The 20th American Black Film Festival converged on South Beach, June 15 -19 for a weekend of exclusive independent film screenings, workshops, panels, seminars, parties and more! Last but not least is the festival’s finale, “the star-studded opening night screening to the closing ‘Best of Festival’ awards ceremony.” This year rapper and comedian Common served as the festival ambassador.
Thousands of filmgoers, producers, directors, actors and actresses made their way to the stage to dialogue on the state of African American films. The independent films shown at the festival were engaging films that dealt with historic time periods, current news issues and family matters that affect every American around the world.
Jax Free Press Urban Traveler crew attended ABFF in the early days, during the late 90’s headed into the millennium. Since then many stars have arisen from the ABFF golden dust. Think Like a Man producer Will Packard was just a budding filmmaker and graduate of Florida Agricultural Mechanical University, and is now a leading filmmaker and producer in Hollywood. Lisa Raye was still finding her way and has now become a top actress with leading roles in movies and TV sitcoms. ABFF founder and CEO Jeff Friday is still on top of his game, providing the platform for filmmakers to achieve their destiny. Robert Townsend is continuing his word with his daughter Skye Townsend, making a way for the young millennial to take a place on the Hollywood stage of life. Legendary actor, writer, producer and director and man of stature Bill Duke is still on the scene; his festival appearance makes you want to immediately turn on your TV to his prolific produced hits: Car Wash, Deep Cover, Back in the Habit, Get Rich or Die Trying, Hoodlum, Predator, Menace II Society and Not Easily Broken, Dark Girls and Light Girls, and more!
This year was the year of new found fame bestowed upon new comers Nate Parker with his film “Birth of a Nation”. Celebrity and Attorney Star Jones questioned Nate on his new film, while actress Vanessa Bell-Callaway took part in “Scene Stealers,” where actors and actresses read from various scripts. Cedric the Entertainer was on top of his comedic game headlining five comedians; the winner secured a meeting with HBO executives.
Jax Free Press Urban Traveler was busy interviewing celebrities discussing their new projects: 2015 ABFF winner, Keronda ‘Kiki’ McKnight premiered her TV One made for TV movie “Bad Dad Rehab” premiering July 3rd; T.D. Jakes new talk show premiering September 12. Finally the “Best of Festival” awards show, where actor Cory Hardwict emotional speech for best actor was poignant and endearing.
The Urban Traveler Crew had the awesome privilege of being a groupie for local Jacksonville filmmaker Natasha Owens. Natasha was on the front row with her festival pass, eagerly showcasing her screenplay “Airing Grandma’s Laundry & Other ‘Hush Hush’ Family Secrets”. Natasha has professed that her ultimate goal is to turn her script into a major motion picture.
Get your script ready for next year, or dust off the script you been wanting to submit and be prepared to mix and mingle with Black Hollywood, while honing your craft in front of your peers. For more visit www.abff.com.