Maori Karmael


Maori Karmael Holmes

She // Her // Hers

[ID: Maori, a Black woman with a braided updo, stands outdoors against a dark background. She wears a black cotton blouse, an embroidered flower necklace, large brass hoop earrings, and smiles at the camera.]

2023 Berresford Prize Awardee
Curator, Filmmaker, and Cultural Worker
Philadelphia, PA

Maori Holmes is a curator, filmmaker, and cultural worker. She works to uplift the fullness of Black, Brown and Indigenous expression. Holmes founded BlackStar Film Festival in 2012 and serves as Chief Executive & Artistic Officer for BlackStar Projects.

As a leader within arts, culture, and media spaces in the United States, her approach is defined by passion, rigor, and a deep commitment to equitable social transformation. Her multiple forms of cultural organizing are an act of worldmaking, in which the intricacies of pleasure, beauty, struggle, indeterminacy, and grief, help us imagine and fashion another way forward. She has curated several group exhibitions as well as organized a myriad of programs in film, music, and performance for almost two decades. Her first museum show, Terence Nance: Swarm, opened in March 2023 at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.

As a filmmaker, her moving image works as a director have screened internationally, and she has produced narrative and documentary projects. She hosts the well-received podcast Many Lumens, and her writing has most recently appeared in Seen, Documentary Magazine, The Believer, Film Quarterly, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance, and Collective Wisdom: Co-Creating Media Within Communities Across Disciplines and Algorithms. She holds a BA in History from American University and an MFA in Film from Temple University. Holmes has served on several boards, including American Documentary and Asian Arts Initiative, and is currently Mediamaker-in-Residence at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Photo by Adachi Pimentel.

View the press release.

  • Artwork by Maori Karmael Holmes
    Photo by Daniel Jackson.
    [ID: Maori poses smiling on a stairway balcony. She stands behind a railing hung with shiny inflatable bubble letters that spell out “Blackstar”.]
  • Artwork by Maori Karmael Holmes
    [ID: A quote from Jeff Chang, 2008 USA Fellow, which reads, "Maori has built a global creative community deeply rooted in and guided by the aesthetics and ethics of the Black freedom-makers in the Philadelphia area. By building new forms of representation, collaboration, and inspiration, she reflects and advances our collective yearning for futures large enough for all our humanity."]
  • Artwork by Maori Karmael Holmes
    Photo by Walé Oyejide.
    [ID: A black and white photo of Maori standing in a plant-filled room sipping from a white mug. She wears a sparkly jacket over a white shirt.]
  • Artwork by Maori Karmael Holmes
    [[ID: A quote from Nuotama Bodomo, 2019 USA Fellow, which reads "Maori Holmes's contribution to Black cinema is unparalleled. She has actually built strong infrastructure to enact the things we often like to dream about. I simply admire both the prolificness and diversity of her practice.]
Artwork by Maori Karmael Holmes Artwork by Maori Karmael Holmes Artwork by Maori Karmael Holmes Artwork by Maori Karmael Holmes