Festival Aims to Pay Tribute to Black History Month With Films on Tuskegee Airmen, Hip-Hop

The 18th Annual Film Celebration will take place from Feb. 21 to Feb. 23 in the Performing Arts Center on Valencia’s East Campus, located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando.

Each year Valencia’s Film Celebration showcases feature-length and short-subject films produced by Valencia film students in conjunction with industry professionals.

Here is a schedule of films for Thursday-Saturday:

The gentle drama, The Way Back Home,” directed by television veteran Reza Badiyi, was filmed in Sanford and features actress Ruby Dee, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film, “American Gangster: (2007), and Tony award-winner Julie Harris. The story follows a successful New York lawyer (played by actor Michael King), who returns home to care for his ailing grandmother (Harris), who shares a lifelong friendship with Dee’s character. Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.

“Silver Wings and Civil Rights,” written and directed by Jon Anderson, a documentary about the first group of African-Americans to pilot for the U.S. military during World War II. Using vintage footage, photographs, reenactments and first-hand accounts, the documentary presents a remarkable and awe-inspiring record of black history, while calling to attention the racial prejudice and segregation the airmen faced both in the Air Force and at home. The film was widely praised when first released in 2003 and won the Audience Award at the Miami International Film Festival. Several original Tuskegee Airmen will be present for a post-screening discussion with the audience. Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.

“Just Another Day,” directed by Academy Award nominee Peter Spirer, is set in Miami and follows an up-and-coming hip-hop artist struggling to survive after a nightclub shooting takes place. The film features Wood Harris (“The Wire,” “Next Day Air,” “Remember the Titans”), with appearances by renowned rappers Ja Rule, Petey Pablo, Trick Daddy and Lil Scrappy. Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.

Admission to each night is $7, $5 for non-Valencia students with ID, and free for Valencia students and employees. To purchase tickets, contact the box office at (407) 582-2900. All proceeds will go to Valencia College’s film program to help fund student-produced films. For more information, call (407) 582-2413 or visit http://18thvalenciafilmcelebration.com.