18th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival Kicks Off Today (70+ Films, 12 World Premieres, Special Events, More)
Photo Credit: S & A

18th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival Kicks Off Today (70+ Films, 12 World Premieres, Special Events, More)

nullThe 18th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival (www.urbanworld.org),

presented by BET Networks with founding sponsor HBO, kicks off today, running from September 17-21 at Manhattan’s AMC Loews 34th Street 14, and various other locations in New York, with a roster of over 70 films, including a whopping 12 world premieres, as well as host of panels, conversations and more. 

"Beyond the Lights," the latest from writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood, will be the opening night film, screening tonight, Thursday, September 18

at the SVA Theater, at 333 W. 23rd Street.

The BET/Relativity Media-backed next feature film tells the story of Noni Jean, a hot new artist who has just won a Grammy and is primed for stardom. But the pressures of success compel her to nearly end her life until she is saved by a young police officer. They fall hard for each other, despite the protests of their parents who want each to focus on their own career ambitions. But he might be the missing piece to unlock her artistic potential. 

"Beyond the Lights" stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker. Danny Glover and Minnie Driver co-star.

The film will be released theatrically by Relativity, with an official release date now set for November 14, 2014. So consider this an early look at the film for those who’ll be attending tonight’s screening.

This will be Bythewood’s first feature film directorial effort since 2008’s "The Secret Life of Bees."

Other Urbanworld screening highlights of films we’ve previously covered on this blog include: "Difret," directed by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari (Ethiopia), "In the Morning," directed by Nefertite Nguvu, which will be making its world premiere (USA); and in the documentary feature section, "SODIQ," directed by Adeyemi Michael (UK), "The Hip-Hop Fellow," directed by Kenneth Price, making its NYC premiere (USA), "God Loves The Fighter," directed by Damian Marcano, making its NYC (Trinidad & Tobago), and several others, including short works from Frances Bodomo ("Afronauts"), Booker T. Mattison ("Habeas Corpus"), Moon Molson ("The Bravest, The Boldest"), and much more.

Additional event highlights of the festival include  a spotlight conversation with acclaimed festival alumni, writer/director Ava DuVernay, in her first public dialogue about her upcoming film, "Selma," during which she’ll also present never-before-seen clips from the film exclusively at Urbanworld. This special event, moderated by Urbanworld Executive Producer Gabrielle Glore, will take place on Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.an exclusive look at scenes from the upcoming Lionsgate/Codeblack Films release, "Addicted," with a Q & A with the stars and filmmakers. Boris Kodjoe, Tyson Beckford and William Levy will join author Zane and director Bille Woodruff in a Q & A on Friday, September 19, 2014 at 7:30pm at Manhattan’s AMC Loews 34th Street 14. Issa Rae’s ColorCreative.TV, making a full-fledged push into television, will premiere 3 independently produced half-hour comedy pilots at Urbanworld on Friday, September 19 and Saturday, September 20, with the eventual goal of bringing all three projects to television. Also, there’s HBO Latino’s screening of "Habla Men," the newest installment of its

originally produced award-winning Habla series on what it means to be Latino in the United States; Urban Action Showcase night, which will include a screening of Michael Jai White’s latest actioner, "Falcon Rising," as well as a conversation on diversity in action movies, featuring White, Taimak and others. There’s also Urbanworld

Underground, a platform that to highlight and encourage maverick content creators who are

transcending conventional filmmaking with innovative storytelling, and Urbanworld Digital a festival component that addresses technology’s impact on the creation and marketing of content, with gaming, social media, and production executives sharing their expertise.

“Our 2014 film slate reflects the significance and esteem the festival has achieved over the past 17 years. As the

largest multicultural festival, we continue to strive to make Urbanworld ‘THE’ destination for filmmakers and

studios to connect with a diverse movie-going audience," said Gabrielle Glore, Executive Producer and Head

of Programming, Urbanworld. "This year, we are excited to add an even deeper variety of international films,

as well as content that targets the Latino community. With BET and HBO as our partners, we are able to continue

to highlight stories that the world needs to see.”

S&A will be at the festival this year, so expect reviews/write-ups of some of the films that will screen.

Full details on all the festival’s offering can be found on its website: www.urbanworld.com.


