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The Sabira Cole Film Festival 2020 


“Sabira Cole Film Festival is an international juried feature and short film competition. SCFF awards prizes to emerging filmmakers in the 3 categories: Geraldine B Hill Award for children & youth, Sabira Cole Award for short form documentary, Sabira Cole Award for feature narrative or documentary. We centralize storytelling traditions of the Diaspora and global communities of color to control our image and narrative. We support and magnify the voices of tomorrow! SCFF was born from the ashes of the decade long Sembene Film Festival. The juried film competition was Sabira’s last intention for the festival. She planned to launch in March of 2020, but her life was cut short due to illness. As her niece and pupil, I worked with my uncle Mike Hill to continue our family member’s mission of supporting and promoting independent filmmakers.” -Ogechi Chieke, Executive Director

The SCFF 2020 was a screening of our official selection over five thematic days.

Click the links to find the description of the days and their films. 

Local Legacies

There is power in place, there is power in a home. The films for Local Legacies are about how places shape the lives of the people who live there and how the people have the power to shape their environment. ​

Leo's Legacy

LEO’S LEGACY tells the little known story of a multicultural entertainment venue in Cleveland, OH, Leo’s Casino, which was a testing-ground for Motown acts and a popular venue for leading African American entertainers like Redd Fox, Otis Redding, and Dizzy Gillespie in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the youth that frequented the venue.

Director - Leah C.K. Lewis

Pittsburgh's Underground Railroad

This film was made in 2019 to commemorate the 400th year acknowledgment of the first documented Africans who were enslaved in Jamestown Virginia in 1619.


Director - Jay White 


Woogie is a young man growing up in the hood. Despite his fathers efforts he goes down a wrong path and finds himself incarcerated and must endure many obstacles before turning his life around.

Director - Lorenzo Boone

Give Him Sky

Pittsburgh, PA is considered one of the most livable cities in America, but as lifelong residents, the producers saw that this was not the case for the city’s predominantly black neighborhoods. In order to understand what it's really like to grow up in these communities, with the drugs, violence, and a failing educational system, they ventured into Wilkinsburg and befriended two men, both named Anthony.

Director - Barry Reese 

Protecting The Vulnerable

Stories about explorers, healers, and leaders. The films presented this night are either made by, or lead by women. 


"Bubble" is a surreal short that literally deals with getting caught up in one's own head.


Director - Janelle DeWitt

The Turtles Swim

A scuba diver joins the turtles' swim and discovers sunken treasure!


Director - Genna Lee

Liremu Barana

Arisa dances every day and night to songs that tell of the struggles of her people. Her mother warns her not to make the same mistakes that she did as a young woman. Poetic and atmospheric, Liremu Barana subtly addresses themes of race and colonialism.

Director - Elvis Rigoberto Caj Cojoc

Yemanjá: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil,
narrated by Alice Walker

An award-winning film about a little known history of Africa in the Americas. A story of the Afro-Indigenous Brazilian spiritual tradition of Candomblé, with a distinctly ecological and inclusive worldview. Told through the voices of extraordinary women leaders, we learn of Candomblé's historical and contemporary social struggles and triumphs in the region considered the largest former slave port in the Americas. An inspiring story for our times!

Director Biography - Donna Carole Roberts, Donna Read


Nader`s house is to be demolished soon and his daughter is sick. Nader calls Najmeh (his sister) and asks her for help. Najmeh comes to his house but Nader has left there before her arrival.


Director - Shirin Sabour

Connections & Communication

Bonds and relationships are at the center of the films presented in “Connections and Communication.” They look at the nature of these bonds and the price of severing them as well. 


The 40-year-old Nurse Theresa helps out patients with euthanasia. She is convinced that she's helping a lot of people with it. When her terminally ill son expresses his wish to die she is to make a painful decision that makes her think.

Director - Renja Schmakeit

Amos is Zawadi

Zawadi is a Tanzanian young man who was born with a serious motor disability. In fact, he can not be independent. With him, there is his cousin Amos who takes care of him day by day. Their place is not yet ready to hold them.


