The Dentonite's Guide to Denton Black Film Festival

The successful Band Together Denton kicked off Denton's 2017 lineup of festivals, and days later Denton Black Film Festival will run from January 25th through the 29th. Proceeds from Denton Black Film Festivals ticket sales go to charity with the Denton African-American Scholarship Foundation as the beneficiary. 

In addition to more than 40 films being screened, the festival will also have music, comedy, spoken word, and slam poetry performances. They also look to have a profound effect on the community with a multimedia exhibition on police brutality by Christopher Blay at UNT on the Square. It's a festival experience meant for the entire region as Denton can expect plenty of film supporters from Dallas and Fort Worth to attend. Here are a few scheduled highlights of the fest that you shouldn't miss.


Thursday, January 26th - 7 pm - Silver Cinemas at Golden Triangle Mall
I Am Not Your Negro directed by Raoul Peck - The opening film is a powerful documentary that won the People's Choice Award when it premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. Presented is author James Baldwin’s perspective on the civil rights movement fought by Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, and other leaders of the cause whose words are as relevant as ever while the race discussion is ongoing. As stated in the narration by Samuel L. Jackson, “The story of the Negro in America is the story of America. It’s not a pretty story.” DBFF provides a great opportunity to watch this film before it opens nationwide in theaters.

Friday, January 27th - 3:15 pm - Campus Theatre
Jackson directed by Maisie Crow - In the capital city of Mississippi, women seeking a legal abortion only have access to one facility. It's in fact the only abortion clinic in the entire state. The film engages with three key figures: director of Jackson Women's Health Organization, Shannon Brewer, a young mother named April Jackson facing a fifth and unplanned pregnancy, and Barbara Beavers who is a leader of the anti-abortion movement. 

Friday, January 27th - 5:15 pm - Campus Theatre
Competitive Short Films Block 3 - We strongly recommend this short film block that includes The Letter Carrier (directed by Jesse L. Martin). A musical steeped in dark fairytale folklore, Martin's film tells the story of a family hiding from slavery in the mountains of Virginia. 

Saturday, January 28th - 4:45 pm - Campus Theatre
Jerico directed by Seckeita Lewis - The director hails from Chicago but is currently living in DFW. Lewis' narrative feature follows best friends, Jerico Walker and Jarvis Cook, as they set out on the morning of the signing of the civil rights act of 1964 with aspirations to capture the newly available Paper Press Manager promotion. But when their car breaks down all hell breaks loose. With the dangers and bias of an unrelenting Jim Crow South in rural Mississippi along with a menacing lynch mob in hot pursuit, a simple trip to work becomes an outright fight for survival. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017 - 12:30 pm - Campus Theatre (free community screening, y'all!)
The Caged Bird: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price directed by James Greeson - No pass is needed for this documentary about Florence B. Price, a pioneer for African-American women in music composition. See how she busted through obstacles of racism and earned having her music performed by the Chicago Symphony at Chicago's World's Fair.

Sunday, January 29, 2017 - 1:45 pm - Campus Theatre
The Land Beneath our Feet directed by Sarita Siegel and Greg Mitman - This award-winning documentary feature is a deeply researched film. It details the 1926 Harvard expedition to Liberia that investigated medical and environmental effects of Firestone industrializing a large swath of land. Co-director Greg Mitman has spent the past decade unearthing the true story of this scientific venture.


Friday, January 27 - 9 pm - Patterson-Appleton Arts Center
Comedy Show - If you’ve been enjoying the numerous local comedy events, then you’ll enjoy DBFF treating Denton to a pair of comedians named Derrick Keener and Alfred Kainga. Keener has a talent for impersonations and just may treat the audience to an improvised song. Kainga is originally from Zimbabwe and has developed a comedy style combining his African heritage and experience as an immigrant in the US.

Saturday, January 28th - 8 pm - Patterson-Appleton Arts Center
Ashleigh Smith in Concert - Ashleigh Smith, a UNT alumna and winner of the 2014 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocals competition, performs her R&B music with a jazzy edge. The Ella Fitzgerald-inspired singer has come a long way since she first started out performing in cover bands, and she doesn’t show any signs of slowing down her music career. Opening for her is Quentin Moore, a former UNT athlete who first performed on campus with gospel rappers Lecrae and Tadashi. Experience this lineup’s musical message of love at the PAAC on the evening of January 28th.

Saturday, January 28 - 9 pm - Black Box Theatre
Poetry Slam Competition - A $20 entry gets you into a poetry slam contest with a maximum of 15 participants. Interested poets should contact This event is moderated by Verb Kulture, and it's Denton's best chance to see great local poets.

Arts and Community

Wednesday, January 25 - 6-8 pm - UNT on the Square (free to the public)
KWTXR Art Exhibition and Opening Reception featuring Christopher Blay - KWTXR is an exhibit of drawings, photographs and video by Christopher Blay. KWTXR (based on the fictitious character KaraWalkerTexasRanger) is a body of work that memorializes African American victims of police shootings over the past 25 years. Its central theme is a fantasy narrative in which the character time travels and reverses the outcome of the victim’s confrontations with police. Key elements of the fantasy narrative co-opt religious symbols and rituals, combined with conspiracy theories and science fiction as a way of dealing with the collective frustration and heavy sense of loss that these events have created. An opening reception on the evening of January 25th will be attended by the organizers of DBFF and feature Blay speaking about his work.

Friday, January 27 - 3:30 pm - UNT on the Square (free to the public)
Workshop: A Conversation with Ya'Ke Smith - Aspiring filmmakers can attend a free workshop hosted by director and UTA film professor Ya’Ke Smith. Smith’s work has been featured on HBO, and his short films “Wolf” and “One Hitta Quitta” have been screened in various Denton film exhibitions. Smith never stops working, and his event is free. Student filmmakers with no money should not miss out on this opportunity.

Saturday, January 28 - 10 am - Patterson-Appleton Arts Center
Panel: Women in Entertainment - Here is an opportunity to spend the morning with a panel of dynamic industry insiders who will share thoughts on the training, tools and connections needed to find success in the competitive business arena. Attendees will leave with meaningful insights that will inspire them to take their professional goals to the next level. Sybil Wilkes, co-host of Tom Joyner Morning Show, will serve as the moderator.

If you'd like to dig deeper into the schedule, visit their Prekindle page which also outlines the various types of passes available (senior and student discounts are offered). Be sure to follow their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all social media updates. 

Header image design by Brittany Keeton