Black Haven Film Festival returns to New Haven for second year

It’s a celebration of representation, art and the artists who create it, and it’s returning to New Haven for its second annual event. The Black Haven Film Festival is set for Sept. 18 in the Dixwell Plaza in New Haven, and starting at 7 p.m., the festival will showcase nominated short films created by local Black filmmakers. 

Black Haven founder and executive director Salwa Abdussabur said in an email that the festival is "the fulfillment of Black Haven’s vision for a collaborative space where Black art is supported, funded, seen, celebrated and held at the status it rightfully deserves."

The festival is also meant to be a forum for Black artists to network and highlight their work, according to Black Haven lead festival curator and creative partner Isaiah Edwards.

“We wanted to create a safe space where Black artists could showcase their work and be connected as a community,” he said in an email, adding that he believes Black creatives have long been “suffocate[d]” and their stories “stifle[d].”

This year’s featured artists include Brennan Maine, a multi-media artist focusing on putting the natural world in the digital space; Gerald Lovelace, a choreographer, cinematographer, photographer and creative director from Meriden; Karl D. Gray, Jr., an artist who uses photography, poetry and filmmaking; Jeffrey Dobbs, a UConn graduate with a 3D animation focus; and Kolton Harris, a multidisciplinary artist who is a program manager in the CT Office of the Arts. 

Abdussabur and Edwards noted that those in attendance can expect “raw emotions and communal self-reflection” from the works of this year’s featured artists and see art beyond the mainstream. 

“We hope that attendees take away the fact that grass-roots, community-based art is just as valid as art coming out of elitist institutions,” Abdussabur said. “We want to continue to build opportunities for Black artists to showcase their work in a way that has never been seen before.”