It is with deep pain and distraught heartbreak the San Francisco Black Film Festival announces the death of its Director Kali O’Ray on Friday August 7, 2020, after a short battle with heart disease. The previous announcement that his death was related to COVID-19 was mistaken, and we apologize for the error. Festival organizers ask the public’s forbearance as O’Ray’s wife and co-director, Katera Crossley, and family plan details around observances for his untimely passing.
“Unalienable Rights” by filmmaker Froi Cuesta tells the story of the 1978 MOVE confrontation with the Philly police and all of the local politics surrounding it.
This year’s 21st annual San Francisco Black Film Festival was an elegant and epic occasion. Filmmakers from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Durban, South Africa, London, England Atlanta, Arizona, Macon, New York, Kansas, Los Angeles, as well as the Bay Area and more convened on Northern California’s most international city to look at recent films.
Two legendary thespians from Hunters Point and Fillmore, Ben Guillory and Danny Glover, are coming home with a film about their lives in theater. This is our story, and it is better to get history from the mouths of the people who made it.
The opening film for the San Francisco Black Film Festival this year is the much anticipated award winning “Guitar Man.” The main character, Buzzy Martin, taught music to prisoners at San Quentin and later took those experiences back to the at-risk youth that he taught and still teaches to this day.
“In Haiti, more than 750 privately run and unregulated institutions host an estimated 30,000 children, of which 80 percent are not orphans. In these unregulated conditions, children can be more susceptible to trafficking and other forms of physical and sexual abuse.”
The 15-minute political satirical comedy, “The United States of Paranoia,” by writer and director Rashan Castro is one of the crown jewels of the San Francisco Black Film Festival this year. Halfway through and thousands of police shootings and racial attacks into the Trump presidency, this film could not have picked a more relevant time to debut.
“Saltz” is hands down one of my favorite films in the San Francisco Black Film Festival, partly because it is half a Black horror film and half a “this can really happen” film. The film is a futuristic look at the coming drug saltz epidemic, in the midst of today’s opioid epidemic. It is also a look at our own attitudes on race where the story is told twice, once with a Black cast and one with a white cast. Check out first time director Dominique McClellan as he discusses his film, “Saltz.”
One of my favorite feature films in the San Francisco Black Film Festival is a futuristic film called “90 Minutes of the Fever.” The film is about a family who has to deal with a major computer virus, martial law and the ramifications that these catastrophes have on personal relationships within a family. It is a funny story about endurance, patience, acceptance, unconditional love and more. I talked to filmmaker Joan Carlson about her career in film as well as her power work of cinema art. Check her out in her own words.
Identity is a big topic in the Black community, because we live under white supremacist capitalistic domination here in the U.S. and in the so called Western world. In the dramatic short “We Love Moses,” sexual identity among Black people is what is being discussed in a way that is not often talked about. Check out filmmaker Dianne Edwards as she talks about “We Love Moses,” which was selected to screen this year at the San Francisco Black Film Festival.
On the second weekend of June this year, the San Francisco Black Film Festival will be celebrating its 19th year by screening over 100 independent Black films in this annual four-day cinema marathon. San Francisco Black Film Festival director Kali O’Ray, son of founder Ave Montague, sits down to discuss how it feels for the festival to celebrate its 19th birthday, the importance of indie films, remaining in a city that was once a lot more chocolate but has been gentrified to 3 percent Black – and more.
Parliament Funkadelic was the cultural symbol for Black music in the ‘70s – genre-bending, fun, cool, sexy, futuristic and political. Filmmaker Bobby Brown captured their epic history in his documentary “Tear the Roof Off the Mother,” screening Sunday, June 19, at the Boom Boom Room as a part of the San Francisco Black Film Festival. For a lineup of the films and events in this year’s festival, Thursday through Sunday, June 16-19, go to sfbff.org, and read about many of them here on sfbayview.com. Check out Bobby Brown as we discuss his film in this exclusive Q&A.
Director of the San Francisco Black Film Festival Kali O’Ray has already showed me a number of potential films that are in the running to be selected to be for this year’s festival; great films like “Codigo Color” about colorism in Cuba, “Hustler’s Convention” about some of the greatest protest poets of the last 50 years, the legendary Last Poets, “Tear the Roof Off,” the untold story of Parliament Funkadellic, and “Blackboard,” a movie about Black professional skateboarders.
The SF Black Film Festival is one of the film festivals that I most look forward to in the Bay Area every year. This year it is from June 12-15 at various theaters in San Francisco. It was founded by the late Ave’ Montague, and now it’s under the direction of her son, Kali O’Ray. Every year I’ve seen great films that don’t have the promotional budgets to reach a wider audience without the help of a festival like SFBFF.
The literary work of Robert Beck, aka Iceberg Slim, has captivated the imaginations of ghetto-dwellers for decades. Much different from the writings of Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison and Richard Wright, who all hold up a piece of the American pantheon of legendary Black writers, the work of Iceberg Slim was a chronicle into what was going on in the underbelly of capitalism, America’s ghettos.
There are two film festivals in the Bay Area that are famous for presenting excellent work by Black filmmakers: the Oakland International Film Festival and the San Francisco Black Film Festival. In a few weeks, thousands of people will be trailing into theaters all over San Francisco to check out what the SF Black Film Fest has deemed some of the best Black indie films of the year.