Phoenix filmmaker, Jerry Horton will showcase his work during Black Horizons Festival.
Phoenix filmmaker, Jerry Horton will showcase his work during Black Horizons Festival.
Courtesy of Leah Marche

The Story Behind Leah Marche's Black Horizons Festival

Nearly a year ago, Leah Marche had an idea to unite creatives and highlight black excellence in the arts. So she founded Black Horizons Festival. Launched during Black History Month across Phoenix, the event celebrates excellence in black film.

Through February 18, Phoenix-based filmmakers are showcasing work with themes such as civil rights, black love, and forgotten elements of black history through features, short series, and animations. The festival is an event that spotlights these creators and their craft, and you can catch these topics brought to life on the big screen in different venues and locations that range across Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe.

"There hasn't been a focus on black film creators, and we're in the environment where that medium is used more and more," Marche says. "We don't ever stop sharing their stories."

The festival lineup has included documentaries such as Tariq Nasheed in the film, 1804: The Hidden History of Haiti, which tells the forgotten story of Haitian slaves and their revolution. Neal Hutcheson and Danica Cullinan challenge the status quo of language barriers between people in their film,Talking Black in America. Irin Daniels exposes racial tension and police brutality, special to Phoenix, in his film, The System.

Black Horizons will wrap up at Harkins at Arizona Mills in Tempe on February 18, with a screening of Nigga by Joshua Daniels. Through the documentary, Daniels aims to make audiences think twice about words used on a daily basis while highlighting the power of the racial slur.

Though the festival's focus is on sharing the stories of the black experience, Marche emphasizes that the festival is all-inclusive.

"It's a concept and idea of collaborating. It's not my festival, but it highlights our side," Marche says. "People are encouraged to come out and support the arts. It's a festival for everyone."

The Black Horizons Festival runs through February 18. Ticket prices vary by location. A full schedule of events is available at the Black Horizons Festival website.

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