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Philly 360° Guide: BlackStar Film Festival Returns For The Fourth Year Of Screenings, Panels, Parties & More, July 31-August 2

  • Posted By: James Claiborne
  • July 29, 2015
    • BlackStar Film Festival returns in July.
      • BlackStar Film Festival returns in July.
      • Photo Credit: Courtesy of BlackStar

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 Films

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.

This is just a few of the scores of film screenings slated for the festival. You can browse our list of top festival picks or view the full 2015 BlackStar program guide online.

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.

    • BlackStar Film Festival returns in July.
      • BlackStar Film Festival returns in July.
      • Photo Credit: Courtesy of BlackStar


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.

Getting Around & Staying Over

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 for other must-see attractions and local dining options to check out while enjoying the festival.

BlackStar Film Festival
When: Thursday, July 30 through Sunday, August 2
Where: Various. See website for venue information.
Cost: $150 festival pass, $12 single tickets (additional discounts for seniors and students), Free screenings at ICA
More info:

    • BlackStar Film Festival returns in July.
      • BlackStar Film Festival returns in July.
      • Photo Credit: Courtesy of BlackStar

PHL Live 2015 Kicks Off At The TLA With Chill Moody, Kid Felix & Philly Fashion Week On Tuesday, August 18

  • Posted By: Ashley Coleman
  • July 27, 2015
    • BASSic Black Entertainment & Sigma Sound Present The Exclusive Philly After Party - Chill Moody
      • BASSic Black Entertainment & Sigma Sound Present The Exclusive Philly After Party - Chill Moody
      • Photo Credit: D. McDowell for GPTMC/Philly 360°

The cutting-edge musical initiative PHL Live Center Stage is back for the second year and they are kicking it off big at The TLA on South Street on Tuesday, August 18.

The large scale project launched last year and gave tons of musicians in the city the opportunity to have their music heard through contest and live concerts. Now partnering with Philly Fashion Week, this kick-off will feature fun, fashion and music by Philly’s own Chill Moody and Kid Felix.

PHL Live was developed and nurtured from the office of Councilman At-Large David Oh, the Chairman of City Council’s Committee on Global Opportunities and Creative/Innovative Economy. As way to bring more attention to the talented artists in the city, PHL Live consisted of multiple music competitions across 10 genre categories to give artists more platforms for exposure and opportunities to grow their brands.

This year’s competition will be open to entries on the day of the kickoff. PHL Live is inviting artists, bands and musicians of every genre to submit their original music for the opportunity to compete for amazing prize packages and other performance opportunities around the city.

The submission period starts on August 18 and runs through September 30. Artists interested in submitting will be able to do so at

In the meantime, be sure to grab your ticket to the kickoff celebration at the TLA. In addition to great music, there will also be a Philly Fashion Week fashion show to celebrate their upcoming 10th anniversary. PHL Live is blazing the trail and celebrating all of the great things happening across the city's creative economy.


PHL Live 2015 Kick Off w/ Philly Fashion Week: Chill Moody and Kid Felix
When: Tuesday, August 18, 8 PM
Where: Theater of Living Arts, 334 South Street
Cost: $10
More Info: Click here.

Must-Hit: Beyond Expectations - Engaging Men Of Color Featuring Black Thought, Rich Medina, Bernard Hopkins & More - Friday, July 31

  • Posted By: Philly 360
  • July 24, 2015
    • Philly 360° Creative Ambassadors Tarik "Black Thought" Trotter
      • Philly 360° Creative Ambassadors Tarik "Black Thought" Trotter
      • Photo Credit: Courtesy of the artists

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.

    • Rich Medina lounging inside of Silk City
      • Rich Medina lounging inside of Silk City
      • Photo Credit: photo by M. Roldan for GPTMC

“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.

Singer/Songwriter Lydia Rene Headlines The Soundcheck Series At Pub Webb - Tuesday, June 28

  • Posted By: Philly 360
  • July 23, 2015
    •  Lydia Rene
      • Lydia Rene
      • Photo Credit: Courtesy of the artist

As a singer, songwriter, musician and composer, Lydia Rene's versatility gives her music an undeniable rich sound.

The soulful singer/songwriter was raised right outside of Philly and cites Jill Scott as one of her influences in crafting her rich sound and poignant, positive music. She was raised in a musical family where the bare minimum was learning piano. Outside of her solo efforts, Rene has also been able to work with some talented artists in their own right.

