Stanley Nelson’s The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution Opens 5th Annual GIBFF

Photo courtesy of Stephen Shames

Photo courtesy of Stephen Shames

Gary, IN – The Gary International Black Film Festival, Gary’s original independent Black film festival opens its 5th Annual festival with the powerful film,  THE BLACK PANTHERS:VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION, director Stanley Nelson’s riveting documentary about the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.  The festival, which runs October 9, 10 and 11 at the Indiana University Northwest Bergland Auditorium in Savannah Hall, features three jam-packed days of narrative and documentary feature films, short films and films made by youth.

“Mr Nelson’s film is the right film at the right time for this festival.” Festival Director Karen Toering notes. “Recent acts of state-sanctioned violence against unarmed Black people and the resultant cry “Black Lives Matter” makes this film and its revolutionary subject matter incredibly relevant in these times.”

Change was coming to America and the fault lines could no longer be ignored—cities were burning, Vietnam was exploding, and disputes raged over equality and civil rights. A new revolutionary culture was emerging and it sought to drastically transform the system. The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense would, for a short time, put itself at the vanguard of that change.

THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION is the first feature length documentary to explore the Black Panther Party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails. Master documentarian Stanley Nelson goes straight to the source, weaving a treasure trove of rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party and those who left it. Featuring Kathleen Cleaver, Jamal Joseph, and many others, THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION is an essential history and a vibrant chronicle of this pivotal movement that birthed a new revolutionary culture in America.

“It is essential to me as a filmmaker to try and give the viewer a sense of what it has meant to be black in America and consider this within our contemporary context. The legacy of the Black Panther Party had a lasting impact on the way black people think and see ourselves, and it is important that we look at and understand that. As a great lover of music, I wanted to capture this sentiment in the music we used to give audiences a sense of the time and the undercurrents
of change and revolution.” Stanley Nelson, Director

The GIBFF Opening Night will feature a lively pre-screening reception and post-screening discussion. Tickets for Opening Night are available at

The festival will feature three days of matinee screenings, evening spotlight feature films and lively, relevant discussion with filmmakers and local community leaders. Interested in volunteering or becoming a community partner? Contact us.

About the GIBFF:

The Gary International Black Film Festival (GIBFF) is Gary’s hometown cultural event that supports community building by bringing audiences and artists together through film. Now in its 5th year, this annual, 3-day event presents films from independent filmmakers, panel discussions, matinee screenings for middle and high school youth and in-depth chats
with filmmakers, industry professionals and local community leaders.

The GIBFF uses film as a catalyst for positive cultural activity to enhance the ‘cultural capital’ of our hometown of Gary,Indiana by celebrating black culture through independent film and discussion. It is our goal to bring films of the highest quality that reflect the depth and transcendence of black people. The festival is run by a committed core of community volunteers who work year round to curate films and raise money for the annual event.

The GIBFF is proud to once again work with collaborating partners the Urban League of NWI and Indiana University Northwest. Support for the 5th Annual GIBFF is made possible by The Legacy Foundation, the Indiana Arts Commission and the South Shore Arts Alliance.

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