The event is being held at the Horton Plaza Westfield shopping mall through Feb 1. Gossett is slated to receive the 2009 Award of Merit. He is also featured in the new film "The Least Among Us," at 7 p.m. on Friday.
The festival was originally known as the Noir Film Festival when it launched in 2004. It's a fundraiser for the Black Historical Society of San Diego, which just opened its new facility last year on Market St. It showcases independent films by and about African-Americans, panel discussions and celebrity appearances, as well as films from around the globe. More than 100 films are screened each year.
"The one film that intrigues me is 'Rapping with Shakespeare,' " said writer Beth Accomando. "It's a documentary by Michael King and described as a modern-day hip-hop version of Shakespeare's tales that explores the lives of five South Central teenagers at Crenshaw High School. The students' lives reflect themes from Shakespeare's 'Henry V,' 'Hamlet' and 'Romeo and Juliet.' "