The 2018 American Black Film Festival (ABFF) wrapped another successful year of screenings, red carpet events, panels and competitions to a sold-out group of attendees. The event took place in Miami Beach, FL from June 13-17th.
The festival kicked off with the ABFF Creators Summit, hosted by CAA and Cadillac returned as a partner of ABFF for the eighth consecutive year, hosting a Drive for media, as well as an exclusive welcome luncheon. Actors LeToya Luckett and Tristan “Mack” Wilds engaged in a compelling panel conversation, moderated by Allison McGevna, VP of Women’s Lifestyle at iOne, about the state of Black Hollywood today.
Sony Pictures and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) presented the opening night screening of SUPERFLY at the historic Fillmore Theater, where attendees had a chance to mix and mingle before viewing the film. ABFF Ventures founder and CEO, Jeff Friday, welcomed the crowd, along with this year’s celebrity ambassador, Jay Ellis, while the entire cast–Trevor Jackson, Big Boi, Rick Ross, Future, Jason Mitchell, Michael K. Williams, Jacob Latimore–and Director X introduced the film.
Additional films that screened throughout the festival included Universal Pictures’ THE FIRST PURGE, starring Y’lan Noel (Insecure) and Lex Scott Davis (Tales); BET showcased clips from THE BOBBY BROWN STORY starring Woody McClain and Laz Alonso; TNT’s CLAWS, starring Niecy Nash and Karrueche Tran; WHITNEY, the documentary on the life of the late icon Whitney Houston and HBO surprised the audience with the premiere of the new series, RANDOM ACTS OF FLYNESS. Each screening was immediately followed by a Q&A session with members of the cast.
At the Loews Miami Beach, there were several company activations for attendees to experience: Cadillac’s VR Lounge welcomed festival goers to come and build the first-ever XT4 Sport crossover with an immersive virtual reality experience, as well as have the opportunity to receive a limited edition 2018 ABFF T-Shirt. A number of ABFF sponsors hosted events at the ABFF Industry Expo, including: TV One’s meet and greet with the cast of DOWN FOR WHATEVER and actors from ATL HOMICIDE; Comcast Xfinity’s exhibit celebrated Black Music Month with a special celebrity meet and greet featuring TV and music stars, Ryan Destiny, Jacob Latimore and the cast of THE FIRST PURGE; visitors of the Planned Parenthood Federation Of America exhibit learned more about incorporating accurate and nuanced stories related to our bodies and sexuality, and what it means to Stand With Black Women and more.
There were several conversations held over the four-day festival. The ABFF Talks: A Conversation with Ryan Coogler was moderated by Nischelle Turner (Entertainment Tonight). The Black Panther director and ABFF alum discussed his journey and outstanding accomplishments. Prudential sponsored Cocktails, Conversations & Financial Facts with actor Tobias Truvillion (IN CONTEMPT) and thought leaders discussed ways to achieve financial goals. Prudential professionals were also available to answer financial questions.
A big attraction for aspiring filmmakers and actors were the many Business of Entertainment panels at ABFF. This year’s line-up included Killer Creativity: A New Breed with directors and ABFF alums Qasim Basir, Storm Saulter and Deniese Davis from Issa Rae Productions/Color Creative, sponsored by BET; Verizon’s Without A Net: The Digital Divide in America screening and conversation with Mimi Valdés and Jesse Williams, and more.
Every year, the festival’s panels are a big hit: NBCUniversal’s First Look panels involved discussions with the casts of The First Purge (Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Gerard McMurray), Marlon and Trial & Error (Sherri Shepherd, Essence Atkins, Bresha Webb, Diallo Riddle); the Hot In Hollywood panel with Kofi Siriboe, Jacob Latimore, Logan Browning, Ashley Blaine Featherson and Bresha Webb, moderated by Dondre Whitfield and sponsored by American Airlines.
“I am really proud of this year’s content at the festival. As ABFF continues to grow, we will also seek to remain true to our core programming initiatives, which are education, artistic expression, collaboration, access and recognition. I believe we truly accomplished our goal and will continue to bring more opportunities for content creators of color in 2019,” says Jeff Friday, CEO of ABFF Ventures.
The parties at ABFF are always memorable with the opening night party at Story Nightclub, the Legendary White Party at Nikki Beach and the “It’s So Miami” closing night party at the Betsy Hotel.