Director- Yari Saccotelli


Adetoro and Rashad, two young men from two different backgrounds living in the same neighborhood. With tension between the two men based off differences and a heated argument in the local barbershop, a situation arises that forces them to look to each other for safety.

Director - omó pastor


After months of sorrow, a heart-broken college student devises a plan to get her ex back. But her grand scheme quickly leads to something very unexpected.

Director - Chisom Chieke


Khanya and Sandiswa are left outside the local horse gambling arena by their father, under the strict instructions to not leave the car. Khanya receives her period and makes the decision to enter the arena, when she is caught by her father, the true confines of their delicate relationship come to light.


Director- Hlumela Matika

Thrillers & The Supernatural

What lies just beyond the dark? On Friday the 13th, SCFF showcased films dealing with death and the supernatural.


"Made in collaboration with former students of University of Alabama, GHOSTED is a short film set in Alabama that tells the story of a gas station attendant who is goaded by her best friend to take extreme measures to return a wallet to a customer."


Director - Marquette Jones

Dead Mirror Suite

An Abstract Psychological Thriller detailing the journey of Norah Heart who finds herself trapped in a never ending nightmare after committing suicide. She now lingers in the afterlife searching for her final resting place. This surreal existentialist short art film.

Director - Ace Fillmore

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Midnight Movie: Magnum Opus

In his quest for the perfect sculpture, aiming to reproduce the
human body and especially the flesh, Slim, a sculptor, will go as far as kill to create the perfect exposure, the perfect mix between pulp and clay.

Director Biography - Myriam Khammassi

These films analyze the minds of people who have been uprooted for their original home, whether that be of their own accord or by someone else. The night will end with the SCFF prizewinner panel and the announcement of the Viewer’s Choice award. 

Away From Home
The Snake Charmer

The Snake Charmer is a short ethnographic documentary outlining the family history and magical roots of a group of nomadic Rajasthani snake charmers, or Madari, living in rural Gujarat, northwest India.

These scenes were shot in the summer of 2005 on the outskirts of the town of Dhrangadhra, Gujarat. The Madari live in tents on the edge of town, in an enclave known as Vadipara, or "snake charmers' alley." Despite the abolition of the caste system after the establishment of the Republic of India in 1947, the snake charmers remain on the fringes of Hindu society; they belong to the "Madari Varna", a sub-caste of the Untouchable caste.

Director - Alex Goldblum

A Date in the Dark

A Date in the Dark narrates the Last day journey of a Husband with his blind wife and it is a Virtual Audio Telugu Short film.

Virtual Audio film is nothing but a film that gives us a realistic experience with just audio and sounds.

Director - Singara Mohan

Dafa Metti

Under Paris' glittering Eiffel Tower, undocumented Senegalese migrants sell miniature souvenirs of the monument, to support their families back home.

Far from their loved ones and hounded by the police, each day is a struggle through darkness in the City of Lights


Director - Tal Amiran

Revolution from Afar

In 2019, after months of protests across Sudan, the military removed thirty-year dictator Omar al-Bashir and cracked down in a violent fashion on the civilian sit-in outside its headquarters. The Internet was shut down, leaving those outside Sudan to voice a plea for peaceful transition to civilian government. An ocean away, Sudanese-American poets and musicians, whose families left Sudan for America in decades past, gather in major American cities to perform in support of the revolution. At the heart of the film is a conversation around identity, belonging, and the uncertain future of Sudan, from which they have been physically cut off. What happens when they can only watch from afar?

Director Biography - Bentley Brown


Feature-Length Documentary Film Winners

Donna Roberts - Yemanja

Yari Saccotelli - Amos e Zawadi

Bentley Brown - Revolution From Afar

Short Narrative or Documentary Film Winners 

Shirin Sabour - Intense

Elvis Rigoberto Caj Cojoc - Liremu Barana

Myriam Khammassi - Magnum Opus

Geraldine B. Hill Award, Films for Children and Youth Winners

Hlumela Matika - TAB

Janelle DeWitt - Bubble

Genna Lee - The Turtles Swim

Viewer’s Choice Award Winner

Chisom Chieke - #MCM

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