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The BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia has closed out its 9th edition by naming Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Miss Juneteenth as its best narrative feature.
The Sundance title has Nicole Beharie playing a former pageant winner focused on preparing her rebellious daughter for a “Miss Juneteenth” pageant. The ensemble cast for Godfrey People’s feature debut includes Kendrick Sampson, Alexis Chikaeze, Liz Mikel, Markus M. Mauldin, Lori Hayes, Akron Watson, Jaime Matthis and Phyllis Cicero.
Other film jury competition winners at the Philadelphia showcase for filmmakers of color include the best best feature documentary prize going to Stateless, where director Michele Stephenson explores racial hatred and institutionalized oppression that divides Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
And the best experimental film prize went to director Ja’Tovia Gary for The Giverny Document (Single Channel), which moves between the streets of Harlem and Monet’s historic gardens in Giverny, France to discuss the safety and creativity of Black women.
Last year’s festival saw the best feature narrative award go to Selah and the Spades, directed by Tayarisha Poe, and the best feature documentary award was picked up by The Infiltrators, directed by Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera.
The BlackStar Film Festival, which went virtual this year amid the Coronavirus pandemic, screened 90 films, including 24 world premieres, during its Aug. 20-26 edition. BlackStar tapped the digital distribution channel CineSend to stream the ninth edition’s film lineup online.