It’s the Best of African and African-American filmmakers and stories at the 2017 New York Film Festival 55 — September 28 to October 15

Seven films with black star power will make their impact on the 2017 New York Film Festival — running from September 28 to October 15, 2017. And that includes an evening with director Ava DuVernay (October 6th) who will choose an artist to join her for a special onstage conversation, which will include wide-ranging discussion about the state of the cinematic arts.  

The overall festival is built around a thoroughly vetted main slate culled from films seen in top global festivals (and meant for theatrical runs) but, this year, has many drawn from the streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon. ell.

This year, the 55th edition of the New York Film Festival will also feature the Convergence section (which runs from September 29 – October 1). In its sixth edition, the highly anticipated annual program delves into the world of immersive storytelling via interactive experiences, and features virtual reality, augmented reality, live labs and demos, and more.  From October 6th-9th, the Projections section screens eight features and eight shorts programs which present an international selection of film and video work that expands upon our notions of what the moving image can do and be

Among the 18 days of the fest, check out these picks of the must-see films at the 2017 NYFF:

“Mudbound" by writer/director Dee Rees

This is a historical epic about a failing economy of Mississippi during the World War II era. Two families, one white (the landlords) and one black (the sharecroppers) work the same miserable piece of farmland. A Netflix release.

“Félicité” directed by Alan Gomis 

A feature made by a French director of Guinea-Bissauan and Senegalese descent. This story is set the Congo where a woman named Félicité (Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu) scrapes together a living as a singer in a makeshift bar (her accompanists are played by members of the Kasai Allstars band).  

“Boom For Real - The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat” directed by Sara Driver 

A look at Jean-Michel Basquiat's life pre-fame, and how New York City, the times, the people and the movements around him formed the artist he became.

“The Rape of Recy Taylor” directed by Nancy Buirksi 

From the Spotlight on Doc section comes this film about Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old black mother, and sharecropper, who was gang-raped by six white boys in 1944 Alabama — something that happened far too often in the Jim Crow South. Recy Taylor bravely identified her rapists.                                               

“Tonsler Park,” directed by Kevin Jerome Everson

On Election Day, 2016 Everson’s 16mm camera quietly observed a community of mostly African-American voters and volunteers at a local polling precinct in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“The Mike Henderson program” (Projections)  

A singular cinematic figure, San Francisco's Mike Henderson became one of the first independent African-American artists to make inroads into experimental filmmaking in the 1960s.

“Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?” by director-screenwriter-producer-editor Travis Wilkerson  

Another Spotlight on Doc film, this unique production tries to answer how is it that some people escape the racism and misogyny in which they are raised, and some cling to it as if it were their reason for existence? This film/theater hybrid investigates the creator’s great-grandfather's killing of a black man in 1946.

“Piazza Vittorio” directed by Abel Ferrara

Also in the Spotlight on Doc program, this film illuminates the African musicians and restaurant workers, and others who call Rome’s biggest public square, Piazza Vittorio, (built in the 19th century) home.