Netflix's Ben Crump Doc 'CIVIL' To Open 2022 American Black Film Festival [Exclusive]
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Film

Netflix's Ben Crump Doc 'CIVIL' To Open 2022 American Black Film Festival [Exclusive]

Netflix's upcoming Ben Crump documentary, Civil, is set to open the 2022 American Black Film Festival.

ABFF returns this year as a hybrid festival featuring both in-person and virtual programming from June 15-19.

CIVIL is described as "an intimate vérité look at the life of maverick civil rights attorney Ben Crump."

The official description:

Considered a trailblazer of his field, CIVIL gives viewers an inside look at Crump’s mission to raise the value of Black life. As the civil lawyer for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Black farmers and banking while Black victims, Crump challenges America to come to terms with what it owes his clients.

The film is directed and produced by Nadia Hallgren and produced by Kenya Barris, Roger Ross Williams and Lauren Cioffi. Netflix will release CIVIL on Juneteenth after it opens the fest on June 15.

“We are thrilled to open the festival with “CIVIL,” a timely documentary bringing light to issues of social justice and equity in America,” said Nicole Friday, festival producer and president of ABFF Ventures LLC. “We’ve curated an entertaining and thought-provoking lineup of features, documentaries and web series and I am so excited to share our content with a live audience again.” 

'I am truly honored that CIVIL will be the opening night film at ABFF," said Hallgren. 'Documenting Ben Crump during this historical time gave me a front row seat to his singular perspective and this moment of time in America. I’m excited to share this complex, emotional film together, in person, as a community."

Crump stated, "The intersection of the making of CIVIL during one of the most significant calls to action in history could never have been planned, but has culminated into an extraordinary film by Nadia Hallgren that leaves me both awed and humbled by what it has captured. I'm honored to allow the world a firsthand account to witness the future of justice that can be achieved when we refuse to let our brothers and sisters be marginalized by the enemies of equality.”

Check out the festival's narrative features, documentary features and web series lineup below:

NARRATIVE FEATURES (U.S. & International)

A competitive section for U.S. and international feature-length films directed by or written and produced by persons of African descent. Films in this category are eligible to be nominated to compete for the following Jury Awards – Best Director (presented by Cadillac, $5,000 cash prize), Best Narrative Feature (presented by Sony, $2,500 cash prize), and Best Screenplay (presented by TV One, $2,500 cash prize). In addition, if a person of African descent has directed a film in this section and it is their first feature, they will be eligible to compete for the John Singleton Award for Best First Feature (presented by Netflix, $5,000 cash prize). The following films represent the 2022 official selections in the Narrative Features category: 

Between Sins *World Premiere 

Faced with the responsibilities of an ill mother and estranged daughter, Coy searches for redemption for past sins while trying to avoid the pitfalls that could lead to repeating them. USA | 83 min 

Director: Carlos Miller 

Writer: Carlos Miller 

Producers: Tyler Cheatham, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Miller 

Cast: George Taylor, Rigoberto Duval, Carolyn Johnson, Skyla Rain Rowe, Angela Kohn 

Bite of a Mango *World Premiere 

2020 comes with enough challenges of its own, but as four best friends each attempt to overcome their own trying situations, they are left unsure if the group can survive. CANADA | 98 min 

Director: Ron Dias 

Writers: Joanne Jansen, Ron Dias 

Producers: Joanne Jansen, Ron Dias 

Cast: Jayne Kamara, Ryan Rosery, Orville Cummings, Nathan Taylor 

Escaping Paradise *World Premiere 

A young couples’ anniversary trip turns deadly in a foreign land. 

PHILIPPINES | 91 min 

Director: Paul Tanter 

Writer: Deji LaRay 

Producers: Thomas Q. Jones, Deji LaRay, DeNorvious Pickett 

Cast: Deji LaRay, Simon Phillips, Shayla Hale 

Feel Like Ghosts *World Premiere 

Two recent exes with an undeniable connection confront what could have been if their cultural differences hadn’t pushed them to new lives on opposite coasts. 

