Your guide to Philly's diverse creative scene, nightlife, music, food & more
This Thursday, July 30, BlackStar Film Festival, the brainchild of Philly 360° Creative Ambassador Maori Holmes, kicks off its four-day celebration of independent black cinema.
Attracting movie-lovers, filmmakers, directors and actors from around the country, BlackStar shines a light on the full range of contemporary black films that are currently being produced around the world.
Now in its fourth year in Philadelphia, BlackStar runs through Sunday, August 2 with screenings of more than 60 films and a host of panel discussions, workshops and free events that explore life through the lens of the global black experience.
Returning to West Philadelphia again in 2015, the popular festival presents its core programming at two University City-based cultural hubs: International House Philadelphia and the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania.
If you’re looking for what’s now — and next — in black filmmaking, then make sure to check out this Philadelphia-born cinematic fête over the weekend.
Read on for our guide to the festival.
The BlackStar Film Festival screens films of all sort — feature films, documentaries, short films in addition to a number of Philadelphia premieres.
On Thursday night, movie-goers can enjoy the feature length mockumentary Red Bone Guerillas, which chronicles the fictional rise of a counterculture art group of the same name. Friday, the evening screenings will culminate with Jimmy Goes to Nollywood, a newly released documentary that gives viewers an inside look on Nigeria’s booming film industry.
Saturday, BlackStar celebrates the life’s work and impact of legendary Philadelphia poet Sonia Sanchez, with a screening of BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez.
Additionally, throughout the four-day festival, attendees can enjoy a number of free programs at the Institute of Contemporary Art, a popular city museum that offers free admission and programs year-round.
For more on the BlackStar Film Festival, see below.
Once again anchored in University City, the majority of this year’s screenings and programs will take place at two cultural venues: International House Philadelphia and the Institute for Contemporary Art.
With additional BlackStar screenings, programs and after parties being held at popular Philly venues, including World Cafe Live, Franky Bradley’s and Pipeline Philly, the festival continues to fill public spaces across the city with the very best in today’s black cinema.
For more on the venues, check here.
Tickets for individual films are $12 for general admission and $8 for students and seniors. For those looking to catch all of the action, full-festival passes, $150, are available online. Individual tickets and festival passes are available online and can also be purchased at the International House box office.
BlackStar has partnered with two University City hotels, Sheraton Philadelphia and The Inn at Penn, to offer discounts on rooms during the 2014 festival. Both festival hotels are within walking distance from the main festival venues.
You can also explore overnight lodging options with the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package™. This two-night package includes free hotel parking so you can drive into town and not have to worry about finding and paying for parking.
While in town, be sure to browse this University City neighborhood guide on visitphilly.com for other must-see attractions and local dining options to check out while enjoying the festival.
Philly! On Friday, July 31, The City of Philadelphia and First Person Arts will team up to address hot-button, timely and relevant issues affecting black males through personal storytelling and performance.
That evening, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, anchored along Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts, will host a must-hit program headlined by Tarik 'Black Thought' Trotter, lead MC of hip-hop legends and hometown favorites, The Roots.
Along with Black Thought, BEyond Expectations: Engaging Men of Color will feature Philly-based DJ and producer Rich Medina, celebrity boxer Bernard Hopkins, along with a curated list of local storytellers and community members. Together, the group will share real-life inspired stories that shed light on the true perspectives of African-American males here in Philadelphia, and beyond.
“African American men in the country face unique challenges,” said Dr. Arthur C. Evans, Commissioner of the DBHIDS. “By giving them a forum to tell their stories in their own voice, the city will be able to better address their mental health and wellness needs.”
A pre-event reception invites the general public to meet with Engaging Men of Color creator Commissioner Dr. Arthur C. Evans and a post-show talkback will allow audiences to talk about ways the City of Philadelphia can help promote health and wellness in the African American community.
Tickets for this event are $15, but Philly 360° has partnered with First Person Arts to provide a $10 discounted ticket for our followers. Simply enter the code PHILLY360 at check out. There are a limited number of discounted tickets available, so grab yours now. We'll see you there!
