Martha’s Vineyard African American film fest has stars, streaming TV

Who’ll be on Martha’s Vineyard over the next week talking about movies and representation of people of color? For starters, look for actor/director Tyler Perry, activist Rev. Al Sharpton, actresses Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina Hall, directors Spike Lee and Kasi Lemmons, musician Bobby Brown, and TV’s Tamron Hall.

Over the past 20 years, the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival has grown from a start-up screening of 10 movies to an Academy Award-sanctioned, star-studded, nine-day event with several hundred films vying to be included.

The annual festival, back Aug. 5-13 to “celebrate 20 years of Black excellence in film,” has in recent years grabbed the attention of top production companies and cable and streaming channels — as well as the elite of Hollywood and history behind and in front of the camera.

Writer/director/producer Tyler Perry will bring his new movie, "A Jazzman's Blues," to the Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival in Oak Bluffs and do a post-screening Q&A.

At the start, “we knew that there was a need for representation on the big and small screen for people of color,” says Stephanie Tavares Rance in a joint phone interview with husband Floyd Rance, the co-founders of Run&Shoot Filmworks that produces the MVAAFF. “You flash-forward to 20 years later, now we’ve got over 700 submissions from all over the world, and narrow that down to 70. You can see the progress that has been made, and we’re happy to be a part of that.”

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