In the inaugural launch of the Chicago-based Black Alphabet's debut event, the community-based group is launching its first annual Black Alphabet Film Festival (BAFF) on July 2 and 3 at the Center on Halsted and Inn of Chicago.
Featuring a combination of nearly 20 shorts and features from around the world, the two-day event marks one of the first exclusively Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) and same-gender-loving (SGL) film festivals the city has seen.
BAFF also boasts a handful of screenings receiving their official Chicago premieres, including: Friend of Essex, a documentary meditation on the continuing influence of poet activist Essex Hemphill; Glitterboys & Ganglands, a documentary about transgender life on the South African beauty pageant circuit; and I Didn't Know Mark Carson, a short on the recent New York City gay hate-crime slaying.
Co-sponsored by Affinity, the Center on Halsted (COH), Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus (CBGMC), and United Black Pride the event is expected to be one of the highlights of this year's annual Chicago Black Pride festivities the week of July 4.
Established this year and named because of the mouthful naming LGBTQ/SGL inclusivity can be, Black Alphabet is a creative and entrepreneurial collective of Black sexual and gender minorities committed to art, culture, health and entrepreneurship in the "Black Alphabet" community.
Events like BAFF exemplify the collective's goal of promoting, highlighting, and discussing the ways the Black lives of sexual minorities are celebrated and represented in various creative forms across the African Diaspora, from film to theater, music to literature.
Accordingly, the opening night will feature a Q&A discussion with Friend of Essex filmmaker, Amir Dixon, and each evening of films will be rounded out with live performances by musical guests Drow Flow, Ken J. Martin, Storie Devereaux and GLAAD and OutMusic award-winning singer/producer Nhojj. In a nod to its community health mission, free rapid HIV and Hepatitis C screenings will also be offered by community partners COH, CBGMC, and Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN) on both nights.
Tuesday night begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted at the Hoover-Leppen Theater, in partnership with COH's LGBTQ young adult program, and Wednesday night rolls out more adult fare at the Inn of Chicago on 162 East Ohio from 6:00-9:30 p.m.
The two-day unity and affirmation performance event is free and open to the entire Chicago community. Organizers are urging people to arrive early on both days, enjoy the shows, and, as their tagline declares: "let no story be told without us."