The Black August Film Festival will be held on Saturday, August 13-14 in Pasadena, California

by Nadira JamersonAugust 9, 2022Print

Filmmaker Dennis Haywood believes in self-discipline. When I spoke to him, he was on his third day of fasting in support of Black August, an annual, month-long remembrance of Black freedom fighters and political prisoners that highlights Black resistance against racial oppression.

“We fast for them in the month of August, and we pray and meditate in the morning, and you only eat before sunrise and after sundown. It’s a time to reflect, and meditate, and honor the people who have come before you in the struggle for freedom,” Haywood says. 

He’s referring to the sacrifice of the Black Panthers and activists George and Jonathan Jackson — two brothers who were executed in California in 1971 as an act of anti-Black state violence and systemic oppression.  

Since the first Black August in 1979, Black folks from around the country have used the month to recognize what the Jacksons went through and to promote principles of revolutionary discipline, self-sacrifice, and inner fortitude. 

“The number one thing that people need to know about Black August is that it’s really a time to refresh your mind, and your spirit, and your body, and your soul as Black people.”

DENNIS HAYWOOD

“The number one thing that people need to know about Black August is that it’s really a time to refresh your mind, and your spirit, and your body, and your soul as Black people,” Haywood says. “It’s something we created. It’s not a month that they gave us. It’s about the struggle and freedom, and we need to take it more seriously as a whole Black people.” 

To amplify that message, Haywood decided to launch the Black August Film Festival, a two-day-long event that elevates films about the Black experience and social issues around the world. 

The inaugural festival will be held in Pasadena, California, on August 13 and 14. It will feature nine foreign and domestic films and documentaries by and about Black folks dedicated to struggles for Black liberation.

Haywood says he chose to build the festival around the theme “mood of militancy,” which seeks to praise the efforts of Black folks who have been willing to give their lives and give their own freedom to expand and protect the freedoms of the Black community. 

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