The third annual Black Warrior Film Festival will take place Feb. 13, 2015, on The University of Alabama campus and in downtown Tuscaloosa, showcasing student films from across the Southeast and award-winning industry professionals. The three-day event is free and open to the public.
Through screenings and workshop events, the festival will celebrate the work of award-winning filmmakers Tom Heller, Ya’Ke Smith and Margaret Brown, as they all share their films and perspectives with the UA community, like last year’s featured filmmaker Ava DuVernay, whose recent film “Selma” has received multiple Golden Globe and Oscar nominations this year.
Tom Heller served as executive producer of the 2014 Oscar-nominated picture “Foxcatcher,” in addition to other critically acclaimed films, such as “127 Hours,” “Precious: Based on the Novel
‘Push’ by Sapphire,” as well as the coming-of-age drama “Mud,” which will be featured at this year’s festival. Heller will personally introduce the film at the finale event at the Bama Theatre, Sunday, Feb. 15, with the screening set to begin at 4 p.m. and an awards ceremony to immediately follow.
The festival will kick off Friday, Feb. 13, at The Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center at 7 p.m. with a spotlight on featured filmmaker Ya’Ke Smith. Smith is an award-winning filmmaker whose films have screened and won awards at more than 80 film festivals worldwide. Smith’s newest short, “dawn.”, will premiere in February on HBO and is one of the selected works he said he will be sharing with festivalgoers.
“The work I’ll present will arrest you with the truth, move you to action and hopefully force you to look at yourself and the larger world with more complexity,” Smith said. “If I leave the university community with nothing else, my goal is to leave them knowing that art not only imitates life, but art birthed from the soul can change lives.”
Students’ work will be showcased in multiple screening blocks throughout Saturday, Feb. 14, at The Ferguson Center Theater on the UA campus. Universities represented include Duke University, Florida State University, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Alabama. Categories of accepted films include narrative, documentary, music video and experimental.
Filmmaker Margaret Brown will present her award-winning documentary “The Great Invisible” at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14, at The Ferguson Center Theater and interact with audience members for a Q&A following the screening. Brown recently won the 2014 SXSW Documentary Competition’s Grand Jury Prize for her film.
The executive staff of Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival will comprise the feature panel event, taking place Saturday at 11 a.m. in The Ferguson Center. Later in the evening, the festival will present a screening of the indie hit “Juno” at The Ferguson Center Theater, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day. The 2007 Academy Award nominee for Best Picture will begin at 7 p.m.
Each featured filmmaker will host either a lecture or workshop throughout the festival weekend.
For more information, please visit the website for a complete schedule of these events, which are all open to students and community members alike.
Dr. Rachel Raimist, co-director of Creative Campus and assistant professor in UA’s department of telecommunication and film, said the Black Warrior Film Festival is an opportunity for student filmmakers to connect with people in the industry and make a positive impact on the Tuscaloosa community.
“The festival gives filmmakers from all over the region the opportunity to share their work with an audience and provides the ability for talented students to connect with each other,” Raimist said. “Black Warrior brings the Tuscaloosa community a rich and culturally diverse event to attend that celebrates the talent of young storytellers and artists.”
For more information and a full schedule of events, please visit www.blackwarriorfilmfest.com.

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