2024 LightReel Film Festival Announces Lineup Including Opening Night Film, ‘Dandelion’ Led by Kiki Layne

5th Annual LightReel Film Festival 2024 Announces Lineup Including Opening Night Film, 'Dandelion' Led by Kiki Layne

The 5th Annual LightReel Film Festival has recently announced its lineup for this year’s Narrative Feature and Documentary Feature categories, along with revealing its opening night film. The festival is set to kick off with the premiere of Kiki Layne’s ‘Dandelion,’ a compelling romantic drama that follows the journey of a struggling singer/songwriter in search of her true “voice.”

The opening night extravaganza marks the beginning of a series of special ‘gala’ events, showcasing a diverse range of films that promise to captivate audiences. Among the notable films scheduled are Academy Award nominee Lily Gladstone’s ‘Quantum Cowboys,’ Dianne Houston’s documentary ‘Freedom Hair,’ and festival favorites such as the emotionally charged drama ‘Yellow Bus’ from India and the touching US drama ‘African Giants.’

A highlight of the festival will be a tribute to iconic director Spike Lee, featuring screenings of two of his acclaimed films, ‘Do the Right Thing’ and ‘School Daze.’ The festival’s 35th-anniversary screening of ‘Do the Right Thing’ will serve as one of its Centerpiece events, while a special ‘Divine 9’ showing of ‘School Daze’ will kick off the festivities on Friday, May 24, 2024, at Celebration Church in Columbia, MD.

READ: 2024 American Black Film Festival to Celebrate Denzel Washington With Retrospective Event

In a nod to musical legends, the festival will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the timeless Prince rock drama, ‘Purple Rain,’ with a community film event at the Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market on June 5, 2024.

“We are excited to bring the LightReel Film Festival back to Washington, DC, and showcase an array of films that resonate with our vibrant audience,” stated festival director Tim Gordon. “Having the talented Kiki Layne as part of our lineup adds an extra layer of excitement and star power.”

While not officially designated as an international film festival, LightReel continues its tradition of featuring films from around the globe, including selections from Japan, Kenya, Jamaica, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

In addition to the main lineup, LightReel promises surprises with a ‘secret’ film, eight gala events, and an eagerly anticipated closing night film. The festival will take place at the Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market from June 5-8, 2024.

For more information and tickets, visit www.lightreelfilm.com.

About the LightReel Film Festival

The LightReel Film Festival, hosted by the Foundation for the Augmentation of African Americans in Film (FAAAF), serves as a platform to celebrate cinematic talent while offering a unique cultural experience to its audience. Since its inception, the festival has been a beacon for filmmakers and film enthusiasts alike, promoting diversity and creativity in the world of cinema. Connect with the LightReel Film Festival on social media platforms for updates and insights into this year’s event.


A Little Family Drama

A Mexican American family, whose lives revolve around their legendary restaurant, prepares for their annual family reunion dinner oblivious to the fact that a shattered taco truck dream is about to change everything.

USA | 85 min
Director: Nadia Zoe
Writer: Nadia Zoe, Ramón Torres
Producer: Nadia Zoe, Ramón Torres, Michael Karp
Cast: Jeff Meacham, Alma Martinez, Romi Dias, Diana Torres

African Giants

Over a weekend visit in Los Angeles, two first-generation Sierra Leonean American brothers navigate the changing dynamics of brotherhood after a surprise announcement.

USA | 106 min
Director: Omar Kamara
Writer: Omar Kamara
Producer: Omar Kamara, Leo Blumberg-Woll, Jordan Vernon Tyner
Cast: Dillon Daniel Mutyaba, Omete Anassi, Tanyell Waivers

Behind Closed Doors

This is the story of a young woman, Amani, from the countryside of Jamaica, who is given the unlikely opportunity to move to Kingston to attend law school. However, she soon learns nothing in life is free.

USA | 111 min
Director: Mark Anthony Deacon
Writer: Tachelle Ferron
Producer: Orville Matherson
Cast: Shevrado Oliver, Darron Donaldson

End of Trip – Sahara

Step back in time to the vibrant 1970s, when two young Spanish adventurers, Javier and Rafa, venture into the Sahara Desert, driven by a hunger for thrilling escapades and the yearning for an unforgettable journey.

Spain | 128 min
Director: Antonio Rodriguez Cabal
Writer: Antonio Rodriguez Cabal
Producer: Antonio Rodriguez Cabal, Maria Rodriguez Palao
Cast: Antonio Junco, Maru Valdivielso, Enrique Simon, Luis Hostalot, Pep Corominas

Freedom Hair

Based on the inspiring, true story of Melony Armstrong, a mother who works at a shelter for battered women decides to start a natural hair braiding business to achieve financial independence for herself and others.

