The Black Alphabet Film Festival ( BAFF ) opened July 24 at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Chicago. Now in its third year, the festivalwhich celebrates films about the Black LGBT communityhas seen immense growth from its humble beginnings.
"The way that it came about was a group of friends discussing cultural events for the Black LGBT community, something beyond going to clubs," said Brenikki Floyd, the festival's chair. She has worked with the BAFF since the beginning, and is proud of its burgeoning success. "We've gained momentum," she said. "I think we've laid a solid foundation."
It's a sentiment echoed by BAFF Vice Chair Langstan Smith, who said he is "very excited, because it's been a long ride. We never expected for it to expand as quickly as it did. We went from looking at YouTube videos ... [to] taking submissions" in the second year, he said. "We were actually kind of overwhelmed with the response that we got, because we had not only national films, but we actually had some international films come in."
While not all of those films fit BAFF's remit of centering the Black LGBT community, many did, with nearly 40 films, ranging from animated shorts to feature documentaries, being showcased over four days.
Among those was director Nneka Onuorah's The Same Difference, which Floyd said sold out July 25. "[Onuorah] saw the need to address issues that deal with discrimination in the Black lesbian community," including issues surrounding gender roles and expression, she said.
While no directors were present opening night, several were expected to appear throughout the film festival. And with the expansion from two nights to four, both Floyd and Smith are excited for the festival's future.
"This is a time for our voices to be heard," Floyd said.