Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson stars in "Winnie Mandela," which opens the Hollywood Black Film Festival on Wednesday. (RLJ entertainment )

The Hollywood Black Film Festival, which begins Wednesday and continues through Sunday at the Montalban Theatre and the W Hotel, includes an array of films and panels. But in what might be a first, the festival also features complementary beauty services Friday and Saturday for guests with all-access passes, so you can look good while attending the programs.

The festival,  founded in 1998 by Executive Director Tanya Kersey to help develop the careers of both emerging and established black filmmakers, is bookended by movies starring Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson (“Dreamgirls”). She stars in the opening-night film “Winnie Mandela,” which opened theatrically last month, and the closing-night feature, George Tillman Jr.s “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete,” which opens theatrically Oct. 11.

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Among the highlights of the festival are the documentaries “In Search of the Black Knight” and “American Beatboxer” and the narrative features  “Hard Time Bus,” “Frat Brothers” and “Thy Will Be Done.”

New to the festival this year is the Film Diaspora program Thursday at the Montalban, which shines a spotlight on independent films and filmmakers from the African diaspora. The lineup includes 11 films -- features, shorts and documentaries -- from eight African countries.

Interspersed with the screenings are  panels at the W Hotel such as “The Impact of Science Fiction on New Technology” and “The Ins and Outs of Navigating a Film Festival,” as well as conversations with writer-director Malcolm Lee and producer Debra Martin Chase.

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