Maori Karmael Holmes is the Director of BlackStar Film Festival, which she founded in 2012. Since 2002, she has organized programs in film and performance at a myriad of organizations including: Anthology Film Archives, Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, Barnes Foundation, Asian Arts Initiative, Painted Bride Art Center, Scribe Video Center, International House, and Swarthmore College. Other projects include KinoWatt (2011-2012), co-curated with Sara Zia Ebrahimi, and Black Lily Film & Music Festival for Women (2006-2010).
As a filmmaker, her film and video works have screened internationally and been broadcast throughout the US, including most notably, her feature documentary Scene Not Heard: Women in Philadelphia Hip-Hop. As a graphic designer she has worked on several book projects including (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race (Yaba Blay, BlackPrint Press, 2011) and Dismantle: An Anthology of Writing from the VONA Workshop (eds. Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela, Andrea Walls, Adriana E. Ramírez, Camille Acker, and Marco Fernando Navarro, Thread Makes Blanket Press, 2014). She has designed costumes for several short films and plays including working with director James Avery on a production of King Hedley II. Maori has received awards from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Leeway Foundation, Independence Media, Women’s Way, and Philadelphia Commission on Human Rights. In 2009, she was named a Creative Ambassador by Visit Philadelphia and was a fellow at the 60th Flaherty Film Seminar and a 2016 Ford Foundation Rockwood JustFilms Fellow.
She received her MFA in Film & Media Arts from Temple University, her BA in History from American University, and did postgraduate studies in Costume Design at California Institute of the Arts. She has been an adjunct lecturer at Drexel University, University of the Arts, Temple University, and Villanova University. Her writing has appeared in Film Quarterly, Philadelphia City Paper, Philadelphia Weekly, Washington City Paper, BlackAmericaWeb.com, Blu Magazine, and Alternet.org.