by Minister of Information JR Valrey, SF Bay View Oakland Bureau
The San Francisco Black Film Festival is one of the premiere Black events in Northern California for Black people in cinema. The film festival is filled with independent films that are screened at various theaters over a period of four days, opening Thursday, June 16, and closing Sunday, June 19. Cree Ray has been the director of the San Francisco Black Film Festival for two years. She took over after the passing of her father, Kali O’Ray, who took over from his mother, Ave Montaque. So the family legacy continues.
Check out Cree Ray as she talks about this year’s festival, which will have an in-person component as well as a virtual one.
JR Valrey: Can you talk about this year’s San Francisco Black Film Festival? What is this year’s theme? What will be special about this year?
Cree Ray: This year’s theme follows the theme of last year in that I am continuing the legacy but with an emphasis on continuing HER legacy. The thing I am most excited about is our Friday line-up, which is all about women – directed, led and summarized for us by women. We go deep into issues we face as women and also empower and lift each other up through it all.
JR Valrey: What theaters are you screening at this year? Why does the festival screen at theaters all over the City?
Cree Ray: This year we will be screening at 2505 Mariposa and at the AAACC (African American Art and Culture Complex) at 762 Fulton in the Fillmore district. The SFBFF screens all around SF so that we get visibility as well as being more accessible to all Bay Area and SF residents.
JR Valrey: What are five of your favorite film selections in different categories in this year’s festival?
Cree Ray: “Zinzun,” “#Freetobefree,” “We Were Hyphy,” “Prolyfryc,” “Highpower,” “How to Tie a Tie.”
JR Valrey: How did you choose what will screen in theaters and what will screen digitally in the San Francisco Black Film Festival?
Cree Ray: We had a panel of judges and a lot of Excel spreadsheets, to say the least! We all collaboratively viewed and rated films and had endless conversations about WHY this film was important and ultimately told a story that needed to be heard. There were lots of open conservations and a lot of debate. We will have all in-person films also available digitally, as well as over 15 others.
JR Valrey: What are some of the local films that you will be screening in theaters at the festival?
Cree Ray: “Pen to Pencil” and “Reggie and June”
JR Valrey: Are there any parties or happy hours organized this year as a part of the SFBFF? Where? When?
Cree Ray: For opening night, we have our opening party at 2505 Mariposa; this will follow the opening screening. We are looking into having some organized fun on Saturday at a local bar.
JR Valrey: What is screening at the San Francisco Black Film Fest on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19?
Cree Ray: We have 14 films being screened on Father’s Day, which include “Child Runaways,” “Reggie and June,” “Continuing a Legacy” and our feature film, “Black Daddy,” which is a Bay Area local film.
JR Valrey: Where can people see the listings?
Cree Ray: SFBFF.org. Our website is magically changing as we speak!
JR Valrey: Where can people buy tickets?
Cree Ray: We have our Eventbrite links live on the SFBFF.org website.