Film Fest: Beyond Us: Black Minds in Horror

Spoiler alert: The Black Guy Doesn’t Die First!

‘Beyond Us: Black Minds in Horror,’
a collection of films curated
by award-winning horror author
and Staff,
Crystal Connor,
will screen Feb. 16-17

by Sumiko Saulson

“Suffering from multitudes of negative stereotypes, minorities have not traditionally fared well in horror movies. While these negative interpretations still exist, things have begun to improve. Thanks to creators of color, and voices from other marginalized communities, we are now the heroes of our own stories … and no longer are we the first to die,” says Crystal Connor, curator of “Beyond Us: Black Minds in Horror.”

“Beyond Us: Black Minds in Horror” takes place Sunday, Feb. 16, and Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, over the President’s Day Weekend at Artists Television Access, 992 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, 415-824-3890, from 7 to 10 p.m. on each night. It is a part of the Bay Area Black Independent Film Festival (BABIFF), which is one of Iconoclast Production’s February offerings, along with the African American Multimedia Conference.

During the two-day film festival there will be two special guest filmmakers: Kevin Craig West, flying in from New York, and Meosha Bean, flying up from Los Angeles. Organizer and horror video blogger Crystal Connor is flying down from Seattle. We are still raising money to cover travel and hotel funds for these participants. Email the organizer at if you are willing to help.

Sunday, Feb. 16

7:00 p.m. Special Guest Kevin Craig West

Award winning actor-filmmaker and proud member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA. When not on camera or stage, he enjoys producing, directing, writing and coaching. He also enjoys sharing his talents as a teacher-artist and has worked with many arts in education groups including Theatre for a New Audience, Only Make Believe and Symphony Space. Kevin is the owner of the production company, MoBetta Films, an advisory board member of WAM Theatre as well as Lake Placid Film Forum, former president of Upstate Independents and has served as assistant director of FilmColumbia Festival.

7:15 p.m. ‘The Groundskeeper’

Kevin Craig West stars as “The Groundskeeper” in this short film by Nichole Eckenroad, taking place in Pearl River County Lunatic Asylum, Mississippi, in 1920. Run time: 11 minutes

7:26 p.m. ‘Distractions’

A suspenseful short – in this Twilight-Zone style parable about distracted driving, Dick just can’t stay off the phone. Run time: 6 minutes

7:32 p.m. ‘I Hate Being Black’

Drama short – a conversation amongst buppies about the struggles associated with blackness. Run time: 11 minutes

7: 44 p.m. ‘Orphaned’

After being missing for almost a year, Allen McAvoy returns home to find a family falling apart, and his adopted brother Steve taking care of his wife. The death of his adopted parents sparked his disappearance, and now everyone wants answers, including his biological sister. As a fight over the family inheritance brews in the background, both brothers are thrust into a world where their loyalties to one another and their country are ferociously challenged. Will they be able to mend their own small world, or be a part of the destruction of the world at large? Run Time: 85 minutes

9:00 p.m. ‘Colors in Darkness’

“Colors in Darkness” is an experimental award-winning documentary by Sy Shanti that’s entirely composed of stock footage, stock images, stock sounds and self-recorded interviewee videos of African American authors, writers and content creators discussing the genre of Horror in books, TV and film. Run time: 1:01:51 minutes

Monday, Feb. 16

7:00 p.m. Special Guest Meosha Bean

Meosha Bean is an award-winning actress and filmmaker, voted best upcoming director in 2012 at the New Jersey Film Festival. Owner of MVB Films, established in 2003, her projects include “Dark Rises” (2013), which has an all-star cast, and “Miss Pepper” (2013), a short film that gained almost 30,000 views in one week upon release. Join her for a series of shorts and Q&A.

“Mr. Nightmare: Nightmares That Read into Reality” is directed by Meosha Bean. Run time: 3:12 minutes

“Nightmare at the Cinema: Scary Stories”: We all enjoy going to the cinema to watch a good movie, but let’s not forget about the creeps that go to the movies to watch us instead. Director is Meosha Bean. Run time: 4:55 minutes

7:30 pm ‘Danger World’

In “Danger World” by Luchina Fisher, a 13-year-old girl and her grandpa struggle to survive in a zombie-infested world. Run time: 18:41 minutes

7:50 p.m. ‘White’

In “White” by A. Sayeed Clark, it’s another 120-degree day with five more days to Christmas and hot is the only season left in New York City. Global warming has become a tangible threat and everyone is creating new ways to protect themselves from the sun. Bato and his wife Gina are expecting a baby, but they weren’t expecting it so early. Although they planned to have the baby at home, Gina now requires the services of a clinic for the premature delivery. With no money for the clinic, Bato enters into a race against the sun, the birth, his community and even his own identity to save his family. Run time: 15 minutes

8:05 p.m. Intermission

8:20 p.m. ‘Penelope’

“Penelope,” dreamed up by Maris Wilson, is a modern-day witch – a Venefica, to be exact. Today, in the middle of an isolated forest, she must endure the mystical rite of passage that determines whether her abilities will be used for good or for evil. Run time: 7:29 minutes

8:28 p.m. ‘Wake’

“Wake” by Bree Newsome tells the tale of a repressed woman who murders her domineering father, then, using a local folk magic called “root work,” she conjures a demon to aid her in creating the man of her dreams – but soon finds herself in a waking nightmare. Run time: 21:29 minutes

8:50 p.m. ‘Gorenos’

In Clarence Williams’” Gorenos,” a young man becomes haunted by a supernatural entity in the wake of his 18th birthday. Influenced by films like “Scream,” “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Paranormal Activity,” Gorenos is a fresh and self-aware entry into the horror genre that boasts a hip and diverse cast of new and established talents. Run time 1:21:29 minutes.

Bestselling author Sumiko Saulson writes award-winning multicultural sci-fi, fantasy, horror and Afrosurrealism. Winner of the 2017 Afrosurrealist Writer’s Award, 2016 HWA Scholarship from Hell, and 2016 BCC Voice Reframing the Other Award, (he)r monthly series Writing While Black follows the struggles of Black writers in the literary arts and other segments of arts and entertainment. (S)he is gender non-binary. Support (he)r on Patreon and follow (he)r on Twitter and Facebook.

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