ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- The world's largest community of Black film and television enthusiasts are gathering right now for the American Black Film Festival.

The virtual 10-day event features more than 90 films to watch all for free. This festival has been going strong for 24 years. It gave an early-career boost to “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler.

This year’s lineup includes a number of documentaries that really speak to this year’s reckoning on race, even though they were made in 2019.

One such film is “La Ruta” or the Route of Death by local filmmaker Star Victoria.

Navigating dangerous waters, human smugglers known as coyotes and scorching desert weather. Hundreds of thousands of people a year gamble their lives on a journey of through hell. "La Ruta" tells the story of a migrant mother and daughter trying to survive the journey from Guatemala to the U.S. border in search of asylum.

"I was watching all these migrants to America, and I would hear the stories, grumbling of these migrants are coming to the U.S. and taking our jobs etc.," explains Star. "And it just seemed to be the focus of everybody in that aspect."

“CARMEN NO NO!”

(SOT 5:02)

“AND THEN TRYING TO IMAGINE YOU KNOW YOU WITH YOU CHILD BEING PULLED APART AT THE BORDER WAS MIND BOGGLING TO ME.”

It's a familiar story for Star and one she hopes audiences can identify with. 

"Imagine you know, you with you're child being pulled apart at the border was mind boggling to me. I was in foster homes when I was you and I was torn away from a family that I really cared about the only family that I knew from 1 to 8-years-old," says Star.

This week "La Ruta" is playing at the American Black Film Festival.

"It's an organization that has been at the forefront of supporting artists, producers, directors, especially those of color." 

The annual event has become a cornerstone of diversity in Hollywood, providing a platform for emerging Black artists. Many who have become today's most successful players in Hollywood, like Atlanta's own mega-producer Will Packer.

Although ABFF is virtual this year, audiences are still tuning in.

"It's actually been a unique experience and a lot more people are able to partake in the festival and watch the movie," says Star.

The week-long program runs until August 30. You can catch Star’s film on abff.com.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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