This year’s Black Star Film Festival kicked off in Philadelphia Thursday night (July 31st). The theme for this year’s festival is "Music is the Weapon," in which many of the 40 selected short, documentary and feature-length films focus on music’s influence on cinema.

The festival opened with a screening of Dreams Are Colder Than Death followed by a discussion with the film’s creator and cinematographer Arthur Jafa at the Scribe Video Center.  The documentary examines what it means to be black over half a century after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington.

In keeping with this year’s “Music is the Weapon” theme, three films by LA filmmaker and Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner Kahlil Joseph were shown Friday (August 1st). While Shomari Smith’s documentary Til Infinity: Souls of Mischief was screened, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Souls of Mischief’s album, 93 Til Infinity.

Other events scheduled to take place include a youth showcase giving young filmmakers the opportunity to show their work at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication on Saturday (August 2nd). And the premiere of Half of a Yellow Sun, starring Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose and Chiwetel Ejiofor takes place Saturday at the International House Philadelphia. Actor Michael K. Williams will  make an appearance to help promote his film They Die By Dawn.

Closing with a bang, the festival will debut an awards ceremony at World Café Live to conclude the festival on Sunday, August 3rd.