BEyond Expectations: Engaging Men of Color
When: Friday, July 31, 8 p.m.
Where: Suzanne Roberts Theater, 480 S Broad Street
Cost: $15, Discounted $10 with the promotion code PHILLY360
More Info: Click here for details.
Philadelphia has just brought home another big win! Last week, thousands of youth poets from around the globe, descended upon Atlanta, GA for the annual Brave New Voices Competition. For the ninth consecutive year, the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection was repped strong by a talented team of youth organized by Philly Youth Poetry Movement.
Well, we're proud to announce that Philly Youth Poetry Movement, affectionately known as PYPM, was once again awarded the Brave New Voices first place prize and is bringing home one of the coveted titles for the fourth time since 2006. We're definitely Philly proud of this stellar team's accomplishments!
The winning squad, comprised of nine of PYPM's top poets, was formed through a series of slams competitions held at The Rotunda and other venues for area students. Each of the BNV2015 award-winning poets competed in a series of regionals and semi-finals and ultimately made it to the main stage of the Suzanne Roberts Theater in May to compete in the 2015 Philly Youth Poetry Movement finals.
A heated, moving and entertaining competition, PYPM finals saw some of the city's fiercest youth poets take the stage to battle it out, sharing powerful, often personal stories and messages through performance poetry.
Started in 2006 by Philly-based poet and arts advocated Gregory Corbin, Philly Youth Poetry Movement has impacted the lives of thousands of teens through its yearlong schedule spoken word events, programs and workshops. No stranger to the Brave New Voices competition, PYPM slam teams brought home the 3rd place title in 2006, first place in 2007 and 2011 and was featured in a Brave New Voices HBO special during the 2008 conference in Washington DC.
You can hear more from Corbin below and be sure to check out the PYPM Youtube channel for performance recaps.
Another monumental win for Philly Youth Poetry Movement and the entire city — join us as we celebrate the 2015 PYPM winning team with their signature pre-show chant;
You can learn more about Philly Youth Poetry Movement's programs and upcoming events at pypmphilly.org.
After slaying her headlining performing at Roots Picnic 2015, the reigning queen of new school soul, Erykah Badu returns to Philadelphia for a must-see live show at The Dell Music Center in Fairmount Park.
Badu has deep roots in Philly and mad love for our Philly-born talents. Over her careers she's worked alongside legendary Philly talents, like Questlove and James Poyser of The Roots, to craft her signature style of afrofuturistic, throwback soul.
And yes, there's no question about it — Philly definitely loves Badu back.
The August 16 show at The Dell will also feature a performance by UK pop/soul diva Estelle — who is certainly no stanger to the Philly music scene. She's worked with some of Philly's top producers, like Carvin & Ivan of Forever Music and Mama's Boys Music Group, Pop & Oak of Goooooooo!!! Music and Starr Island Group, Vidal Davis and Andre Harris.
Philly 360° last caught up with Estelle when we followed along as she hit a few of her favorite Philadelphia shops. You can check that video out below.
So, August 13, all roads lead to The Dell for another can't-miss concert under the Philly summer sky. Grab your tickets soon, this one is guaranteed to sell out fast. Let's go!
Philadelphia's newest tattoo-centric celebration, Booze & Tattoos is centered around tattoo culture and other relevant subcultures with a fun pageant component and plenty of spirits to share. A full-fledged Philly party, this event will feature live music by Dibbs & the Detonators, The Workhorse III and Dj SnKpaK, in-house tattooing and a live tattoo pageant featuring tattoo enthusiast donning some of Philly’s finest designs.
Want to join in the fun and attend this inked-up party? Great, because we're hooking up a few lucky readers with a pair of tickets to the show. Just complete the below entry form for your chance to win.
It's back. Hailed as “the black Sundance” by Ebony magazine, the 2015 BlackStar Film Festival makes its return to Philly for a fourth round of cinematic awesomeness.
From July 30 to August 2, BlackStar will once again put Philly on the map as a go-to destination for black filmmakers and film lovers, alike. With the release of the 2015 schedule, BlackStar continues to build buzz and gain attention and accolades from industry creatives, film buffs and press here in Philadelphia, and beyond.
