Denton Black Film Festival Goes Virtual for 2021 – Local Profile
In 2013, Harry and Linda Eaddy were watching a screening of a documentary about goat cheese at the Thin Line Film Festival in Denton when he turned to his wife and made a comment about the lack of Black cinema being showcased. As aficionados of the arts, they’d been supporters of the Denton arts scene over the years and frequented exhibits at various Denton art hotspots such as the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center and UNT on the Square. Though Denton is known for its “independent spirit fueled by diversity,” the Eaddys had noticed a lack of representation. It had been disturbing them over the years. They became somewhat zealous about encouraging the small Black community in Denton to get involved with the local arts scene.
So it was no surprise when Harry told Linda, “We should do a Black film festival.”
Of course, they had never put on a film festival before and weren’t quite sure how to do it but knew that they could do it with the right people. They sought help from two staples of the Denton community: Cheylon Brown and Mesha George. And with the help of the Denton African American Scholarship Foundation, where Harry serves as president, the Denton Black Film Festival kicked off its inaugural event in 2015 at Campus Theatre in downtown Denton.
Six years later, the Denton Black Film Festival has grown from nearly a thousand attendees at Campus Theater to several thousand people across several locations. Along with films celebrating Black culture, the festival now showcases arts, music, and spoken word poetry.
“We knew that even if Denton has a small Black population, the festival isn’t just for Black people,” Linda says. “It is about sharing the culture; that was our intention.”
the COVID effect
And while it has grown to celebrate and showcase Black culture, COVID-19 is forcing the festival to adapt virtually to the COVID reality, which experts claim may be affecting us until next summer, projecting nearly 250 million infected worldwide and 1.75 million dead.
They originally planned to host a hybrid festival in January. But neither Campus Theater or Alamo Drafthouse are allowing in-person viewing due to COVID-19. So the festival will be virtual this year. They’re also expanding their virtual offerings and including a new category: screendance, a new visual language in short film dance media.