She really began writing songs for others after a chance opportunity with producers Tejumold and Johari Newton who were a part of the classic Miseducation of Lauryn Hill project. She has worked and performed with artists like Eric Roberson, Jaguar Wright, Jean Baylor and more.

On Tuesday, July 28, Lydia Rene headlines the next edition of Pier Entertainments popular new artist showcase, The Souncheck Series at Pub Web.

The Soundcheck Series featuring Lydia Rene
When: Tuesday, June 28, 8 p.m.
Where: Pub Webb, 1527 Cecil B. Moore Avenue
Cost: $10
More Info: Click here for details.

Philly Youth Poetry Movement Brings Home First Prize For The 2015 Brave New Voices Competition

  • Posted By: James Claiborne
  • July 21, 2015
    • Philly Youth Poetry Movement
      • Philly Youth Poetry Movement
      • Photo Credit: Courtesy of PYPM

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; 

"PY! PM! Team black dashikis and war paint... Aahhh!"

You can learn more about Philly Youth Poetry Movement's programs and upcoming events at

Philly 360° Playlist: Julian King Releases His Highly Anticipated EP Sing For You

  • Posted By: Ashley Coleman
  • July 20, 2015
    • Julian King
      • Julian King
      • Photo Credit: Courtesy of the artist

The wait is over. Sing for You EP, the new EP of native Philly singer/songwriter Julian King is finally here. Since the project dropped last week, the entire city has been buzzing about the project. We're definitely here for it and bringing it straight to you for this week's Philly 360° Playlist.

The upbeat project showcases King's impressive, mature vocals, yet still maintains a fresh, young pop feel. Sing For You's R&B sound is versatile and highlights the writing of The TRND, which is made up of Kristal “Tytewriter” Oliver and Kris Murray. King and his team enlisted the help of heavy weight producers for the 7-song EP including GRAMMY-winner Bryan Michael Cox on “No Love” and GRAMMY-nominated Ivan Barias for “Mine.”

On the EP, Julian also showcases his songwriting skills as well — he is credited with co-writing all seven tracks on the project. An all-around musician and performer, King sings, writes, plays keys and guitar and can dance like no other. Under the guidance of Mama’s Boys Entertainment and Twenty20 Entertainment, King is coming for the top spot.

His single “No Strings” garnered over 51,000 plays on Soundcloud and continues to stand out as one of top tracks on the EP. King also recently released the smooth mid-tempo song “Unforgettable.”

In a recent trip to NY, King wowed the legendary SOB’s crowd at Sol Village, the monthly artist showcase hosted by singer/songwriter Eric Roberson, who is definitely no strange to Philadelphia music lovers. This week, Julian King is heading back to the Philly stage for a Tuesday, July 21 concert and album release at Pub Webb Live as a part of the popular SoundCheck Series.

Both a headlining performance and album release celebration, you are sure to be in for a treat. We’re hearing special guests! Grab your tickets now and take a listen to the Sing For You EP below and let us know what you think in the comments.

Must-Hit: R&B/Soul Singers Erykah Badu & Estelle Perform At The Dell Music Center In August

  • Posted By: James Claiborne
  • July 16, 2015
    • Erykah Badu
      • Erykah Badu
      • Photo Credit: Courtesy of the artists

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.

    • Estelle in Philly
      • Estelle in Philly
      • Photo Credit: D. Alfaro for Philly 360°

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.

And, she's worked very closely with celebrity media strategist Dyana Williams of Influence Entertainment and Radio One, as well as iconic hip-hop band The Roots.

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!

Check out our guide to all the must-see  R&B/soul concerts at The Dell Music Center.


Erykah Badu & Estelle
When: Thursday, August 13
Where: The Dell Music Center, 2400 Strawberry Mansion Drive
Cost: $20-$75
More Info:  Click here for tickets.

Contest: Win A Pair Of Tickets To Booze & Tattoos At The TLA On Saturday, July 25

  • Posted By: James Claiborne
  • July 15, 2015
    • Booze & Tattoos
      • Booze & Tattoos
      • Photo Credit: Courtesy of The TLA

Got Ink? On Saturday, July 25, one of Philly's favorite entertainment hubs, The TLA, will host some of the city's finest tattoo artists and tattoo wearers for Booze & Tattoos.

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.

You can read the official contest rules here.


Booze & Tattoos
When: Saturday, July 25, 8 p.m.
Where: The TLA, 334 South Street
Cost: $10
More Info: Click here for details.

