This year, the Urbanworld Film Festival marks 15 years of groundbreaking cinema. On Sept. 15, Black Hollywood came out in full force to celebrate the organization at New York City's 34th Street AMC Theater.
The kickoff for Urbanworld was Nelson George's highly anticipated documentary Brooklyn Boheme, which highlights the rise of the Black arts scene in the Fort Greene area of Brooklyn. The film’s co- director, Diane Paragas, jokingly called the movie a “Blackpino Production,” stressing the multi-ethnic merger she (Filipino) and George created. When introducing Brooklyn Boheme, Paragas praised Urbanworld and stressed "urban" is not just a ”Black thing," but a movement of all backgrounds who want to be empowered.
This year's festival ambassador, Mario Van Pebbles, shared his thoughts with BET.com on the importance of supporting independent films. “You cannot have an independent vision and take studio money. The only way you can have an independent movie is with independent money. That is why it is so important to see films that are not homogenized, pasteurized or dumbed down.”
Spike Lee and Chris Rock both came out to support Brooklyn Boheme. Rock’s Good Hair screened at Urbanworld two years ago and the celebrated comedian raved, “It’s a great event! Lots of up and coming filmmakers, writers and cinematographers. I always come out to check out the new talent." Lee added, “Anytime a festival can share new films, new artists and new directors with an audience, it’s a great thing."
Other celebs in attendance included Meeka Claxton of Basketball Wives, Grammy winner Maxwell and Miss Black USA 2010, Osas Ighodara.
Other films to be screened at Urbanworld are 50 Cent’s All Things Fall Apart and Zoe Kravitz’s Yelling to the Sky.
Click here for details on how to check out this year's films at the Urbanworld Film Festival.
(Photo: Courtesy of Jerome Shaw)