Beyond the Lights – Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (USA) – US Premiere


Avenues – Directed by Aaref Rodriguez (USA) – Hosted by HBO Latino

Blood and Bone – Directed by Ben Ramsey (USA) – Hosted by Cinemax – Curated by Urban Action Showcase

Habla Men – Hosted by HBO Latino

Purple Rain – Directed by Albert Magnoli (USA) – 30th Anniversary Sing-A-Long

Sleep Dealer – Directed by Alex Rivera (Mexico) – Hosted by The National Association of Latino Independent Producers

Urbanworld Underground – Curated by Project Catalyst

– Jo – Directed by April A. Wilson (USA)

– La Solitaria – Directed by Nelson Isava (USA)

– Page 36 – Directed by Nelsan Ellis (USA)

– The Unseen Beauty – Directed by Gabriel de Urioste (USA)

– Touch – Directed by Shola Amoo (United Kingdom)

– Trust & Estates – Directed by Jeanette Bonds (USA)


Brooklyn – Directed by Pascal Tessaud (France) – US Premiere

Christmas Wedding Baby – Directed by Kiara Jones (USA) – World Premiere

Cry Now – Directed by Alberto Barboza (USA) – New York Premiere

Difret – Directed by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari (Ethiopia)

God Loves The Fighter – Directed by Damian Marcano (Trinidad & Tobago) – New York Premiere

In the Morning – Directed by Nefertite Nguvu (USA) – World Premiere

Lake Los Angeles – Directed by Mike Ott (USA) – New York Premiere

Los Angeles – Directed by Damian John Harper (Mexico) – New York Premiere

Love Magical – Directed by Justin Foran & Jason Sokoloff – World Premiere

Montana – Directed by Mo Ali Out of Comp (UK) – US Premiere

Night Has Settled – Directed by Steve Clark (USA)

Unsound – Directed by Darious Britt (USA)

What It Was – Directed by Daniel Armando (USA)


12 Months – Charysse Tia Harper (USA) – World Premiere

Finding Samuel Lowe – Directed by Jeanette Kong (USA)

Hating Obama – Directed by Marquis Smalls (USA) – World Premiere

Lucky – Directed by Laura Checkoway (USA)

Sewing Hope – Directed by Derek Watson (Uganda) – New York Premiere3

SODIQ – Directed by Adeyemi Michael (UK)

The Hip-Hop Fellow – Directed by Kenneth Price (USA) – New York Premiere


Bookin – Directed by John Kerkscey (USA)


Nine – Directed by Wanichaya Phraejunya & Chawalit Kaewmanee (Thailand)


Afronauts – Directed by Frances Bodomo (USA)

Anatomy of Assistance – Directed by Cory Bowles (Canada) – New York Premiere

Barrio Boy – Directed by Dennis Shinners (USA)

Berea – Directed by Vincent Moloi (South Africa) – East Coast Premiere

Celluloid Dreams – Directed by Jonathan Dillon (USA) – New York Premiere

Contamination – Directed by R. Shanea Williams (USA) – New York Premiere

ContentMode x J. Cooper Present “206” Starring David Oyelowo – Directed by J. Cooper (USA)

For The Birds – Directed by Tara Atashgah (USA/Iran)

Full-Windsor – Directed by Faraday Okoro (USA) – New York Premiere

Habeas Corpus – Directed by Booker T. Mattison (USA) – New York Premiere

Hechki (Hiccups) – Directed by Kartik Singh (USA) – World Premiere

Hermanas – Directed by Cristina Kotz Cornejo (Mexico) – East Coast Premiere

Hypebeasts – Directed by Jessica dela Merced (USA)

Isaiah’s Birthday – Directed by Shawn Gerrard (Canada) – World Premiere

J-1 – Directed by Geoffrey Guerrero (USA)

Jaya – Directed by Puja Maewal (India) – New York Premiere

Jenny & Lalo – Directed by Janine Salinas Schoenberg (USA) – East Coast Premiere

L’Autre Feme – Directed by marie KA (Senegal) – East Coast Premiere

Midday Crisis – Directed by Jeff Man (USA) – New York Premiere

Milk & Honey – Directed by Daniel Pfeffer (USA)

Missing Grandma – Directed by Adel L. Morales (USA) – World Premiere

Muted – Directed by Rachel Goldberg (USA)

One Past – Directed by Juli S. Kobayashi (USA) – World Premiere

Pitahaya – Directed by Albert Espinosa (Spain) – New York Premiere

Present Trauma – Directed by Mark D. Manalo (USA) – East Coast Premiere

Serena Strong – Directed by Philiane Phang (USA) – World Premiere

Seventh Grade – Directed by Stefani Saintoge (USA)

Silencio Chino – Directed by Javier Melero De Luca (Venezuela) – US Premiere

Sketch – Directed by Stephen T. Barton (USA) – New York Premiere

Strings Attached – Directed by Nelcie Souffrant (USA) – New York Premiere

The Bravest, The Boldest – Directed by Moon molson (USA) – New York Premiere

The End Again – Directed by Crystle C. Roberson (USA) – New York Premiere

Tobacco Burn – Directed by Justin Liberman (USA) – New York Premiere

Tonsure – Directed by Fred Bumaye (USA) – World Premiere

Woman In Fragments – Directed by Qun Xhou (USA/China/Japan) – New York Premiere

Your Love – Directed by Laila Petrone (USA) – World Premiere

You’re Dead To Me – Directed by Wu Tsang (USA) – New York Premiere4

More at www.urbanworld.com.

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