For year four, BlackStar Film Festival returns to University City, anchoring the festival at three locations; International House, Institute for Contemporary Art and World Cafe Live. World premieres, interviews with filmmakers, a short films series, in-depth workshops, mixers, plenty of free events and more — BlackStar 2015 has got it all.
The festival pass is $150 and grants holder access to all of the events, including the closing ceremony at World Cafe Live. Tickets for the individual screenings are $12 with discounts for students, seniors and International House members. Also, be sure to check the schedule to get details on BlackStar's free screenings and panel discussions at ICA.
To get you started, we've pulled together a list of our top picks for this year. You can check out our picks and the film descriptions from blackstarfest.org, below. But seriously, with a lineup like this, you'll want and need to see it all.
So, grab your movie-loving crew, spread the word and come out to experience this Philadelphia-born treasure firsthand. We'll see you there!
4:10 p.m., International House
Chronicling the story of nine young Brooklynites over the course of one day, this complex debut feature from writer-director Nefertite Nguvu tells their stories of personal growth and the power of choice and action. MORE INFO & TICKETS
7 - 11 p.m., City Tap House
Join BlackStar the Opening Night Reception. Mingle with filmmakers, special guests and community supporters for a special evening kicking off the 4th BlackStar Film Festival. Music by DJ Mr. Femstar of WORLDTOWN. MORE INFO & TICKETS
8:25 p.m., International House
Shot in 2002, Red Bone Guerrillas chronicles what happens when fictional filmmaker Bonita Evans sets out to document acting legend Magenta Bergenstein, and stumbles upon the beginnings of the counterculture performance art group, the Red Bone Guerillas. MORE INFO & TICKETS
11:30 a.m., Institute of Contemporary Art
This workshop examines the design process involved in the visually and poetically arresting film, In The Morning. The panel includes writer/director Nefertite Nguvu and her collaborators: costume designer Neshea Lemle and production designer Susan Linss as they discuss their process in establishing the world of their contemporary Brooklyn-based characters. MORE INFO & TICKETS
3:40 p.m., International House
From Panama to Nigeria and across the African diaspora, communities and individuals alike perform daily practices and elaborate rituals to call on the spirit world for guidance. This program presents shorts that depict a diverse array of such stories, from the memories of elders in Bahia, to the personal journey of a queer gender non-conforming Nigerian back home to connect with Orisha. MORE INFO & TICKETS
8:45 p.m., International House
Not known to many, Nollywood is one of the largest movie producers putting them ahead of Hollywood and just behind India’s Bollywood. The Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis makes his directorial debut with this documentary, taking us on a journey that gives us insight into the heart of burgeoning African cinema. MORE INFO & TICKETS
3:20 p.m., Institue of Contemporary Art
The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, directed by Yaba Badoe, explores the artistic contribution of one of Africa’s foremost woman writers. The film charts Aidoo’s creative journey over a life that spans seven decades, from the early years in colonial Ghana and the tumultuous era of independence to a more sober present-day Africa. MORE INFO & TICKETS
6 p.m., International House
For 80-year-old poet Sonia Sanchez, writing is both a personal and political act. BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, a performance-packed documentary, reveals Sanchez’s singular place in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. Appearances from Questlove, Talib Kweli, Ursula Rucker, Amiri Baraka, Ruby Dee, Haki Madhubuti, Ayana Matthis, John Bracey, Jr. and Bryonn Bain. MORE INFO & TICKETS
8:20 p.m., International House
In this deft cross between romantic comedy and family drama, three sisters gather in their North Florida hometown for the Christmastime wedding of the youngest one. The trio struggle with the expectations they face as women—in marriage, motherhood, romance, and their relationships to their opinionated mother. MORE INFO & TICKETS
2:55 p.m., International House
The first feature-length documentary about the Tony and Pulitzer-winning playwright August Wilson is based on unprecedented access to Wilson’s theatrical archives, rarely seen interviews with family members, and new dramatic readings of his work by renowned actors, including Viola Davis, Charles Dutton, Laurence Fishburne, James Earl Jones, Suzan-Lori Parks and Phylicia Rashad. MORE INFO & TICKETS
3:40 p.m., World Cafe Live
The shorts in this program push the boundaries by using Afrofuturism and magical realism to tell alternative stories. Loyalty and vengeance come to a head in a hip-hop creationist story; a young woman escapes her own reality by watching the girl next door from the isolation of her captivity; and a jazz musical score overlays images that draw parallels between Salvador, Brazil and Harlem, New York. MORE INFO & TICKETS
7 p.m., World Cafe Live
The BlackStar Closing Awards is the highly anticipated finale for the Festival. Hosted by Monie Love, the show will feature special guest presenters and musical performances by Ethel Cee, Navasha Daya, Norvis Jr., and Phonte, backed by an ensemble directed by Luke O’Reilly and DJ Mr. Sonny James. Filmmaker/journalist/activist dream hampton will also receive the Richard Nichols Luminary Award. MORE INFO & TICKETS
Philly! The soulful music duo Floetry has reunited for a summer tour, which lands in Philadelphia this month. The long awaited homecoming reunion concert between the “Songstress” Marsha Ambrosius and the “Floacist” Natalie Stewart is going down right here in Philly at the popular South Street music hub, The TLA.
