Denton Black Film Festival on a budget: Events to attend for free

The Denton Black Film Festival begins Jan. 24 and goes through Jan. 28. The festival continues virtually through Feb. 5. Photo: Denton Black Film Festival

The Denton Black Film Festival is jam-packed with film screenings, of course, but the five-day in-person event has grown to include so much more. While many of those are part of ticket and pass packages, there are plenty that anyone can attend at no cost.

If you’re feeling strapped for cash but still want to attend and support the festival, here’s a list of events you can attend for free.

Keep in mind that many experience events are open to the public and do not require tickets or reservations, while workshops and panels require a reservation ahead of time as seats are limited.

Wednesday, Jan. 24

All DBFF Art Experiences

When: Jan. 24-Feb. 19
Where: East| West Galleries at Texas Woman’s University
What: All DBFF art experiences are free to the public. The Ja’Tovia Gary and Lauren Kelley Exhibits are free and open to the public until Feb. 19. The exhibit opening reception for the exhibit is Jan. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. and is also free. Lauren Kelley will also have an exhibit at the UNT CoLab on the Square in Denton, where she presents a stop-motion animated series.

Friday, Jan. 26

Workshop — The Art of Directing: From Indie to Broadcast

When: 10-11 a.m.
Where: North Central Texas College-Denton
What: Learn about directing from Arthur Muhammad, a Dallas-based filmmaker and dedicated member of the Director’s Guild of America. Muhammad has enjoyed a rich career directing over 17 feature films.

Workshop — The Business of Production and Deliverables

When: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Where: North Central Texas College-Denton
What: Learn stages of production, post production and deliverables from award-winning filmmaker M. Legend Brown. Brown is gearing up to produce his 8th feature film in 2024 and is a member of the Dallas Screenwriters Association, Texas Motion Picture Alliance, Dallas Indie Club and the Dallas Producer Association.

Free Community Screening — ‘Storming Caesar’s Palace

When: 12:45-2:35 p.m.
Where: Campus Theater
What: Storming Caesar’s Palace shares the story of how a group of ordinary low-income mothers (Ruby Duncan, Mary Wesley, Alversa Beals) launched an extraordinary grassroots movement for economic justice and Black women’s empowerment in the 1960s and 1970s. Enjoy a free screening of and event for Storming Caesar’s Palace, including a post-screening discussion of the film with director Hazel Gurland-Pooler and community activist and film participant Sondra Phillips-Gilbert, daughter of Ruby Duncan. This screening requires a ticket, but tickets are free.

Mental health discussion — Tales from the Hoodie: From Radicalization to Revolution to Restful Resistance

When: 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Where: North Central Texas College-Denton
What: Join Katina Stone-Butler and Miztick on a discussion of the hoodie and its centuries-long symbolism within the Black community, as well as in the mental health advocate community.

Stone-Butler is the creative force behind Hood Sensory, an innovative concept offering stylish hoodies equipped with discreet self-soothing features, catering to those dealing with anxiety, sensory stimulation challenges and neurodivergence. Miztick, also known as Jamell Butler II, is a dynamic Denton-based music artist renowned for his creative fusion of genres.

Workshop — Producing 101: Creating the ‘ImPossible’ movie

When: 1:30-3 p.m.
Where: North Central Texas College-Denton
What: Join instructor Seckeita Taylor-Lewis for her tips, tricks and learned-lessons from her production of the feature film ImPossible.

Workshop — AI/VR for Filmmakers

When: 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Where: North Central Texas College-Denton
What: Join instructor Raziq Brown for a workshop on new tech and its impact on filmmakers. Brown is a Fort Worth-based writer, filmmaker and media technology educator. Currently an AI consultant at Kiriyo Studios, Brown empowers creators and fosters innovation at the intersection of art and technology.

Panel — Black Joy in Green Spaces: An Interactive Conversation about Nature’s Influence on the Emotional Well-being of Black Women

When: 4 p.m.
Where: North Central Texas College-Denton
What: During this interactive workshop, learn more about the Black Joy in Green Spaces study and how it served as a proud, arts-based response to Dr. Angela Dunbar’s (2022) suggestion to “conduct research that moves beyond Black pain. Not just simply a matter of studying positive adjustment as an outcome or moderator of adversity but rather to have complete studies on non-oppressive everyday aspects.” Additionally, hear the intergenerational stories of four Black women who engaged in a praxis of pause in order to center their own Black joy in green spaces.

