For the past six years, the community of Denton has kicked off the new year by celebrating diversity.
There’s only one event that could bring people of all ages and backgrounds out of their homes in the winter weather to watch films, laugh at comedians and enjoy live music each year.
It’s the Denton Black Film Festival.
“It’s the place where stories are told through art, music, comedy, spoken word and film,” festival director Harry Eaddy said. “We do two things at the festival: we share black culture and we build community.”
This year, the five-day event will be held Jan. 22-26. The film, art, music and other showcases will take place in multiple venues across Denton over the week, and are open to anyone who would like to attend.
“One of the things we really emphasize is that our festival is not just for black people; it is for everybody,” Eaddy said. “We just happen to share black culture and we want people to know more about black culture.”
There are a few exciting additions to this year’s festival, including the first-ever Interactive Expo. The expo will be at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Denton Convention Center.
“We’re going to showcase a number of companies with artificial intelligence, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality and smart cities,” Eaddy said. “When you go to a festival like South by Southwest, they have a very large interactive component. That’s what we’re going to have as well.”
Some of the other new aspects of the festival include an interactive art exhibit by Vicki Meek, and a stand-up comedy competition this year with prize money.
Also, for the first time, the festival will open with a jazz performance by featured artist Jazzmeia Horn in the Margo Jones Performance Hall at Texas Woman’s University.
Eaddy is excited about these new additions and another year of promoting diversity and inclusion, which he believes is one of the festival’s most important functions.
Attendee Michael Gibson Jr. agrees that the festival is an experience of inclusion and diversity. The University of North Texas alumnus began attending the festival in 2017. In 2019, he had the opportunity to return as a filmmaker. The short film he co-wrote, titled Alora, was named First Runner-Up in Short Film last year.
“It’s so much more than just about film,” Gibson Jr. said. “It’s about culture and bringing together the art, the music, the films. Not to knock the other festivals that I’ve been to, but I could just tell it was something special.”
Eaddy hopes attendees have as positive an experience as Gibson had, and that they leave the festival with a broader understanding of black culture.
“It’s an experience, not an event,” Eaddy said. “Part of the reason why I say that is because when you come you get to see aspects of culture in all of those areas: film, art, music, spoken word and comedy. Then you begin to understand more about the cultural significance.”
Denton Black Film Festival
2020 dates: January 22-26
Film screenings: Campus Theatre and Alamo Drafthouse
More info: dentonbff.com