As honorary Philadelphians — by way of London — both Stewart and Ambrosius made the city their home shortly after moving to the US. The group gained popularity during the neo-soul era of the early 2000s, and would later go on to record two studio albums, one live album, and to garner multiple GRAMMY nominations.
Once the group announced their July 17 show at The TLA, tickets flew and the show sold out in a matter of weeks. Luckily for us, they've added a second show on Sunday, July 26, and we've landed a pair of tickets to giveaway to one lucky fan.
If you want in on the show, then "all you gotta do is say yes" — and submit the below entry for form your chance to win big.
If you missed our on the first show, or just don't want to leave it up to fate, then see the below concert details for a link to purchase tickets online now. Either way, we're hyped for this reunion. #WeInThere
Music Makes Me Happy is bringing their first artist showcase to Voltage Lounge in Philadelphia on Wednesday, July 22nd. A multiple city showcase, the Philly show is packed with the area’s best including John Graves, BriaMarie, Suzann Christine, and Youssef Kromah.
The night is packed with exciting segments including an opening performance from Jacqueline Constance. GRAMMY-nominated producers Ivan Barias and Carvin Haggins will also be presented with the Music Makes Me Happy Community Award.
Hosted by Joshua Nelson this night will be full of great music and it’s all for a great cause. The proceeds from the event will help fund Music Makes Me Happy education initiatives in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Los Angeles.
Music Makes Me Happy is the brainchild of Joshua Dingle. Between apparel, networking events, and musical performances, Music Makes Me Happy creates community among people with one common love, music. Their support for the arts is creating a movement. Artists like Jazmine Sullivan, Da Truth, Lecrae and more have been spotted rocking their apparel.
Come out to support not only great artists from Philadelphia that will sing your socks off, but also a great cause! Grab your tickets now, the first 50 RSVPs will get a special Music Makes Me Happy Gift Bag!
Music Makes Me Happy Artist Showcase
When: Wednesday, July 22, 7 p.m.
Where: Voltage Lounge, 421 N 7th Street
Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the door
More Info: Click here.
Philly, are you ready? No one does Independence Day like we do, and Philly 360° just got some news about some dope music that will go down on July 4th.
Not only are The Roots headlining the Wawa Welcome America! Philly 4th of July Jam —nation's biggest free concert—alongside of Miguel, MKTO, Jennifer Nettles and more. But, they're also bringing you a second stage packed with talent to warm you up for the main event that night.
Yup, we've just got our hands on the lineup for the Questlove Stage, which is part of the Party on the Parkway. We're definitely loving the talent Quest picked out. Once you get a look at the lineup, you'll definitely want to be front and center for this one.
So, who made the cut for the Questlove Stage? Find out below.
