Cap City Black Film Fest kicks off Thursday with ‘Cabin in the Sky’

One of the posters for the classic musical "Cabin in the Sky."
One of the posters for the classic musical “Cabin in the Sky.”

The Capital City Black Film Festival kicks off its third season this weekend, with more than 60 feature films and shorts — its biggest lineup yet.

The festival, which includes morning sessions focusing on filmmaking, takes place primarily at the Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road, and at the Brass House Jazz Club, 115 San Jacinto Blvd. It continues through Saturday.

The opening night event on Thursday will celebrate the 1943 classic film “Cabin in the Sky,” with a special screening at the Palmer. The movie stars Ethel Waters, Lena Horne and Louis Armstrong, among others. At 7:50 p.m., following a 6:50 p.m. reception, the Austin History Center will give a presentation, and there will be performances by Julius Tennon, the Spectrum Theatre, Pamela Hart and Carla Nickerson. A screening of the musical will follow at 8 p.m.

The first round of regular screenings begins at 11 a.m. Friday, with two screens showing compilations of shorts, while another screen shows two feature films, “Meat the Jones” and “T-Rex.”

“Meat the Jones,” directed by Maurice Thomas, has an offbeat premise: A family of black cannibals dine who dine on white homeless people. But the family’s traditions are upended when one of the members becomes a vegan and other people begin to look for lost loved ones.

“T-Rex” follows “Meat the Jones,” and it’s a documentary focusing on quite a different subject: Claressa Shields, the 17-year-old woman who won boxing gold at the London Olympics in 2012.

At 11 a.m. at the Brass House Jazz Club, two feature films, “The Productive Lie” and “The Big Beat,” will be paired with the short film “Stones.”

“The Productive Lie” focuses on a mechanic who is trying to juggle relationships with three women while trying to become an Internet radio personality at night. “The Big Beat,” directed by Joe Lauro, explores how Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew broke down racial barriers at the beginning of the rock ‘n’ roll era.

The next round of screenings takes place at 3 p.m. and includes the following films:

“But Not For Me,” a feature about a struggling writer who finds love in New York; the documentary “Hate Crimes in the Heartland,” which focuses on the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot and the 2012 Good Friday Murders; the documentary “Southeast 67,” dealing with 67 Washington, D.C., youngsters who are promised college scholarships but have to deal with violence, poverty and addiction; and the thriller “Beautiful Destroyer,” starring Numa Perrier as a ruthless assassin.

One of Friday’s biggest events will be the world premiere of “blackhats” at 8 p.m. It’s a thriller about a former bounty hunter who is trying to track down a group of cyber hackers. It stars Errol Sadler, Doris Morgado, Ted Huckabee and Neko Parham.

Saturday’s highlights include the documentary “Lords of BSV,” dealing with a new dance form called Brukup (11 a.m., Palmer); the documentary “Heart. Hunger. Hustle,” follows NCAA and WNBA champion Fran Harris as she coaches an 8th-grade girls basketball team during the summer heading to Nationals (11 a.m., Palmer); “Before the Border,” a drama about a bright young student who sets out to re-create a trek to the Canadian border, a la the old Underground Railroad, despite the efforts of a young rich student to stop her from getting there (11 a.m., Brass House).

At 3 p.m. Saturday at the Palmer, one of the highlights will be the screening of “Clipped Wings They Do Fly,” an inspirational tale and psychological thriller about a prosecutor who struggles to do his job when the subject in one case is a person diagnosed with multiple personality disorder.

The festival closes Saturday with an 8:15 p.m. screening at the Palmer of “Freeway: Crack in the System,” written and directed by Marc Levin. It shows how crack cocaine destroyed inner-city neighborhoods, with a focus on Freeway Rick Ross, a street hustler who became the King of Crack.

Passes for the festival range from $50 to $149, with single tickets available for some events. For more information, visit

Author: Charles Ealy

Charles Ealy edits and writes about books and movies for the Ausstin American-Statesman.

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