Creative Cypher will host Chicago’s Black-owned year-round film festival

Creative Cypher will host the XL Film Festival Friday, August 18 to Sunday, August 20, and continue to host events throughout the year.

XL Festival/Creative Cypher founder, Troy Pryor, is an advisor for the Chicago Alliance of Film Festivals, Co-Chair of Black Harvest Film Festival, and Chicago International Film Festival/Black Perspectives.

The XL Film Festival is Chicago’s growing Black-owned film festival, with speakers Robert TownsendLil Rel, Jackie TaylorGeorge DanielsDana GillsDave Jeff (Phli), Diallo Riddle (South Side), Brenda Gilbert (BRON Studios) Korporate and a host of speakers. 

The festival is part of a larger DEI effort to empower BIPOC ownership in media, and being included in a doc series with BRON Studios. Highlighting Chicago’s rich history, the XL Festival will occur in Bronzeville & Hyde Park. Pop-up events will happen throughout the city throughout the year with partners including Ava Duvernay’s Array, EventNoire, BMOA of Chicago, University of Chicago and Silver Room. Following the Creative Cypher acquisition of The Chicago South Side Film, Cypher has created a platform for other festivals to plug into as well. 

“In addition to Chicago having a scaling Black-owned festival, we are providing a pathway for other festivals and programs to optimize their own DEI efforts. This will help them attract greater resources to scale as well,” said Pryor.

XL Film Festival will also feature their collaborator Mansa. Mansa is a free, ad-supported streaming platform highlighting Black content for a global audience. Founded by award-winning filmmakers and actors David OyelowoNate Parker and Chiké Okonkwo, as well as tech entrepreneur and film financier Zak Tanjeloff, with backing by VCs like Robert F. Smith

“As independent creators, we are constantly looking for ways to reach a new audience,” said Patrick Wimp, Creator Brothers from the Suburb. “Mansa provides an incredible opportunity to reach those audiences, and add a stamp of credibility as series like ours join the wealth of amazing content on the platform. I hope many more people will see our show [Brothers from the Suburb] and walk away with a smile on their face.”

With support from the City of Chicago, the XL Film Festival will be an asset to the city, bringing necessary elements to the culture and business sectors. A letter provided by the Chicago Film Office stated, “Each filmmaking endeavor brings with it the potential to foster creative growth; cultural relevancy; inventive storytelling; diversity equity and inclusion; employment opportunities and business opportunities for film industry and industry-adjacent businesses.”



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