Artist Talk at the UNT CoLab

When: 4-6 p.m.
Where: UNT CoLab
What: Hear artists Ja’Tovia Gary and Lauren Kelley speak on their art and what inspires them at the UNT CoLab on the Square in Denton.

DBFF After Dark

When: 10 p.m.-midnight, Friday and Saturday
Where: Steve’s Wine Bar and Vinyl Lounge
What: DBFF features several after dark events for festival attendees to unwind and meet together after the day’s events.

Saturday, Jan. 27

Interactive pop-up experience — Hoodies in the Summertime

When: 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m.
Where: Denton Civic Center Community Room
What: Hosted by Katina Stone-Butler and Miztick, a Denton-based artist, Hoodies in the Summertime has several timeslots throughout Saturday to attend. Stone-Butler and Miztick’s experience delves into their journey of self-discovery that catalyzed the innovation and launch of the Hood Sensory hoodie, a unique garment that serves as a comprehensive tool for comfort, self-soothing and mindfulness, specifically designed for the neurodivergent and those with sensory sensitivities. With a nod to Black culture and street fashion, the Hood Sensory hoodie represents more than just apparel; it’s a fusion of personal exploration, cultural identity and innovative design, aiming to make a meaningful impact in the lives of many.

Panel — Who Gets to Say What’s Good, Bad, or Ugly?: Black Cultural Criticism in America

When: 10-11:30 a.m.
Where: Patterson-Appleton Arts Center (Greater Denton Arts Council)
What: Join panelists Vicki Meek, visual art critic; Tierney Malone, music critic; and film critic Frederick Gooding with moderator Neil Foote, executive marketing director at UNT Frisco, for a discussion on how the lack of Black cultural critics at local and national media outlets unfairly defines who says what’s good, bad or ugly and why it’s important to develop a Black critical gaze on all the arts.

Panel — Voting Rights: A Historical Perspective and Recommitment to the Movement

When: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Where: North Central Texas College-Denton
What: Join panelists and local activists Linda Lamar, Linnie McAdams, Mahogany Wamsley and moderator Rhonda Bellamy Hodge on voting rights through the lens of history, academia and personal experiences. On-site, non-partisan voter Registration will also be available.

Panel — Meet the Commissioners: A Candid Conversation with Various Texas Film Commissions

When: 1-2:30 p.m.
Where: North Central Texas College-Denton
What: Listen in on a candid conversation with the various Texas Film Commissions. With moderator Michael Grayson, commissioners from the largest Texas cities talk about opportunities and challenges for independent filmmakers in Texas. Commissioners will be present from the Texas Film Commission, the Fort Worth Film Commission, the San Antonio Film Commission and the Houston Film Commission.

Panel/screening — Soles of Black Men: A Moving Conversation about Black Men, Black Joy, and Rest

When: 2:15-3:15 p.m.
Where: North Central Texas College-Denton
What: Join the world premiere of Soles of Black Men, a “loud” silent film about Black men who were invited to let being be enough as they participated in a nature-based walking art experience. Following the premiere, hear directly from the participants as they share what it was like to pause the demands of their day to focus on themselves. This immersive conversation will also involve Black men in the audience as they, too, have an opportunity to share their thoughts about Black joy and rest.

Panel — When Book Meets Film: Novelists Adapt Their Works for the Screen

When: 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Where: North Central Texas College-Denton
What: Panelists Kendra Rainey-King, Shawanda “N” Tyse Williams and Tamika Newhouse will discuss the new age of writing where writers think of the big screen while diving into their work.

Panel/workshop — Production Value: Line Producing in the Current Market

When: 4-5:30 p.m.
Where: North Central Texas College-Denton
What: With both strong design impacts on Gemini Crown Tech, panelists Stephanie Harrison and Stephanie Moore will discuss the quality of work in the ever-changing film industry.