USA | 100 min 

Director: Kali Baker-Johnson 

Writer: Kali Baker-Johnson 

Producer: Lola Ridgell

Cast: Nican Robinson, Misha Molani 

God of Dreams *U.S. Festival Premiere 

Welcome to the future, where dreaming is Illegal. 

USA | 104 min 

Director: Jurian Isabelle 

Writer: Jurian Isabelle 

Producers: Jurian Isabelle, Joe Langford 

Cast: Ann Nesby, Julia Reilly, Jessie Reeder, Keshawn Pettigrew, Omar Cook 

Our Father, the Devil 

An African immigrant’s quiet life in a small French town is upended by the arrival of a charismatic Catholic priest, whom she recognizes as the warlord who slaughtered her family. 

USA | FRANCE | 108 min 

Director: Ellie Foumbi 

Writer: Ellie Foumbi 

Producers: Ellie Foumbi, Joseph Mastantuono 

Cast: Babetida Sadjo, Souleymane Sy Savané, Jennifer Tchiakpe 

Scheme Queens *World Premiere 

Four friends who are down on their luck decide to rob a ruthless Rastafarian jewel thief by conning his second in command. 

USA | 94 min 

Director: Cas Sigers Beedles 

Writer: Cas Sigers Beedles 

Producers: Cas Sigers Beedles, Ernestine Johnson 

Cast: B. Simone, Ernestine Johnson, Brii Reneé, Jacky Oh 

Survival 

A car-jacked mother and entrepreneur is forced to bond with her violent assailant in order to escape. 

USA | 90 min 

Director: Damon Jamal 

Writers: Damon Jamal, Dave Eisenstark 

Producers: Leah Daniels Butler, Henry Black Butler, Damone Smith, Damon Jamal Cast: Elise Neal, Demetrius Grosse, Dylan McNamara, Miguel A. Nuñez Jr. 

The Threesome *World Premiere 

A sex comedy told in three ways. 

USA | 92 min 

Director: Jamal Dedeaux 

Writer: Jamal Dedeaux 

Producers: Jaleel Ghafur, Rebecca Haze, Jamal Dedeaux 

Cast: Andrea Lewis, Brittany S. Hall, Jerrel O’Neal 

You Married Dat 

Two happy brides, one dead guy! 

USA | 114 min 

Director: Dame Pierre 

Writers: Byron Manuel, Curtis L. Ellison Jr., Tarek Abdelkhalig 

Producers: Timothy Christian, Sherah Rider, Elijah Kelley 

Cast: Juhahn Jones, Apryl Jones, LisaRaye, Audra Kinkead, Michael Colyar

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES 

A competitive section for nonfiction feature films directed by persons of African descent or centered on the culture and experiences of persons of African descent. Films in this category are eligible to be nominated to compete for the Jury Award for Best Documentary (presented by Amazon, $2,500 cash prize). The following films represent the 2022 official selections in the Documentary Features category: 

A Woman on the Outside 

Kristal is a young, ambitious Philadelphian driven to keep families connected to their incarcerated loved ones. But when her father and brother return from prison, she confronts the ultimate question: can she reunite her own family? 

USA | 85 min 

Directors: Zara Katz, Lisa Riordan Seville 

Writer: Kiara C. Jones 

Producers: Kiara C. Jones, Zara Katz, Lisa Riordan Seville 

Cast: Kristal Bush, Nyvae Scott, Kristal Speaks 

American Immigrants *World Premiere 

Being homeless is an experience not a person. 

USA | 60 min 

Director: Ken Miles 

Writer: Ken Miles 

Producer: Ken Miles 

Cast: Jorge Colina, Nathan White 

Black As U R: a micheal rice film 

Micheal Rice’s kaleidoscopic journey through the fault lines of race, gender and sexuality in America. 

