15 Projects To Put On Your Radar For The 2020 American Black Film Festival

August 21 2020

The American Black Film Festival is here! The 2020 edition of the festival is virtual and there are tons and tons of films, short films web series, panels, networking events, so much more that are awaiting your discovery. The festival takes place from Aug. 21-30.

This year's slate features a record number of female directors with more than half of the submissions from first-time filmmakers. The International slate includes more than 10 foreign markets including Belgium, Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Mozambique, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Below are 15 projects to keep an eye at for at the festival! This is just a small selection and there are definitely many other ones that you should definitely be aware of as well. You can view the full listing of the selections and get your viewing pass at ABFF.com


The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain

Category: Narrative Features

This film is based on the true story of the events that led to the death of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., an elderly African American veteran with bipolar disorder, who was killed during a conflict with police officers who were dispatched to check on him. It is directed and written by David Midell and has a cast including Frankie Faison, Anika Noni Rose and LaRoyce Hawkins. 

Pink Opaque

Category: Narrative Features

Elijah Boothe stars in director Derrick Perry's drama about a young man who struggles to finish his thesis documentary while reconnecting with his estranged uncle and navigating a budding romance against the wishes of his girlfriend's young brother.

Junebug

Category: Emerging Directors

Directed by Winter Dunn, Junebug is an exploration of the fierce love between a daughter and father, the complexities of an absence that words can’t touch, the power of music, and the wonderland of memory. Terrence Terrell, Danielle Truitt, Calah Lane, Jerry Madison Jr. and Ali Wakili star. 

Basic Lee

Category: Web Series

Etienne Maurice stars as socialite only famous for being the offspring of a famous person who is excommunicated from his lavish lifestyle after publicly humiliating his mother. Directed and written by Dane C. Collier, it also stars Erika Bowman, Kristen Hurt and Elohim Nycalove. 

Rudeboy's Restaraunt

Category: Narrative Features

Afraid that she’ll be negatively associated with unfavorable patrons of a Jamaican Restaurant, a white woman falsely claims to be the distant cousin of Sean Paul. Directed and written by Phillip Yaw Domfeh, the film stars Emily Anne Browning, Amanda Tarver, Candice Renee, Bret VandenBoss and Sire Dhone. 

The Available Wife

Category: Narrative Features

KJ Smith, Terayle Hill, Clifton Powell and Roger Guenveur Smith star in this drama from director Jamal Hill. Tressa Azarel Smallwood is one of the writers and producers. The description: When money, affairs, power and lies collide, Nicole Wright, a beautiful and successful music CEO's life is about to crumble in front of her. While having an affair with Kingston, the sexy artist on the rise who promises her everything, Nicole learns the hard way that looks can be deceiving and his motives are as dark as the secrets she keeps. "

Black Boy Joy

Category: HBO Short Film Competition

Black Boy Joy is described as an introspective slice of life story about two generations of Black men, living within the same household, juggling the demands of raising a young son with autism. Directed by Martina Lee, written by Michelle Sam and produced by, Nasir Kenneth Ferebee and Jhanvi Motla, the film stars Will Catlett, Evan Alex and Montae Russell. 

No Ordinary Love

Category: Narrative Features

In Chynna Robinson's feature directorial debut, two women are betrayed by their manipulative husbands and begin plotting to find a way out.  Lynn Andrews III, Eric Hanson, April Hartman and DeAna Davis star. 

A New York Christmas Wedding

Category: Narrative Features

Directed and written by Otoja Abit, the film follows Jennifer as her Christmas Eve wedding grows near. Jennifer is visited by Azrael (angel of death) and shown what could have been if she hadn't denied her true feelings for her childhood best friend. The film stars Chris Noth, Nia Fairweather, Cooper Koch, Adriana DeMeo and Tyra Ferrell.

The Ticket

Category: Web Series

Content creators Benjamin Abiola and Richard Cannon star in this selection, which centers on one man becoming the target of a secret underground world of parking ticket officers. Both Abiola and Cannon are producers while Abiola also wrote the script.

Tazmanian Devil

Category: Narrative Features

Abraham Attah, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, Adepero Oduye and Kwesi Boakye star in this coming-of-age film from director Solomon Onita Jr. and producer Benny Boom. After moving to Arlington, Texas, a 19-year-old Nigerian immigrant struggles to balance his conflicting desires of joining a college fraternity and bonding with his strictly religious father.

Farewell

Category: Narrative Features

Perry Mason and When They See Us star Chris Chalk directed and wrote this film, which boasts producers like DeWanda Wise and Alano Miller. The description: “Grace and Chance Charles have one last night with their best friends. What is supposed to be a celebratory send-off turns into a struggle to survive." Chalk, KD Chalk, Cesa Pledger, Eden Marryshow and Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut star.

River City Drumbeat

Category: Documentary Features

The logline: Mr. White trains his successor Albert Shumake to take over, while high-schoolers Imani and Jailen, and preteen Emily navigate adolescence in this multigenerational story of music, love, and legacy set in the American South. The film is directed by Marlon Johnson and Anne Flatté.

Augustus

Category: Emerging Directors

The film focuses on “a literate escaped slave masquerading as a free man in Massachusetts in 1841, experiences nightmares of his son's death and a future that resembles the struggles of his own past." The film is directed by Jon Alston and stars Ayinde Howell, Michelle Mitchenor and Patrick Cage. Howell also wrote the script.

In Hollywoodland

Category: Emerging Directors

Yetide Badaki wrote and stars in this dark fantasy short film on a struggling actress who “heads to an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime audition and lands in a strange place reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's most famous work.

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Photo: Winter Dunn

by Trey Mangum on August 21 2020

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