GoGo Morrow has been making big waves over the last year with her solo music. She has landed opening spots for Brandy, Lauryn Hill, Common — and even for the short lived Danity Kane reunion that we were all swooning over. GoGo was also one of the first acts added on to Marsha Ambrosius' national Friends & Lovers music tour. With each move GoGo solidifies her spot as one of the next artists from Philly that is destined to blow up and take the world stage by storm. Check out GoGo's feature on the Philly 360° Playlist.
A graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Julian King comes from a musical family, which undoubtedly contributes to his undeniable talents. A dancer, musician and exceptional vocalist, there is not much King can’t do. Definitely one of the most-talented indie acts on the Philadelphia scene right now, it won’t take long for Julian King's movement to gain some serious traction. Check out Julian King's feature on the Philly 360° playlist.
Get to know Philly-based singer/songwriter Kate Faust. One of the newer names from the city's booming music scene, Faust stepped out into her own with her latest EP, Eros. Fittingly, Faust named her latest album Eros after Greek mythology's God of Love. Faust knew early on that she wanted her voice and music to stand out from the crowd. And, with each new project she delivers, we've seen the singer/songwriter create something new and exciting. Check out Kate Faust's feature on the Philly 360° Playlist.
Discovered by Diplo and Paul Devro of Mad Decent, Swizzymack is one of the premiere sounds behind Philadelphia's club music scene. His debut EP Bass was released on Mad Decent’s imprint in June 2013. Since then, Swizzymack has brought his thumping bass drops and hyperactive tempos to airwaves and parties around the country.
Max Swan takes the saxophone to new levels with works with dozen of groups from around the country. He's on a mission to forever alter public perception about the saxophone and for the past 15 year the young saxophonist has worked his way to earning over two dozen local and nationally recognized soloist and composition accolades, including the "Michael Brecker Saxophone Award", "Rick Lawn Arrangers Award", and the "Collaboration Award" through The University of The Arts.
Born just outisde of Philly, Cody Kahmar draws influences from a wide range of acts, including Dru Hill, Boyz II Men, Usher, Paramore, Lil’ Wayne and Drake. The singer/songwriter made a name for himself at open-mic nights across Philadelphia, eventually opening for Kid Cudi at Temple University’s homecoming. He's also collabed with West Philadelphia emcee Chill Moody on a record entitled “My Eyes,” which earned over 25,000 YouTube views in less than three months.
The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, affectionately known as CAPA, has birthed some of the greatest acts to come out of Philly. Count them — Questlove, Boyz II Men, Tyce of MPrynt, Jazmine Sullivan, GoGo Morrow and more. Catch the next generation of music all-stars when this student performance hits the stage.
One of the busiest and most-respected artist on the Philadelphia music scene, Laurin arrived in Philadelphia to study at the University of the Arts. After touring as a background vocalists for Philly soul artists, Jaguar Wright, Bilal and Vivian Green, Talese turned her attention to her own solo career, eventually signing with Blackstone's music label and production company, BASSic Black Entertainment (BBE).
Through BBE, Laurin released three must-hear singles, including her latest song "This Love," which is available on iTunes.
So, if you're looking for your next favorite weekly jam with a great cocktails, a stellar view of the city and some of the best music Philly has to offer — then this event is for you. We'll see you there.
Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene When: June 12-August 16 Where: African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street Cost: $14, adults; $10, youth (4-12 years), students, seniors More info: www.aampmuseum.org House balls have played a significant role in…
BlackStar Film Festival When: July 30 through August 2 Where: International House, 3701 Chestnut Street; See website for additional venues. Cost: General Tickets TBA, Festival Passes $100-$150 More info: www.blackstarfest.org Hailed as “the black Sundance” by Ebony magazine, the…
BEyond Expectations: Engaging Men of Color When: Friday, July 31, 8 p.m. Where: Suzanne Roberts Theater, 480 S Broad Street Cost: $15, Discounted $10 with the promotion code PHILLY360 More Info: Click here for details. Philly! On Friday, July…
Kevin Hart: WHAT NOW? Tour When: Sunday, August 30, 8 p.m. Where: Lincoln Financial Field, 1 Lincoln Financial Field Way, Philadelphia, PA 19147 Cost: $55-155 More Info: Buy tickets online here. Superstar entertainer, actor and native Philly funnyman Kevin…