Fill out my online form.

Must-Hit: Julian King Returns To Headline The SoundCheck Series At Pub Webb Live On Tuesday, July 21

  • Posted By: Ashley Coleman
  • July 15, 2015
    • Get to know singer/songwriter Julian King.
      • Get to know singer/songwriter Julian King.
      • Photo Credit: Courtesy of Julian King

As a part of the bubbling new event SoundCheck Series hosted by Pier Entertainment at Pub Webb Live, a brand new venue located near Temple’s Campus, singer/songwriter Julian King will headline on Tuesday, July 21. The new series has featured some of the most highly sought after acts in the area and King is set to deliver a full set with songs from the new EP and a few surprise guests.

The wait is almost over for the highly anticipated “Sing For You” EP which is due out Friday, July 17 and will be available for free download. The 7-track EP has records from producers like Bryan Michael Cox, B.A.M. and many more and has yielded high performing singles like “No Strings” and “Unforgettable.” This gives you just enough time for you to learn all the words and sing at the top of your lungs at the upcoming show.

UPDATE: Julian King's EP Sing For You was released last week. You can check out our feature on the Philly 360° Playlist here.

King recently wowed crowds at his performance earlier in the summer at The Underground Arts and on the Questlove Stage during Philadelphia's Wawa Welcome America festival. A Philly native, King is a product of the prestigious Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, which has yielded many great artists including Jazmine Sullivan, Boyz II Men, Black Thought and Questlove of the Legendary Roots Crew and many more.  

Staking his claim as one of the premiere artists to watch, it’s not hard to tell that this is only the beginning for Julian King. A well-rounded performer, King's live sets include dance, classical instruments and much more, so we can only imagine what he has in store for his upcoming Pub Webb concert.

Grab your tickets now, it will definitely be a show worth your while!

The SoundCheck Series featuring Julian King and Special Guests
When: Tuesday, July 21, 8 PM
Where: Pub Webb Live, 1527 Cecil B. Moore Avenue
Cost: $10 in advance, 21+
More Info: Click Here.

Philly 360° Playlist: Listen To "Gone" From Joie Kathos' New EP Floaters

  • Posted By: Ashley Coleman
  • July 14, 2015
    • Joie Kathos drops her new EP Floaters.
      • Joie Kathos drops her new EP Floaters.
      • Photo Credit: Courtesy of the artist

A young emcee from Philadelphia, Joie Kathos is showing no mercy and quickly rising to the top of the pack. In addition to gracing the cover of local magazine JUMP Philly, Kathos also recently celebrated the release of her brand spanking new EP, Floaters at the Rotunda in West Philadelphia hosted by radio personality, Mina Say What. On this week’s Philly 360° Playlist, we’re taking a listen to “Gone” from the new project.

From the very start of “Gone,” which was produced by Shocker G, Kathos captivates us with her quick flow and intricate lyrics. Telling the story of very personal experiences in her life, it’s refreshing to hear such honesty in music.

Kathos is very introspective and in many ways a bit ahead of her time at only 22 years of age. The title of her project was inspired by a scary moment in life when she had to have eye surgery based on seeing floaters and flashes of light. With a new lease on life avoiding a scare of possible blindness, Kathos got very clear about who she is and where she wants her music to go.

    • Joie Kathos drops her new EP Floaters.
      • Joie Kathos drops her new EP Floaters.
      • Photo Credit: @joshrunsphilly | Courtesy of Joie Kathos

A born performer, Kathos has been on stage since her childhood. Cultivating her style and honing her craft since then she has performed at Warmdaddy’s, The TLA, The Legendary Dobbs and many more venues in and around Philadelphia. She also had the opportunity to take part in Season 2 of The Glee Project on the Oxygen network where she made it to the Top 15 finalists for an opportunity to appear on Glee.

Clearly a driven, ambitious, young woman, we look forward to watching her career progress. Check out the latest single from Floaters, “Gone” below and let us know what you think in the comments.

Listen to "Gone' off Joie Kathos' new EP "Floaters."

Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene — June 12 - August 16

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: House balls have played a significant role in…

BlackStar Film Festival - July 30 - August 2, 2015

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: Hailed as “the black Sundance” by Ebony magazine, the…

Must-Hit: Beyond Expectations - Engaging Men Of Color Featuring Black Thought, Rich Medina, Bernard Hopkins & More - Friday, July 31

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…