21/22 Season Film Series

Our film series is created in consultation with our Curator-at-Large for Film, Maori Karmael Holmes, Artistic Director and CEO of BlackStar Projects.

For fall 2021, we delve into environmental topics, leading up to our outdoor performance by Alarm Will Sound at the Morris Arboretum. We continue our Pew Fellows X Penn Live Arts focus with selections by guest curator, filmmaker and 2016 Pew fellow, Heidi Saman. Six additional films round out the series, exploring the effects of the global pandemic, connecting film to music and live performance and more.

September's On the Environment films are on sale now. Dates and more information for the remaining films coming soon.


Fall 2021 Films

On the Environment


Our On the Environment films address climate change from a variety of perspectives and locations. In Landfall (2020), we examine what happens when recovery efforts and global capitalism collide in Puerto Rico while in Titixe (2018), we witness the deep links between the loss of a beloved family member, the loss of cultural tradition, and consequently, the deterioration of an agricultural environment. Two short films, The Lake and The Lake (2019) and When the Lionfish Came (2015), highlight the impact of the obliteration of cultural and environmental resources.
- Maori Karmael Holmes, Curator-at-Large for Film

Landfall photo

Landfall (2020)
Sep 16-26

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Titixe  photo

Titixe (2018)
Sep 16-26

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The Lake and The Lake photo

On the Environment Short Films*
Sep 16-26

The Lake and The Lake (2019)
When the Lionfish Came (2015)

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*Available free with purchase of an On the Environment feature film.

Pew Fellows x Penn Live Arts

Selections by guest curator, filmmaker and 2016 Pew fellow, Heidi Saman

We continue our focus on Pew Fellows by presenting a program guest curated by filmmaker/producer Heidi Saman (2016 Pew Fellow), whose series investigates films and directors that have shaped her own practice, paying keen attention to the interior lives of the film’s female characters. The Silences of the Palace (1994) relies on the power of stillness and hushed glances to communicate volumes, Personal Affairs (2016) is charming, telling the story of a multi-generational family grappling with politics, and Cactus Flower (2017) is lush and colorful, following an unlikely trio on a labyrinthine journey. To conclude the program, Saman chose three shorts: In Search of a City (in the Papers of Sein) (2012), Like Twenty Impossibles (2003) and Oranges (2009).
- Maori Karmael Holmes, Curator-at-Large for Film

Several of the women in my life didn't become filmmakers until later in life. I personally straddle another profession in addition to being a filmmaker and mother. I wanted to showcase work by Arab women who worked in other professions before making their own films or were inspired to make films after having children.
- Heidi Saman, Guest Curator

The Silences of the Palace photo

The Silences of the Palace (1994)

Personal Affairs   photo

Personal Affairs (2016)

Cactus Flower photo

Cactus Flower (2017)

In Search of a City (in the Papers of Sein) photo

Pew Fellows X PLA Short Films**

In Search of a City (in the Papers of Sein) (2012)
Like Twenty Impossibles (2003)
Oranges (2009)
**Available free with purchase of a Pew Fellows X PLA feature film.

November-December Films


We investigate the impact of a global pandemic with 7 Days (2021) and The Pink Cloud (2021) which both examine the world of strangers who foster unlikely bonds while the planet falls apart around them. And to connect with our other programming and legacy of live performance, we feature music films with a special focus on gender and vision, illuminating the lives of groundbreaking figures. Poly Styrene: I am a Cliché (2021) takes a look at the legacy of the trailblazing Anglo-Somali punk musician who inspired generations after her; No Ordinary Man (2020) presents a loving reimagining of a transgender ancestor; and The Conductor (2021) provides a backstage pass to the artistry of an internationally renowned female conductor. We end the year with a film that reminds us of why we fell in love with cinema. Last Film Show (2021) is heartwarming and delightful, reminiscent of older films by master filmmakers and a wonderful conclusion to our fall film series.
- Maori Karmael Holmes, Curator-at-Large for Film

7 Days photo

7 Days (2021)

The Pink Cloud photo

The Pink Cloud (2021)

Poly Styrene: I am a Cliché photo

Poly Styrene: I am a Cliché (2021)

No Ordinary Man photo

No Ordinary Man (2020)

The Conductor photo

The Conductor (2021)

Last Film Show photo

Last Film Show (2021)


Maori Karmael Holmes, Curator-at-Large for Film

Maori Karmael Holmes photo

Maori is a curator, filmmaker and writer. She founded BlackStar in 2012 and serves as its Artistic Director and CEO. She has organized programs in film at a myriad of organizations including Anthology Film Archives, Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), The Underground Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. As a director, her works have screened internationally including her feature documentary Scene Not Heard: Women in Philadelphia Hip-Hop (2006). She has also directed and produced works for Colorlines.com, Visit Philadelphia, and singer-songwriter India.Arie. Her writing has recently appeared in The Believer, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, and How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance. Maori received her MFA in film & media arts from Temple University and her BA in history from American University. She currently serves on the board of American Documentary (POV), the advisory boards of Ulises, Vidiots, and Lightbox Film Center. Maori is a 2019 Soros Equality Fellow and serves as Mediamaker-in-Residence at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, Curator-at-Large at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and a Creative Executive with Blackbird.