The 2015 edition of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) opens its doors today, with a lineup of documentaries, web originals, short films and narrative features – which will be showcased at the AMC Empire 25 in Times Square.
Director Rick Famuyiwa’s buzzy "Dope" – presented by the Motion Picture Association – will make its New York City debut at the festival, tonight, opening night, Thursday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m at the SVA Theatre. Produced by Forest Whitaker, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Pharrell Williams, and Sean “P.Diddy” Combs, the coming of age comedy/drama has been one of the buzziest film releases of the 2015 season thus far.
Following the screening, the ABFF will host an old-school hip-hop after-party to celebrate "Dope" at Stage 48, 605 West 48th Street, NYC. The evening will be hosted by the legendary Doug E. Fresh, with music mixes provided by DJ D-Nice. There will be special performances by iconic hip-hop artists throughout the party.
"Dope" will also have an encore screening during the festival on Sunday, June 14, at the AMC Empire 25 Theatre on 42nd Street in New York City.
This year’s Spotlight Screenings, include John Singleton’s "Boyz N The Hood," the Season 4 premiere of "ABFF Independent," with new host David Banner, Tasha Smith’s "Boxed In," as well as features from ABFF alumni Julius Onah, Roger Bobb and Datari Turner.
“This year’s films highlight the importance of giving a voice to diverse storytellers. From a documentary on American mountaineers to a narrative about Black models, our roster of films reflects the breadth of the Black experience. It is also always wonderful to see ABFF alum return to showcase their latest projects. We encourage everyone to come out and support the work of these talented filmmakers,” said Jeff Friday, ABFF CEO and Founder.
There’s also the TV One-sponsored ABFF annual screenplay competition, which offers budding writers the opportunity to showcase their talents, and potentially see their project produced.
The top 3 finalists, as determined by TV One, will have a scene from their screenplay performed live by professional actors in front of the festival attendees. Of the 3 finalists, 1 grand prize winner will be selected to win a cash prize of $5,000, and will have their screenplay produced to premiere at the 20th Annual American Black Film Festival and premiere on TV One in 2016.
Also this year, the festival is hosting its first multicultural Television & Media Expo, which will provide a space for network, cable, and Internet/digital media broadcasters to promote programming and showcase diversity initiatives to more than 7,000 consumers.
Titled the ABFF Television & Media Expo, it will take place over 2 days (June 13 and 14), during the 19th annual ABFF (June 11–14), at the New York Hilton Midtown.
"The success of today’s multicultural programming, proves that Americans want to see a diverse cross section of our world on television, as well as at the movies. We have found that diverse programming translates into box-office and ratings success and is a true reflection of our nation. We are excited to offer companies the opportunity to connect with multicultural consumers and talent in this unique way," states Film Life, Inc. CEO Jeff Friday.
Expo participants include HBO, Comcast Xfinity, NBCUniversal, TV One, UP TV and Aspire.
Taraji P. Henson is acting as this year’s ABFF celebrity ambassador.
The American Black Film Festival is a four-day event dedicated to showcasing stories by and about people of African descent. It’s set to take place in New York City, June 11-14, 2015. Sponsors are HBO (Presenting & Founding); TV One (Presenting); Cadillac, Comcast NBCUniversal and Prudential Financial Services (Premier); American Airlines, AMC Theatres and McDonald’s (Signature); Motion Picture Association of America (Supporting); and Uptown Magazine and The YBF (Media Partners).
For festival passes, tickets and film submission information, visit www.ABFF.com.
The complete list of films selected for Spotlight, Narrative Features Competition, HBO Short Film Competition, ABFF Web Originals, and the ABFF Documentary Competition follows below:
OPENING NIGHT FILM
2014 USA 115 MIN HD NY Premiere
Sponsored by the Motion Picture Association of America
Courtesy of Open Road Films
Directed by: Rick Famuyiwa
Written by: Rick Famuyiwa
Produced by: Forest Whitaker, Nina Yang Bongiovi
Executive Producers: Pharrell Williams, Michael Y. Chow, Rick Famuyiwa, David Lonner
Co-Exec. Prod: Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. Co-Prods: Mimi Valdes, Caron Veazys
Cast: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky, Chanel Iman, Quincy Brown
SPOTLIGHT SCREENINGS 2015
ABFF INDEPENDENT – Season 4 Premiere
2015 USA 35 MIN World Premiere
ABFF Independent is a showcase of popular and award-winning films from the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) hosted by hip-hop artist, record producer and actor David Banner.
AN UNEXPECTED HISTORY: THE STORY OF HENNESSY AND AFRICAN AMERICANS
2015 USA 49 MIN HD World Premiere
Courtesy of Hennessy
Directed by: Llewellyn Smith
Produced by: Llewellyn Smith, Annie Stopford
Featuring: Jason P. Chambers, PhD, Herbert P. Douglas Jr., Noel Hankin, Rhonda McDonald, Rodney Williams
An Unexpected History celebrates Moët Hennessy’s hundred-year relationship with African American culture, as well as the role of African Americans in shaping the brand’s identity and success. The film recounts Hennessy’s historic role in bringing respect and opportunities to Black professionals and consumers, by focusing on the remarkable achievements of two of the brand’s most influential Black executives.