USA | 87 min 

Director: Micheal Rice 

Writer: Micheal Rice 

Producer: Edward Radford 

Executive Producers: Micheal Rice, Gerald Oxford 

Cast: Micheal Rice, Dr. Charlene Sinclair, Michael Roberson 

Blind Eye Artist *World Premiere 

The origin story of painter Justin Wadlington, blind in his left eye. 

USA | 76 min 

Director: Ashwin Chaudhary 

Producers: Ashwin Chaudhary, Jonathan Korn, Justin Wadlington 

Cast: Justin Wadlington, Glenn Fuhrman 

Drowning in Silence 

A mother goes on a healing journey to investigate the silent epidemic of childhood drowning after losing her son. 

USA | 81 min 

Director: Chezik Tsunoda 

Writers: Chezik Tsunoda, Claire Ave’Lallemant 

Producers: Hill Harper, Joe Beshenkovsky, Chezik Tsunod 

Let The Church Say *World Premiere

In a time of racial upheaval and a multitude of woes affecting marginalized communities, a young African American filmmaker journeys to the heart of the Black experience to find the answer to a daunting question: Is the Black church dead? 

USA | 70 min 

Director: Rafiq J Nabali 

Writer: Rafiq J Nabali 

Producers: Joe Howell, Nancy Howard, Danielle Nebeliuk 

Cast: Jekalyn Carr, Dr. Teresa Fry Brown, Dr. Walter Fluker, Darlene McCoy 

Lovely Jackson *World Premiere 

America’s longest wrongfully held exonerated prisoner, Rickey Jackson, returns to the prison where his 39-year journey of survival began and guides his younger self from death row to freedom. 

USA | 104 min 

Director: Matt Waldeck 

Writers: Rickey Jackson, Matt Waldeck 

Producers: Rickey Jackson, Matt Waldeck, Jillian Wolstein, Ben Hecht, Travis Killian Cast: Rickey Jackson, Edward Vernon, Pr. Anthony Singleton, Mario Beverly, Devito Parker Jr. 

The Young Vote *World Premiere 

Filmmaker Diane Robinson follows a diverse group of students and activists during the 2020 election to understand young peoples’ perceptions of voting and civic engagement. USA | 67 min 

Director: Diane Robinson 

Writer: Diane Robinson 

Producer: Diane Robinson 

Cast: Ariana Tulay, Dariel Cruz Rodriguez, Elena Ashburn, Liz Magallanes, Sophia DeLoretto-Chudy, John King, Bradley Tusk, Jeremy Gruber 

WEB SERIES

A competitive section for short-form episodic television directed by or produced and written by persons of African descent. Each series in this section will compete for the Jury Award for Best Web Series (presented by Comcast NBCUniversal, $2,500 cash prize). The following are the 2022 official selections in the Web Series category: 

Bourn Kind: The Tiny Kindness Project 

A Black/Jewish artist creates a project of kindness to celebrate connection in his community. USA | 12 min 

Director: Rachel Myers 

Writer: Rachel Myers 

Producer: Tamika Lamison, Connie Jo Sechrist, Rachel Myers 

Cast: Bourn Rich 

Dreamers 

The zany misadventures of two sisters navigating the ups and downs of life, as artists, in the wild and unpredictable streets of La La Land. 

USA | 7:30 min 

Director: Kimberly Dooley 

Writer: Kimberly Dooley 

Producer: Kimberly Dooley 

Cast: Kimberly Dooley, Dayna Dooley 

I am Mara *World Premiere

Striving to break free from a life of espionage, murder and destructive family ties, Mara sets out to fabricate a new life for herself, but soon realizes the truth will always reveal itself and all sins must be atoned for. 

