New Outdoor Film Festival launches in East Harlem with opportunities for BIPOC creators to tell their stories

East Harlem’s first-ever Outdoor Film Festival runs through July 8 with original films created by local artists playing every day of the event. Their goal is to focus on themes of healing between generations of trauma in Black and BIPOC families living in New York City. 

The festival will also offer interactive, community-building workshops centered around gardening and meditation. The festival is located in the outdoor gardens of George Washington Houses as well as El Barrio’s Artspace, home of Hi-ARTS.

“The Outdoor Film Festival is not only an opportunity to showcase Hi-ARTS’ incredible artists, but also welcomes our audiences, artists and immediate neighbors into a shared space while centering topics of healing and community-building. We’re committed to offering experiences that reflect and engage our communities, especially in times of unrest, trauma and uncertainty,” said Aaron L. McKinney, Executive Director of Hi-ARTS.

The Outdoor Film Festival is giving Black and BIPOC artists the opportunities to share their impactful stories with a larger audience of local listeners. Each day of the festival will have its own thematic focus. 

Starting on July 6 Hakim Pitts, artist and associate producer of “In Our Mothers’ Gardens,” will lead participants in the workshop, “Taking Root ‘n’ Talking Roots.” Participants will be guided through meditation and go through group discussion about family history, with the intention to heal their intergenerational wounds. The group workshops will run from 11:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and will require registration.

July 7 begins at 7 p.m. with two work-in-progress films will be shown for the “The Gardens We Tend” event. The first is “GODSPEED: A Story from the Black Future,” by Celia C. Peters. Her film tells the story of an intelligent technical editor in an Afrofuturist world. She is plagued by psychological anomalies, her own brain telling her she’s not human. 

The second film is “I DIGRESS: The Intimate Insights of a Childhood Weirdo,” by Sauda Aziza Jackson and April Sweeney. The film is a four-episode memoir series that explores themes of inheritance and the recollection of long forgotten materials.

The evening will conclude with the showing of “(construct)Clearing” by Tanika I. Williams, a deep dive into intergenerational compliance, and “What does PURPLE sound like?” by Sydnie L. Mosley Dances, a film about finding joy in life. The films will conclude at 9:30 p.m.

The festival ends on Friday, July 8, at 7 p.m., with a showing of the BlackStar Film Festival award-winning documentary “In Our Mothers’ Gardens.” There will be a discussion before the showing for participants to talk through the main themes present in the film. The documentary tells the story of Black women from across the world as they turn towards radical self-care and healing.

In partnership with George Washington Houses’ 1809 Resident Watch and with the support of the Maysles Documentary Center, the Outdoor Film Festival will be completely free to attend. For more information, visit