USA | 97 min
Director: Dianne Houston
Writer: Dianne Houston
Producer: Rob Pfaltzgraff, Lana Link, Stacey Parks
Cast: Simona Brown, Sophia Bush, Erica Tazel, Jeremie Harris, Sharon Conley

Old Righteous Blues

A young man is forced to confront his limitations, face the ghosts of the past, and rise above establishment constraints to unite a fractured community and realize his life-long dream of leading his town’s Christmas Choir Band (Kerskoor) to its former glory.

South Africa | 99 min
Director: Muneera Sallies
Writer: Carol Shore
Producer: Dumi Gumbi, Catharina Weinek, Carol Shore
Cast: Ayden Croy, Euodia Samson, Stefan Erasmus


Alejandro ‘Ale’ Villacaño is a young associate lawyer who has landed a job at a prestigious law firm. Ensnared in a case rife with corruption, corporate negligence, and abuse of power, Ale must decide what kind of lawyer he is meant to be.

USA | 99 min
Director: Chris Robert Lawing
Writer: Chris Robert Lawing
Producer: Chris Robert Lawing, Natasha Coppola-Shalom
Cast: Glenn Stanton, Rusty Schwimmer

Quantum Cowboys

Two hapless drifters, Frank and Bruno, team up with Linde to recover her land and trek across 1870s Southern Arizona to find an elusive frontier musician.

USA | 99 min
Director: Geoff Marslett
Writer: Geoff Marslett, Howe Gelb
Producer: Melodie Sisk, Bill Way
Cast: Lily Gladstone, Kiowa Gordon, John Way, David Arquette

Yellow Bus

In the sweltering Arabian Gulf heat, Ananda’s dreams of a better life than the one she left behind in India are shattered after her child is forgotten on a school bus. Armed with the dead child’s ashes, she stands up against society’s ‘invisible’ caste, demanding accountability and refusing the customary blood money.

India | 112 min
Director: Wendy Bednarz
Writer: Wendy Bednarz
Producer: Guneet Monga, Achin Jain, Nadia Eliewat
Cast: Tannishtha Chatterjee, Kinda Alloush, Amit Sial, Aarushi Laud


Becoming Black

In the 1960s, a white couple living in East Germany tells their dark-skinned child that her skin color is merely a coincidence. As a teenager, she accidentally discovers the truth. What sounds like fieldwork about social dislocation becomes an autobiographical essay film and a reflection on themes such as identity, social norms, and family ties, viewed from a very personal perspective.

Germany | 91 min
Director: Ines Johnson-Spain
Producer: Anahita Nazemi


The film ‘Decoupling’ is the story of a “Chinese” father as he navigates the breakdown of relations between China and the US and what that means for his own family.

China | 64 min
Director: Yinan Wang
Producer: Yinan Wang

Demon Mineral

DEMON MINERAL documents the indigenous struggle for vital living space in the radioactive desert of the American Southwest.

USA | 88 min
Director: Hadley Austin
Producer: Nevo Shinaar, Emma Robbins

Get On The Bus!

In May of 2022 on the James Taylor Justice Coalition’s second Justice Day event, participants collected a sample of soil from the site where Mr. Taylor was hanged. A busload of over 50 youth and adults left Chestertown, MD in the wee hours of August 25 to transport that soil sample to the Legacy Museum in Montgomery.

USA | 68 min
Director: Justinian Dispenza
Producer: Phil Dutton, Tanner Presswood


gOD-Talk explores the lives of seven Black Millennials—Atheist, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, African Traditional Religion, and Spiritualist—and the challenges and discoveries they have with faith in the 21st century.

USA | 117 min
Director: Kim Moir
Producer: Teddy Reeves, Kim Moir

Ray of Hope

The 26-year armed conflict in Sri Lanka compelled numerous Eelam Tamils to seek refuge in foreign nations, notably in Canada. “Ray of Hope” delves into the intricate aftermath of trauma within a community that is now breaking its silence, aiming to attain justice for the multitude who have gone missing or perished.

USA | 90 min
Director: Ryan Singh
Producer: Patricia Scarlett, Nikila Cole


The recent U.S. college admissions scandal is not merely an aberration in an otherwise virtuous system. It lays bare a US higher education culture in which wealth and influence remain the predominant values. RIGGED examines how this obsolete value system favoring wealth in our higher education system increases the disparity between rich and poor and thereby undermines the future of American Democracy.

USA | 80 min
Director: Matt Zodrow
Producer: Matt Zodrow

Rising Hope

The documentary explores issues surrounding the state’s historically oppressive policies towards Black Mississippians, the massive employment loss following NAFTA, and the devastating effects of defunding public education for consecutive generations

USA | 104 min
Director: Theo Avgerinos
Producer: Theo Avgerinos

The Blues Society

In the segregated Memphis of the 1960s, blues masters and beatniks created a music festival that rocked the foundations of a conservative world.

USA | 78 min
Director: Augusta Palmer
Producer: Augusta Palmer

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