Cassandra Freeman lead in Kinyarwanda, directed by Alrick Brown | (c) 2011 BROWN-ROSS Photography

NEW YORK, NY – September 14 – 18th marked the 15th Annual Urban World Film Festival presented by BET Networks. The festival founded by Stacey Spikes took place on 34th street AMC theater in New York City. Guest blogger, Parris Alethea give us her perspective on one of the biggest African-American film festivals in New York City.

Urbanworld Film Festival – Friday & Saturday, a bloggers perspective

By Parris Alethea

Full of energy from the previous evening’s open event’s, the UrbanWorld Film Festival, was buzzing with celebrities, excited actors, producers, and crew.  The Stars were all smiles as they spoke passionately about their films.  Lynn Whitfield and Mario Van Peoples lit up the red carpet with their interviews for All Things Fall Apart. In theatre number nine, the room was in awe of Sonia Sanchez and her documentary for Shake Loose My Memories. I started my evening with a picture with Khalil Kane, which made me very happy since I am an avid fan of his work (circa Love Jones, Girlfriends, Juice, and Living Single to name a few.)

Later on, I sat in the theatre for Van Peoples’ Film and was blown away by not only the cast performance, but the Q&A session did not leave a thing to be desired as Ms Whitfield candidly answered questions that were offered to her, with raw honesty.  I will not give away the movie, yet I will say, 50 Cent – who would have thought?

I ended my evening with the Legendary Sugarhill Gang, and I felt the roots of my Hip Hop culture come to life as I learned their story during their documentary  I Want My Name Back. It was an honor to sit in the theatre with the pioneers of hip – hop, while getting to understand their emotions, and turmoil during their rise to fame.

I will call Saturday, my CINEMATIQ day of culture (pun intended).  While the shorts took their places telling short stories in the most graceful way, I took a seat mid day at the  Restless City Premier.

The movie was visually stimulating.  Every shot that the camera took had meaning, giving life to the story.  The story had a feel of the late 70’s yet had today’s urban flavor.  Watching true African Americans, those who migrated to this country from Kenya, Nigeria, and maybe even some parts of the Caribbean made the cinema that much more real.

I ended my evening watching the powerful Kinyarwanda  directed by Alrick Brown.  Although the movie is taken during the civil war in Africa, the film was able to cover some serious issues that we even find here in the United States.  Cassandra Freeman glowed on the screen and  the red carpet as she spoke about her powerful role in the movie.

It was a great way to end my evening. I  wish I could have cloned myself to see more films than the limited amount I did see.  I left UrbanWorld this weekend in positive spirits, proud to call these actors, actresses, produces, and directors, by brothers and sisters.

ABOUT PARRIS ALETHEA: Parris Alethea is a lifestyle writer living in New York City.  Visit her on,



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