USA | 14:33 min 

Directors: Cody Duncum, Demetrius Feaster 

Writers: Candace West, Clarinda D’Cruze 

Producer: Candace West, Demetrius Feaster, Clarinda D’Cruze 

Cast: Candace Kirstin West, Keith Elgin Douglas, Alek President, Jose Navarro, Virginia Elliot, David Chin 

Jonathan’s World *U.S. Festival Premiere 

Boy genius sips magical potion causing him to obtain enhanced capabilities. USA | 14 min 

Director: Tyler D. Lambert 

Writer: Tyler D. Lambert 

Producer: Tyler D. Lambert 

Cast: Tyler D. Lambert 

Last Name Unknown *World Premiere 

Beyond Hope Youth Shelter’s homeless youth beat the odds, and find their place in society. USA | 15 min 

Director: Dui Jarrod 

Writer: Dui Jarrod 

Producers: Kevin “Coach K” Lee, Pierre “Pee” Thomas, Dui Jarrod, Chris Hicks, David Blackman 

Cast: Chakeefe Gordon, Erika Norrell, Braxton Jordan, Lindsey G. Smith 

Layered, “Stalker” *World Premiere 

A series following three black women from Philadelphia, two of them Muslim, trying to break into the media industry while being met with challenges in mental health, faith, and loss due to gun violence. 

USA | 12:57 min 

Director: Zareefa Abdul-Adl 

Writers: Arraiyan DuBose, Aiko Brown, Zareefa Abdul-Adl 

Producers: Aiko Brown, Arraiyan DuBose, Zareefa Abdul-Adl 

Cast: Merceedes White, LaPorscha Rodgers, Aisha Saran 

Little Lawyer *U.S. Festival Premiere 

A six-year-old girl with aspirations of being an attorney puts her little brother on trial after she discovers her toy is inoperative. 

USA | 12 min 

Director: Sam Buckner III 

Writer: Sam Buckner III 

Producers: Sam Buckner, Samantha O. Buckner 

Cast: Sophia Dejesus, London Sinead, Wyatt Hinz, Ayani Tamar, Brandon. L Ward, Alex Jackson 

Mine 

When the sudden disappearance of water — their main life source — threatens to upend a vibrant utopia, an intrepid teen named Blaze must save their community before it’s too late. 

USA | 12:30 min 

Directors: Randall Dottin, Luisa Dantas 

Writers: Randall Dottin, Angela Tucker, Paige Wood, Luisa Dantas, Rise-Home Stories Project

Producers: Randall Dottin, Angela Tucker, Paige Wood, Luisa Dantas, 

Rise-Home Stories Project, Anna Lee, Russell Hornsby 

Cast: Russell Hornsby, Denny Dillon, Imani Russell, Kaya Fraites, Sunni Patterson 

The Green Couch (Ep. 2) *World Premiere 

Psychologist Dr. Rhemington Lee engages patients in an unwitting experiment of truth as each convene on The Green Couch. 

USA | 14:08 min 

Director: Mirlande Amazan 

Writer: Mirlande Amazan 

Producer: Mirlande Amazan 

Cast: Mirlande Amazan, Antuone Torbert; narrated by Gordon Greene 

The Whippersnappers *World Premiere 

OG, Big Mama and Foegy, aka “The Oldheads,” growing tired of the same routine, decide to use technology to become younger. 

USA | 4:56 min 

Director: Ryan Cole 

Writer: Ryan Cole 

Producer: Ryan Cole 

Cast: Ryan Cole 

More on ABFF 2022

Sponsors and partners to date include Warner Bros. Discovery & HBO® (Founding); Cadillac, City of Miami Beach, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), Sony Pictures Entertainment, Prime Video (Presenting); American Airlines, Comcast NBCUniversal, Meta, IMDb (Premier); ALLBLK, Prudential Financial, Variety, TV One, Netflix, Starz, Disney+ (Official); Accenture, Motion Pictures Association (MPA), A&E Indie Films, Springhill Company, The Boston Globe, Color of Change, Confluential Films (Supporting).

Learn more at ABFF.com.

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