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2023 Newark Black Film Festival

Call for Entries

The Newark Black Film Festival, July 12-16, 2023

Submissions are open for Short Films categories including:

  • Narrative, Documentary
  • Animation, Experimental
  • Web Series

Submit a short film (must be up to 30 minutes in length) through the Film Freeway page.

Earlybird entry (Deadline February 5): $25

Regular entry (Deadline March 3): $45

The Newark Black Film Festival, the longest-running Black film festival in the country, celebrates films that appreciate the historic significance of the Black experience in the United States. The Festival features late-night parties, live panel discussions, and exclusive screenings of films created in the last three years.

Since 1974, NBFF has presented the work of young, independent Black filmmakers, showcasing early films by the likes of Spike Lee, Ayoka Chenzira, Warrington Hudlin, Reginald Hudlin, Barry Jenkins, and Ava DuVernay. Past participants include luminaries such as James Earl Jones, Danny Glover, Pam Grier, Donald Bogle, Richard Wesley, Euzhan Palcy, and S. Epatha Merkerson.

Paul Robeson Awards 

In commemoration of the life and cinematic achievement of its namesake, the Paul Robeson Awards recognize up-and-coming Black filmmakers featured in the Newark Black Film Festival.

Winners receive a check for $500. A grand prize of $1,000 is presented to the best film of the Festival.

Entries will be screened by a panel of judges. Awards will be presented at the judges’ discretion. The judges may choose to withhold an award if they deem no entries worthy. Winners are asked to include “Newark Black Film Festival” in any of their subsequent publicity materials.

Rules & Terms 

To be considered for entry, film submissions must be original, released in or after January 2020, and be directed by a person who identifies as Black or tell a story of Black experience. Non-commercial or independent films where the filmmaker had control of the finished piece are preferred. Films produced for or shown on television or streaming are eligible if they meet the above criteria. If the length of selected works dictates, the screenings may be abbreviated.

Films produced in other languages or countries may be entered if they have an English-language soundtrack or subtitles, and meet the above criteria.

Entrant indemnifies The Newark Museum of Art/Newark Black Film Festival against possible copyright infringement resulting from screening or exhibition of works.

Selection Committee

Dale E. Colston

Patricia Faison

Jeff Friday

LeRoy Henderson

LeRon Lee

Millicent Matthews

Lisa Payne

Mary Sue Price

Yvonne Michelle Shirley

Ayana Stafford-Morris

Richard Wesley (Chair)

History

Since its introduction, the NBFF has provided a forum for writers, directors, producers, performers, and film patrons who enjoy African American and African Diaspora cinema. The goal of the Festival is to present programs that reflect the full diversity of the black experience both past and present, and encompass a wide range of forums and formulas from documentary to the avant-garde. Since its inception, NBFF has screened over 800 films to an audience of almost 180,000 adults and youth, including the work of young, independent, Black filmmakers, such as Spike Lee, Ayoka Chenzira, Warrington Hudlin, and Reginald Hudlin. Past participants include luminaries such as James Earl Jones, Danny Glover, Pam Grier, Donald Bogle, Richard Wesley, Euzhan Palcy, Ava DuVernay and S. Epatha Merkerson.

The NBFF started in 1974 with a touring black film festival that was put together by filmmaker Oliver Franklin who worked at the Annenberg Center for Communication, Art & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. The late Gus Henningburg, who was then the Executive Director of the Greater Newark Urban Coalition, learned about the festival and proposed it to The Newark Museum of Art.

In 1976 when the touring festival was no longer available, the Museum decided to produce the Newark Black Film Festival and established a selection committee, whose volunteer members represented important institutions in the community.

‘‘When we introduced the festival, few black filmmakers were successful in bringing their projects to the screen and those that made it, didn’t stay long,’’ said NBFF Chair Gloria Hopkins Buck, a charter member of the Festival. ‘’The founders were sensitive to the need for creative expression, and we did our best to make it happen. Challenges still exist but the quality of work and their artistic accomplishments on a global scale are changing the landscape.’’

‘’NBFF is a Festival unique for its longevity and the endearment in which it is held by patrons of more than a generation,’’ said Rutgers professor and historian Dr. Clement Price, also a charter member. ‘’ “It is also civic ritual that has witnessed the emergence of black film as a genre important to understanding multiple narratives about the human spirit.’’

Warrington Hudlin, President, Black Filmmaker Foundation said, ‘’The NBFF came into existence to fill the void left by movie theaters that were fleeing Newark and other inner cities throughout the United States. The real beneficiaries soon became the newly minted generation of young African American filmmakers who were graduating from film schools with films under their arms and looking for a place to screen them. And even today, if a filmmaker wants to put his or her film to a litmus test for authenticity, I say ‘screen it in Newark.’’’

Newark Black Film Festival ‑ Thursday, July 14, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival Opening Party ‑ Saturday, July 16, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival ‑ Thursday, July 14, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival Opening Party | Etta Denk, Bank of America ‑ Saturday, July 16, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival ‑ Thursday, July 14, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival ‑ Thursday, July 14, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

DJ Wallah, Marcy DePina | Newark Black Film Festival ‑ Thursday, July 14, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival ‑ Thursday, July 14, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival Opening Party ‑ Thursday, July 14, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival Opening Party ‑ Thursday, July 14, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival Opening Party ‑ Saturday, July 16, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival Opening Party ‑ Thursday, July 14, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival Opening Party ‑ Thursday, July 14, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival Opening Party ‑ Thursday, July 14, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival Opening Party ‑ Thursday, July 14, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival ‑ Saturday, July 16, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival ‑ Saturday, July 16, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival ‑ Saturday, July 16, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival ‑ Saturday, July 16, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival Awards Ceremony ‑ Sunday, July 17 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival ‑ Saturday, July 16, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival Awards Ceremony ‑ Sunday, July 17, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival Awards Ceremony ‑ Sunday, July 17, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival Awards Ceremony ‑ Sunday, July 17, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival After Party ‑ Sunday, July 17, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival After Party ‑ Sunday, July 17, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival After Party ‑ Sunday, July 17, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival After Party ‑ Sunday, July 17, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

Newark Black Film Festival After Party ‑ Sunday, July 17, 2022 | Photo by Chrystofer Davis

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