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Highlighting Black stories has always been the goal of Black Films Matter, and next February, AfroFuturism will be the main attraction.

According to Yahoo News!, the group has hosted several movie screenings over the years, and now its founders want to help Black filmmakers get their ideas from script to the silver screen.

Action News Jax Anchor Tenikka Hughes learned how they are drawing inspiration from Jacksonville’s past as they look to the future.

From screening major motion pictures like The Woman King to Kuongoza, the visual album of local artist Ebony Payne-English, Black Films Matter has been on a mission to reflect the beauty seen on-screen in real life.

Black Films Matter and AfroFuturism pushes our narratives forward

Trey Ford is a cofounder of Black Films Matter. Ford said, “The first time we did one in Jacksonville, it was for Queen and Slim and we actually had one of the actors come up and be a part of that screening as well. We’ve done Coming to America 2 as a big pop-up drive-in by Regency Mall. We even did the King Richard film and we did it here in the Jesse Ball DuPont Center.”

Black Films Matter is looking to expand its efforts by helping more independent Black filmmakers and screenwriters bring their art to the big screen — through Jacksonville’s first Afrofuturism Film Festival.

A son of the Sunshine state, Ford said, “It gives us the opportunity to imagine our future, how it is today, especially with what’s going on with our history as far as it being censored and you know, take matters into our own hands as far as learning and projecting what we want to see for Black culture in the future.”

Yahoo News! reports Ford says the desire to share Black films of the future is inspired by visionaries of the past. Jacksonville’s own Norman Studios was one of the country’s first silent film studios to produce films featuring African-American characters in positive, non-stereotypical roles.

Ford said, “So just to share like our creativity and our origin in this space is important for me and Norman Studios is the catalyst for that and the seed for that.”

Black movies last much longer than their run time

According to Colorado University‘s Reiland Rabaka, the director for the Center for African and African American Studies, “[Films] allow us to reimagine ourselves and maybe even the whole world,” he said. “I think that art often gives us glimmers of what ought to be, what could be and what should be right. That’s the power of film.”

“When Black voices are silenced, we miss out on stories that could teach us how to think deeply about our positionally within the imperial empire that is America,” said Skinner Myers, professor of cinema studies and award-winning director of “The Sleeping Negro” (2021). “We miss out on stories that could inspire us to pursue our dreams and to liberate ourselves from oppressive situations.”

Ford says the Afrofuturism Film Festival will take place during Black History Month in 2024. But in the coming months, Black Films Matter will host a short film contest open to people across the country.

Ford said, “One of the reasons we want to do it here in Jacksonville but open it up to the world is because we want people to put some respect on Jacksonville’s name as the original Hollywood.”

To learn more about Black Films Matter, click here.

To get more information on the Afrofuturism Film Festival click here.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...