Celebrating the Tapestry of African American Cinema

October 10, 2023 (Pittsburgh, PA) – The Black Bottom Film Festival (BBFF), proudly presented by Citizens, returns for its sixth edition, illuminating and celebrating the rich tapestry of African American cinema. This dynamic event, scheduled from October 27th to October 29th, 2023, promises to be a radiant beacon for cinema enthusiasts and cultural aficionados alike.

President of the AWAACC, Janis Burley “When we started embarking on a film festival program six years ago, we knew there was endless potential to give artists a voice to share perspectives on the challenges and triumphs of Black life around the globe through film.  This year, we start with the origins of Black people in front of and behind the camera with Oscar Micheaux to the future with graduate students at Howard University film school. We are grateful to Citizens for sponsoring the 6th edition of the Black Bottom Film Festival.”

In a unique collaboration with the Micheaux Film Festival, the AWAACC has curated 3 days of film screenings and panels. BBFF showcases a diverse array of films that encapsulates the essence of Black life. From timeless classics that have stood the test of time to championing independent works, BBFF delves into profound themes such as spirituality, race, familial strife, honor, duty, and the relentless struggles of the working-class. These themes resonate deeply with the narratives found in August Wilson’s American Century Cycle plays.

“We take immense pride in curating the 6th edition of the Black Bottom Film Festival, while also celebrating our partnership. It is both an honor and a privilege to collaborate with the brilliant minds at the Center, led by the visionary leadership of Janis Burley. Their invaluable contributions to preserving the legacy of August Wilson and nurturing emerging filmmakers, in conjunction with our joint efforts with the Micheaux Film Festival, serve as a true testament to resilience, pride, and the embodiment of black cinematic excellence.” said festival curators, Courtney L. Branch and Noel Braham

Furthermore, BBFF pays homage to the trailblazers of African American cinema, those who pioneered the way and carved out space for future generations. It serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of those who dared to dream and create in an industry that often sought to suppress their voices. We will be honoring the pioneer Jacqueline Stewart with the Black Bottom Film Festival Luminary Award.

This festival is not just a celebration of cinema; it is a vital platform for dialogue, reflection, and a deeper understanding of how Black filmmakers wield the power of art to inspire, challenge, confront, and reshape American culture itself. BBFF is a dynamic celebration of reclamation, a testament to the indomitable spirit of Black artists who represent a vibrant expression of the ongoing Black Renaissance.

Every film screened is a reaffirmation of our right to tell our own stories, and a testament to the unyielding resilience of Black creativity. The festival week includes workshops, panels, and receptions, offering a comprehensive view of the evolving landscape of African American cinema. We are partnering with Howard University to present films by Howard alums and graduate students curated by professors in the film department.

A new addition this year, Citizens presents a panel discussion Reel Money: Building Pittsburgh’s Film Economy. This thought-provoking event aims to explore what it will take to elevate Pittsburgh to the ranks of cities with thriving film and television economies, such as Los Angeles, New York City, and Atlanta.

Join us for an insightful and free discussion around the challenges and opportunities for creating a world-class, diverse entertainment workforce. As we gather to exchange perspectives, we’ll also focus on identifying opportunities to attract more film projects to Pittsburgh, fostering a thriving creative economy, and igniting workforce development through impactful production initiatives. This event is an integral part of BBFF, aiming to amplify Black voices, inspire change, and build bridges within Pittsburgh’s burgeoning film community. Registration for this free event is required and available here.


  • Gregory Edwards – Dolly Grip & Pittsburgh Film Office Board of Directors
  • Dawn M. Keezer (moderator) – Executive Director, Pittsburgh Film Office
  • Kevin M. Smith – Director of Undergraduate Studies – Broadcasting & Teaching Professor, University of Pittsburgh
  • Roger Guenveur Smith – Actor, Writer, Director & Educator

Festival tickets are available for purchase, including full weekend passes, single-day passes, and student tickets. AWAACC is generously providing 100 free tickets to students each day. For more information on ticketing and festival details, please visit awaacc.org or contact the Senior Ticketing Manager Abi Sarnacki asarnacki@awaacc.org.

The Black Bottom Film Festival presented by Citizens is more than a cinematic celebration; it is a cultural movement, a testament to the power of storytelling, and a vibrant expression of African American creativity.

