It's been seven years since The Gary International Black Film Festival first emerged on the arts scene.

The Gary International Black Film Festival (GIBFF) once again celebrates the art of film during the event scheduled Friday through Sunday at Indiana University Northwest in Gary.

"I'm excited that the fest is back," said Karen Toering, fest director and founder of the event.

Toering said it was important for her to start the festival for many reasons primarily because it helps cultural enrichment and brings stories to life.

“Bringing independent films (to Gary) is an important part of our cultural growth,” Toering said in a past interview.

"I hope that people take away ideas of what is possible (from the festival). and that they take the time to talk to other people about those things," she said.

This year’s festival will open with a few films including "90 Days" by Jennia Aponte, who hails from Gary. Toering explained the film is about living with HIV and is beautifully made. "The art and the colors are off the charts," she said.

Friday's theme is a Night of Black Brilliance and will also feature a red carpet reception with appearances by film makers. Other films scheduled to be shown on opening night are "Night Shift," "They Charge for the Sun," "See You Yesterday," and "Tales from Shaolin: Pt 1 Shakey Dog."

Toering said audiences won't want to miss a special pre-fest kick off tonight featuring a performance by artist-poet Saul Williams at Gary's ArtHouse: A Soul Kitchen. The event begins at 6 p.m. The film "Dreamstates," which features music by Williams, will also be shown.

Special events that will be featured on Sunday include the GIBFF Honors Celebration and the Gary Showcase, which features films from local movie makers.

During the fest, attendees will have the opportunity to meet with other movie fans, talk with filmmakers and other professionals about the creative process and specific films.

Among narrative and documentary films, there will also be shorts, animated works and films by students and youth at the festival.

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Eloise writes about food and entertainment for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight children in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.