On the last day of the festival, ABFF always recognizes the accomplishments of the next generation of filmmakers at their annual awards presentation. Actor/Producer Chris Spencer hosted the “Best of ABFF” Awards at the New World Center. During the ceremony, American Black Film Festival founder, Jeff Friday received the key to the city of Miami Beach from Commissioner Ricky Arriola and Ruban Roberts-Miami Dade NAACP President. It was also announced that ABFF signed a deal to return to Miami Beach for the next three years. The 2019 American Black Film Festival will be held in Miami Beach from June 12-16, 2019.
Here is the full list of the 2018 American Black Film Festival Winners:
2018 ABFF WINNER’S LIST
2018 HBO SHORT FILM AWARD, sponsored by HBO (Prize: $10,000)
“Moths and Butterflies” written and directed by Alfonso Johnson
2018 TV ONE SCREENPLAY COMPETITION WINNER (Prize: $5,000 and a production deal)
“Connected” – written by Rashim Cannad
2018 TRU TV COMEDY WRITERS COMPETITION (Prize: $5,000)
Harold Williams “Wait…What Had Happened Was”
2018 TURNER TV WRITING CONTEST WINNERS (Prize: $500/each)
Craig T. Williams “Allergic” (Comedy)
Terrence L. Moore “Uptown” (Drama)
2018 BEST WEB SERIES, sponsored by Xfinity (Prize: $3,000)
“KELOID U.S.A.,” written, produced and directed by Huriyyah Muhammad
2018 JURY AWARD FOR BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE, sponsored by Prudential (Prize: $5,000)
“Sprinter” directed by Storm Saulter
2018 JURY AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR, sponsored by Cadillac (Prize: $5,000)
Storm Salter, “Sprinter”
2018 JURY AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY, presented by ABFF (Prize: $2 500)
“Not in My Neighbourhood,” directed by Kurt Orderson
2018 JURY AWARD FOR BEST SCREENPLAY, sponsored by Time Warner
“JINN,” by Nijla Mumin
2018 AUDIENCE AWARD, sponsored by BET Networks (Prize: $10,000)
“Sprinter,” directed by Storm Saulter
2018 NBC HOSTING WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS
2018 NBC SPOTLIGHT ACTOR AWARD (Prize: $5,000)
Zoe Renee, performance in “JINN”
2018 SCRIPT TO SCREEN COMPETITION, sponsored by BET Networks and Color Creative
Courtney Perdue & Baindu Saidu, “African-America”
April Blair, “Curves”
Darnell Brown, “The Good Book”
2018 ABFF COMEDY WINGS WINNER, sponsored by HBO (Prize: $2,500)
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Sponsors for the 2018 American Black Film Festival are: HBO® (Founding and Presenting Sponsor); Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (Host and Presenting Sponsor); TV One, Cadillac, Comcast NBCUniversal (Presenting Sponsors); AT&T, BET, Prudential Financial, Turner (Premier Sponsors); AMC, American Airlines, Codeblack Films, Hennessy, The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Sony Pictures, Verizon (Official Sponsors); aspireTV, Comcast Spotlight, Facebook, FX Networks, Gentleman Jack, Google, Miami Beach VCA, Laugh Out Loud Networks, OWN, Netflix, Streampix, Time Warner, truTV, The Walt Disney Company, YouTube Originals (Supporting Sponsors); Arrington & Phillips LLP, Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Color of Change, Deluxe, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, SAGIndie, Technicolor, Urban Movie Channel, Walter Kaitz Foundation, Warner Bros. (Industry Partners) and Black Enterprise, Essence, TheGrio.com (Media Partners).
The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is an annual event dedicated to showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent. The festival is committed to the belief that Black artists and content creators deserve the same opportunities as their mainstream counterparts. ABFF founder Jeff Friday conceived the festival in 1997 as a vehicle to promote diversity in the motion picture industry and strengthen the Black filmmaking community through resource sharing, education, artistic collaboration and career development. For more than two decades, the ABFF has been the standard-bearer of excellence in independent Black cinema, having premiered the works and supported the careers of many of today’s most successful artists, including Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Anthony Anderson (Blackish), Will Packer (Girls Trip), Issa Rae (Insecure), Omari Hardwick (Power) and Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro). Today, it is the preeminent pipeline for Black artists, in front of and behind the camera, significantly expanding the range of talent in the entertainment industry at large. The ABFF is a property of ABFF Ventures LLC, a multifaceted entertainment company specializing in the production of live events, television and digital content targeted to upscale African American audiences. The company is a joint venture between Film Life Inc. and Black Enterprise, two prominent media and event companies, each with legacies of showcasing the best of Black culture and achievement.
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