The Blackhouse Foundation works to expand opportunities for Black filmmakers by providing a physical gathering venue for our constituents at the world’s most prominent film festivals, encouraging the inclusion of black filmmakers with films selected by the festival and creating a nucleus for continuing support, community, education and knowledge.
The Blackhouse Foundation was created in 2006 by a group of dedicated individuals interested in preserving and furthering the legacy of Black cinema. The Blackhouse® works to provide a platform for Black filmmakers, encouraging them to use their divergent voices to tell stories by and about people of African descent through independent film. We focus on the cause of Black artists and audiences because we are by and large Black in our leadership. However, our intentions are to be broad and inclusive – across distinctions of race and ethnicity.
The organization is geared towards dynamic industry networking, rigorous support, unparalleled education, and celebration for filmmakers of African descent and their audiences. The Blackhouse focuses on increasing the visibility and commercial success of films by, for and about people across the Diaspora.
Black filmmakers made history in 2007, the year The Blackhouse Foundation launched the Blackhouse® venue at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Blackhouse played host to over 150 daily visitors with more than 1,200 people visiting the venue throughout the festival. The Blackhouse was open to the public throughout the day, hosted workshops, a legendary nightly cocktail hour, a marquee party for Our Stories Films, LLC and launched a landmark fellows program for young, aspiring filmmakers.
The Blackhouse returned to Park City for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. As the presence of black voices increased in the independent film world, Blackhouse took on new physical prominence with a move to Main Street. Blackhouse played host to more than 200 daily visitors with more than 2,000 people visiting the venue throughout the festival. Once again Blackhouse was open to the public throughout the day, hosted workshops, our legendary nightly cocktail hour, a marquee party for HBO in honor of its films in the festival (The Black List, Sugar, The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo).
Although the Blackhouse did not have a physical venue at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival (who in Black America wasn’t in DC for Obama’s Inauguration?), the Foundation remained committed to promoting black films and filmmakers by “going virtual.” During the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, theblackhouse.org website guided virtual attendees through the experiences of filmmakers and attendees on the ground in Park City with the blog, Tweets, screening schedules, posted film trailers, interviews and more.
Blackhouse was back on the ground in Park City for the Sundance Film Festival in 2010, 2011 and 2012, presenting an array of panels and community gathering events. In addition Blackhouse introduced its signature programming to the Tribeca, Los Angeles Film and Toronto International Film Festivals.
Highlights of the last three years of programming include the following:
– 2010: Sundance Film Festival roundtable discussion moderated by Elvis Mitchell engaging filmmakers and executives in a discussion about the state of independent film for black women.
– 2010: Tribeca Film Festival program attracting the members of the New York filmmaker community for a rare gathering in celebration of the honored participants of the Tribeca All Access program.
– 2010: Los Angeles Film Festival partnership around screening programmed black films like “Night Catches Us” starring Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington.
– 2011 Sundance Film Festival: A conversation led by Elvis Mitchell with the legendary Harry Belafonte in the Sundance Filmmaker’s Lodge in.
– 2011 Tribeca Film Festival: We featured a conversation with Geoffrey Fletcher, screenwriter of Precious and celebrated the 2011 participants in the Tribeca All Access Program.
– 2011 Toronto International Film Festival: Kicked off our first year at the festival with a powerful panel entitled, “Social Issue Films: Getting Them Made & Seen.” Bill Duke, co-director of the festival featured film Dark Girls moderated. Panelists included co-director of Dark Girls, D. Chansin Berry, director of The Education of Auma Obama, Branken Okpako; screenwriter of Machine Gun Preacher, Jason Keller; and director of Color of the Ocean, Maggie Peren.
– 2012 Sundance Film Festival: Lisa Cortés led legendary rapper Ice-T in conversation about his career and directoral debut, “Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap.”
– 2012 Tribeca Film Festival: NYU Associate Dean Sheril Antonio led a dynamic roundtable discussion including producer Debra Martin Chase, director Rick Famuyiwa, director/producer Laurens Grant, director Rashaad Ernesto Green and producer Warrington Hudlin.
– 2012 LA Film Festival: A host of panels and discussions covering representation in the entertainment industry (including representatives from CAA, ICM, WME, Generate and Ziffren Brittenham), the art and responsibility of festival programming, a one-on-one discussion with rising producer Datari Turner.
– 2012 Toronto International Film Festival: A pair of panels focused on the nuts and bolts of international distribution for Black films and opening opportunities for Black filmmakers and crews across Canada.
In 2007 there were seven Black films at Sundance. In 2013 there will be 29 Black films and projects featured. In 2012 there were 21, in 2011 there were 31 and in 2010 there were 23. The impact of Blackhouse is being felt across the festival circuit and is translating into increased opportunities for black films and filmmakers.