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Swarthmore Well-Represented at BlackStar Film Festival

Vishnu Gupta, Rodney Evans, Patricia White and David Molina Cavazos.

From left, Vishnu Gupta '18, Visiting Assistant Professor Rodney Evans, Eugene Lang Research Professor and Department Chair of Film & Media Studies Patricia White, and David Molina Cavazos '20 at the festival.

Faculty, students, and alumni affiliated with Swarthmore College’s Film & Media Studies Department showcased their work at the eighth annual BlackStar Film Festival last weekend. The four-day affair, which took place in Philadelphia, celebrates visual storytelling from black, brown, and indigenous filmmakers from around the world.

Visiting Assistant Professor Rodney Evans screened the Philadelphia premiere of his film Vision Portraits, an exploration of blind and visually impaired artists, including himself. David Molina Cavazos ’20, a film & media studies major from Hanford, Calif., had his documentary short, Hip Hop Showcase, accepted as well. Molina began developing the project in Evans’s advanced production course and continued working on it after the class had ended. The short follows three Swarthmore hip-hop artists and “provides a window into not just the lives of the individual students featured in the film but also the challenges that students of color more broadly experience at institutions like Swarthmore.”

“I received a lot of guidance from Rodney through the production course,” says Molina. “I submitted my project to BlackStar largely because of how much positive feedback I received from faculty and students who saw the rough version of the film at the end-of-semester screening.”

Selah and the Spades, written and directed by Tayarisha Poe ’12 and produced by Lauren McBride ’10 won Best Narrative Feature at the festival. The film, which is set in a prestigious boarding school and centers on a powerful student faction, was previously screened at the Sundance Film Festival and has been acquired by Amazon Studios for development as an original series.

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