Authors, Film & TV

Published on July 26th, 2020 | by Jerry Doby

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American Black Film Festival Announces Film Slate For 2020 Virtual Festival

IMDb To Simulcast The Best of the ABFF Awards Ceremony On August 30 

With a record number of entries, ABFF Ventures LLC., today revealed its slate of films in competition for the 24th annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) scheduled to take place online August 21-30th at abff.com. ABFF also announced that IMDb (www.imdb.com), the world’s most popular and authoritative source for information on movies, TV shows and celebrities, will simulcast The Best of the ABFF Awards Ceremony on its homepage on August 30, closing night of the Festival.

The ABFF Online Edition will continue the tradition of the live festival: featuring the best of independent Black cinema, studio premieres, conversations and panels, along with virtual networking events.  This year, ABFF is introducing the first annual John Singleton Award for Best First Feature for a director of African descent.

Consistent with ABFF’s mission to spearhead diversity and introduce newcomers to the industry the program will feature a record number of female directors with more than half of the submissions from first-time filmmakers. The Festival’s International entries include films from more than ten foreign markets including: Belgium, Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Mozambique, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Among the celebrated talent featured in this year’s Narrative Features are Big Boy, Chris Brown, Cedric the Entertainer, Chris Chalk, Frankie Faison, Vivica A. Fox, Marla Gibbs, Macy Gray, Jackie Earle Haley, Dwight Henry, Haley Joel Osment, Anika Noni Rose, and Brian “Birdman” Williams, among others.

Also featured in the festival will be a spotlight screening of the Documentary film, Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn, courtesy of HBO.  The film is the winning project of the inaugural Feature Documentary Initiative created by the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) and Academy Award-winning production company, Lightbox.  Premiering on HBO and streaming on HBO Max on August 12, the film was directed by Muta’Ali Muhammad (Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee), and is about a black teenager who was murdered in 1989 by a group of young white men in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Hawkins’ death and the official response to it sparked outrage in New York, unleashing a torrent of racial tension and spurring tireless civil rights activism that exposed deep racial prejudices and inequities which continue to plague the country today.

“The more than 90 films in this year’s festival are the work of a group of powerful and passionate storytellers who reflect the diversity of voices in our industry,” said Jeff Friday, founder and CEO ABFF Ventures.  “Creating an opportunity for these filmmakers to reach a broader audience is our core mission. We are thrilled to have IMDb on board to simulcast the Awards Show.”

Competitive categories include:

U.S. Narrative Features – feature-length films directed by or written and produced by persons of African descent. Films in this category are eligible for the following Jury Awards – Best Director, presented by Cadillac, (prize is $10,000), Best Narrative Feature, presented by Prudential Financial, (prize is $2,500), and Best Screenplay, BET Networks (prize is $2,500) and the John Singleton Award for Best First Feature, presented by Netflix.

International Narrative Features – International feature-length films directed by or written and produced by persons of African descent. Films in this category are eligible to compete for the Jury Award for Best International Feature, presented by Sony Pictures Entertainment. The cash prize is $2,500.

Documentary Features – nonfiction feature films directed by persons or about persons of African descent. Films in this category are eligible for the Jury Award for Best Documentary, presented by Amazon Studios. The cash prize is $2,500.

HBO® Short Film Competition, now in its 23rd year – Each of the films in this section is directed and/or written by a person of African descent.  The prize is $10,000 for the winner and $5,000 for each of the other finalists.

Web Series – short-form episodic television series directed by or produced and written by persons of African descent. Each series will compete for the Jury Award for Best Web Series, presented by Xfinity. The cash prize is $2,500.

Non-Competitive categories include Emerging Filmmakers, showcasing the work of emerging directors of African descent and Pride Films, a showcase of films that represent queer culture and reflect the LGBTQIA experience in the United States.

A full list of the 2020 ABFF Online Edition Official Selections can be found HERE.

The American Black Film Festival was conceived in 1997 as a vehicle to strengthen the Black entertainment community and provide a platform for emerging artists. It has become one of the leading film festivals in the world and a place of inspiration and community for many.

The destination festival, which has typically attracted 7,000 to 10,000 attendees to Miami Beach, will open its virtual doors to a global audience, offering most of its programming free of charge.

Previously announced, Iconic Grammy AwardⓇ winning and Academy AwardⓇ nominated singer, songwriter, actress, producer and philanthropist Mary J. Blige serves as this years’ ambassador.

Sponsors to date include WarnerMedia, HBO® (Founding), Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (Presenting Sponsors); Comcast NBCUniversal, Amazon Studios (Premier Sponsors); Cadillac, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Netflix, IMDb, Motion Picture Association (MPA), Jeff Friday Media, Prudential Financial, Starz, a Lionsgate company, UMC, Verizon Media (Official Sponsors); Facebook, (Supporting Sponsor); Blackfilm.com (Marketing Partner).

For more information on ABFF and up-to-date news, go to abff.com and follow @ABFF on Twitter and @AmericanBlackFilmFestival on Instagram and Facebook. Join in on the conversation by using #ABFF20 and #ABFF.

ABOUT ABFF:

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is an annual event dedicated to recognizing black talent and showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent. Dedicated to the belief that diverse artists deserve the same opportunities as their mainstream counterparts, ABFF founder Jeff Friday conceived the festival in 1997 as a vehicle to strengthen the black entertainment community by fostering resource sharing, education and artistic collaboration.

After 24 years, the festival has become a cornerstone of diversity in Hollywood, providing a platform for emerging black artists – many of who have become today’s most successful actors, producers, writers, directors and stand-up comedians, including Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Will Packer (Girls Trip), Issa Rae (Insecure), Kevin Hart (Night School), Omari Hardwick (Power) and Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II). The ABFF is the preeminent pipeline for black artists in front of and behind the camera, and has significantly expanded the range of talent working in the entertainment Industry.

As “the nation’s largest community of black film and television enthusiasts” the ABFF attracts a broad audience of celebrity talent, emerging artists, upscale consumers and industry stakeholders. Approximately 7,000 to 10,000 people travel to Miami Beach each year for the five-day event. The festival opens with the premiere of an upcoming Hollywood release followed by a full schedule of intriguing independent film screenings, master classes, panels, celebrity talks, live entertainment, and a variety of networking and hospitality events.

ABOUT ABFF VENTURES:

ABFF Ventures LLC (ABFFV) is a multifaceted entertainment company specializing in the production of live events and branded content. Its mission is to entertain and inspire communities of color while promoting diversity in Hollywood. Headquartered in Los Angeles, ABFFV was formed to stimulate business growth through expansion into other events and services. Its tent-pole properties are the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), cited by MovieMaker magazine as “One of the Coolest Festivals in the World;” and “ABFF Honors,” an annual awards gala saluting the top stars of film and television. In creating ABFF Ventures, CEO Jeff Friday channeled his passion for film and television, as well as his discomfort with the underrepresentation of people of color in Hollywood, into an organization with the ultimate goal of advocating for diversity within the entertainment industry. Through his vision and perseverance, ABFF Ventures has become a highly respected enterprise, generating goodwill throughout the Hollywood and corporate communities.


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About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.


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