening of “When I Get Home,” an experimental short film by singer-songwriter Knowles, at Candela Gallery on Saturday. The film was screened at the ICA earlier this month.
“There are very limited expressions of blackness in our culture. Our goal is to create spaces where black cinema is highlighted so that the full range of black experience can be seen and understood,” Moon said. “It’s important for everyone to feel that there are reflections of themselves out there in the world.”