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Film Series

2021 Visions of the Black Experience Film Series Announced

| Petra Ratner |

The third annual Visions of the Black Experience film series is taking place from November 12th to the 21st, 2021. The series, offered for free, is a hybrid program with both in-person and online screenings and events. The festival celebrates and illuminates the historical, social, and cultural aspects of black life through film.

Film Series

Visions Of The Black Experience 2021 showcases over 40 feature and short narrative and documentary films, focused on vital themes like the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the growth of Black music from jazz to house, and social justice.

The series is a collaboration involving the Sarasota Film Festival, the Boxser Diversity Initiative, the New College of Florida, the Multicultural Health Institute, and the Manasota ASALH, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Visions of the Black Experience features the locally-produced crime thriller MONOPOLY MONEY, as well as the romantic drama MAYA AND HER LOVER, and the documentary HORROR NOIR: A HISTORY OF BLACK HORROR, an untold story of Black Americans in Hollywood horror movies.

The series is also proud to screen ONE PINT AT A TIME, the story of Black brewers, brand owners and influencers across the country who are reshaping the craft beer industry, and MENDING WALLS, an uplifting documentary about 30 artists from different cultural backgrounds who collaborate on murals that become symbols of hope for the future.

The historical features shown this year include INVISIBLE HISTORY, a new film on the little-known history of plantations and slavery in North Florida, 100 YEARS FROM MISSISSIPPI and AN OUTRAGE about the history of lynching in the South, as well as SNCC, the story of student-activism amid the struggle for civil rights. Another great standout is FINDING FELLOWSHIP, the remarkable story of three racially segregated churches coming together in the wake of Martin Luther King’s assassination.

Music-themed films consist of the documentary CITY OF A MILLION DREAMS about New Orleans jazz funerals, WOODSTOCK OF HOUSE, the story of the rise of Chicago house music, RIVER CITY DRUMBEAT, a powerful story of the Black youth drum corps, as well as number of great shorts.

In 2021, the film series also highlights Black experiences around the world, with documentaries from Germany (KING BANSAH AND HIS DAUGHTER), South Africa (JOURNEY OF THE GOGOS), and Brazil (ANASTACIAS).

The program is rounded out by classic films WATERMELON MAN, a tribute to the late Melvyn Van Peebles, and the seminal sci-fi comedy BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET.

While the festival will feature weekend live screenings at Sainer Pavilion on New College of Florida campus, most of the films will be available online for the duration of the festival at Live screenings will follow established COVID-safety protocols in line with New College of Florida and CDC recommendations.

The panel discussions will focus on healthcare in the Black community in light of the pandemic, historical legacies, and shine a special spotlight on young filmmakers, with the introduction of the first Visions of the Black Experience Emerging Filmmaker Scholarship. Live Q&A’s with filmmakers and educational opportunities will offer a deeper exploration of the themes of the festival.

Film Series

Funding for Visions of the Black Experience has been provided by the lead sponsor The Community Foundation of Sarasota County, with additional financial support from the Boxser Diversity Initiative and the New College of Florida Foundation.

Dr. Lisa Merritt, of the Multicultural Health Institute, said:

“Visions of the Black Experience is part of a longstanding tradition showcasing multicultural perspectives we can all enjoy and learn something new from. The cinema has been a long-standing source of entertainment and healing, both sorely needed during these current times. “

Mark Famiglio, Co-Founder and President of the Sarasota Film Festival, shared that: “The Sarasota Film Festival has enthusiastically co-presented the Visions series since its inception and we continue with unflagging support for the very talented filmmakers and storytellers it showcases!”

Bill Woodson, PhD, Dean of Outreach at New College, stated:

“While the contributions of Black people have profoundly shaped American and global culture for centuries, Visions provides an immersive opportunity for insight, reflection, and appreciation, as well as entertainment.”

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Media contact: Petra Ratner – (941) 920-3455,

Photos from Sarasota Film Festival

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