Major support for AWAACC’s operations is provided by Richard King Mellon Foundation, Henry L. Hillman Foundation, Heinz Endowments, and the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD).

Citizens is the Presenting Sponsor for the Black Bottom Film Festival.

AWAACC’s programming, including the BBFF is made possible by generous support from all of its donors. For a complete list, please visit awaacc.org.

Black Bottom Film Festival Schedule:

Friday, October 27th

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM – FREE Panel Discussion Spotlighting the Pittsburgh Film Industry: Reel Money: Building Pittsburgh’s Film Economy
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM – Opening Reception
6:15 PM – 8:05 PM – Film Screenings and Talkback, moderated by Emmai Alaquiva
8:30 PM – 10:00 PM – Film Screening of Warm December

Saturday, October 28th

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM – Morning Workshops
11:00 AM – 1:00 PM – MFF Curated Submitted Screenings
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM – Howard University Screenings & Panel
3:00 PM – 7:30 PM – MFF Curated Submitted Screenings and Talkbacks
8:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Fim Screening of Within Our Gates and Talkback with Jacqueline Stewart
9:05 PM – Presentation of BBFF Award of Excellence to Jacqueline Stewart

Sunday, October 29th

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM – Morning Workshops
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM – MFF Curated Submitted Screenings
12:30 PM – 1:15 PM – Special Talkback
1:30 PM – 4:15 PM – MFF Curated Screenings
4:30 PM – 8:00 PM – Film Screening of The Wiz, and Maya Cade Keynote
8:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Closing Reception

*Programming information is subject to change. Please check back regularly for updates!


The Black Bottom Film Festival is an annual event that celebrates African American cinema, exploring its rich tapestry from classic films to independent works. Hosted by the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, BBFF aims to amplify Black voices, inspire change, and foster dialogue within the film community.


Oscar Micheaux was a visionary filmmaker whose trailblazing work challenged the boundaries of Hollywood during the early 20th century. From the shadows of adversity, Micheaux emerged as a pioneer, using the power of cinema to shed light on the black experience as he challenged norms and empowered communities. In homage to his groundbreaking contributions, the Micheaux Film Festival was born. A beacon of creativity, innovation, diversity, and inclusion. Our annual event celebrates the indomitable spirit of Oscar Micheaux and his enduring influence on the world of film. Since our founding in 2018, The Micheaux Film Festival has become a vibrant tapestry of cultural expression, welcoming filmmakers from every background and showcasing a kaleidoscope of narratives that reflect the rich tapestry of human experiences. From thought-provoking dramas to captivating documentaries and gripping comedies, the festival serves as a platform for underrepresented voices to shine. With a focus on fostering inclusivity and promoting emerging talent, the festival embraces a wide range of genres, styles, and perspectives.


Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $223.1 billion in assets as of June 30, 2023. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, large corporations and institutions. Citizens helps its customers reach their potential by listening to them and by understanding their needs in order to offer tailored advice, ideas and solutions. In Consumer Banking, Citizens provides an integrated experience that includes mobile and online banking, a full-service customer contact center and the convenience of approximately 3,400 ATMs and approximately 1,100 branches in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Consumer Banking products and services include a full range of banking, lending, savings, wealth management and small business offerings. In Commercial Banking, Citizens offers a broad complement of financial products and solutions, including lending and leasing, deposit and treasury management services, foreign exchange, interest rate and commodity risk management solutions, as well as loan syndication, corporate finance, merger and acquisition, and debt and equity capital markets capabilities. More information is available at www.citizensbank.com or visit us on TwitterLinkedIn or Facebook.


The August Wilson African American Cultural Center is a non-profit cultural center located in Pittsburgh’s cultural district that generates artistic, educational, and community initiatives that advance the legacy of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. One of the largest cultural centers in the country focused exclusively on the African American experience and the celebration of Black culture and the African diaspora, the non-profit organization welcomes more than 119,000 visitors locally and nationally. Through year-round programming across multiple genres, such as the annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Black Bottom Film Festival, AWCommunity Days, TRUTHSayers speaker series, and rotating art exhibits in its galleries, the Center provides a platform for established and emerging artists of color whose work reflects the universal issues of identity that Wilson tackled, and which still resonate today.

# # #

Media Contact:

Cydney Nunn, cnunn@awaacc.org, 412-906-8520