BOYZ N THE HOOD + Q&A with director John Singleton to follow
1991 USA 108 MIN 35 mm
Courtesy of Turner Classic Movies (TCM)
Directed by: John SingletonWritten by: John Singleton
Produced by: Steve Nicolaides
Cast: Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Angela Bassett, Regina King
John Singleton’s classic saga tells the story of a group of childhood friends growing up in a Los Angeles ghetto.
BOXED IN + Q&A with actress and director Tasha Smith to follow
2014 USA 30 MIN HD World Premiere
Directed by: Tasha Smith
Written by: Tasha Smith
Produced by: Tasha Smith, Kim Ogletree
Cast: Walter Fauntleroy, Antonique Smith, Tyra Ferrell
A Black man in NYC struggles with bipolar disorder, while his girlfriend and mother learn to deal with the pain of his manic episodes and struggle for mental survival.
RUNAWAY ISLAND + Q&A with the director and cast to follow
2015 USA 85 MIN Estimated HD World Premiere
Courtesy of TV One
Directed by: Dianne Houston
Written by: Christopher Brandt
Produced by: Gingi Rochelle & Allison Wilmarth
Cast: Lorraine Toussaint (Orange Is the New Black), Thomas Q. Jones
(Being Mary Jane), Aisha Hinds (Star Trek Into Darkness), Leon Thomas
(Victorious), A. Russell Andrews (Grey’s Anatomy, House of Payne),
Erica Tazel (Justified), Melanie Liburd (CSI, Stalker).
A pastor, an aging widow, and a socialite with cold feet visit a luxurious Gullah Sea Island resort to be rejuvenated by its holistic setting.
Directed by: Wade Allain-Marcus, Jesse Allain-Marcus
Written by: Peter K. Hagen, Wade Allain-Marcus
Produced by: Jason Wolf, Mel Jones
Cast: Wade Allain-Marcus, Melina Lizette, Arjun Gupta
After committing the carnal sin of sleeping with his best friend’s girlfriend, Vincent must deal with the consequences of his betrayal and hope that his bond with his brother-from-another-mother can withstand the blow
GIRLFRIENDS’ GETAWAY 2 ** FEATURED ALUMNI SCREENING
Directed by: Roger M. Bobb
Written by: Cas Sigers-Beedles
Produced by: Roger M. Bobb, Angi Bones, Cas Sigers, Terri J. Vaughn
Cast: Garcelle Beauvais, Terri J. Vaughn, Essence Atkins, Malinda Williams, Stephen Bishop,
Four girlfriends travel to Puerto Rico for a destination wedding and chaos ensues when the low-key wedding turns into a disaster.
JOHN OF GOD THE MOVIE
2014/ Democratic Republic of Congo/86min/HD/North America Premiere
Directed by: Selé M’Poko
Written by: Selé M’Poko
Produced by: Selé M’Poko, Alessia Michielan, Jo D. Jonz, Woody T. Richman, Pamela Lubell
Cast: Jo D. Jonz, Jean Shaka Tshipamba, Moïse Ilunga
John of God is the world’s greatest musician…in his own mind.
Directed by: Ben Bowman
Written by: Bryan Abrams, Ben Bowman
Produced by: Gbenga Akinnagbe, Ben Bowman
Executive Producers: Jonathan Gray, Debra Azemar
Cast: Gbenga Akinnagbe, Alfre Woodard, Amari Cheatom, Justin Myrick, Nikiya Mathis, Carla Duren
Convinced prescription drugs will fix his mind, a mentally disabled man leaves Brooklyn for the first time to find the one doctor who he believes can cure him.
Directed by: Harold Jackson III
Written by: Harold Jackson III
Produced by: Harold Jackson III, Hope Taylor, Prince Levy Jr., Latecia Durham
Cast: Judi Blair, Danny Gavigan, Benton Greene, Nedra McClyde, Nikkole Salter
A woman’s last night alone before settling down is sidetracked by a chance meeting with an attractive stranger.
SUPERMODEL *** FEATURED ALUMNI SCREENING
Directed by: Shawn Baker
Written by: Shawn Baker, Datari Turner
Produced by: Datari Turner
Cast: Tyson Beckford, Sessilee Lopez, Datari Turner, Roger Guenveur Smith, Fat Joe, Toccara Jones, Angela Simmons, Marc John Jefferies, Tatyana Ali, Nichole Galicia, Melissa De Sousa, Don Benjamin, Cassandra Freeman, Tobias Truvillion, Julito McCullum, Adam Senn
A young girl from the Brooklyn housing projects goes from the subway to the runway, becoming one of the most sought after models in the fashion industry. But in the high stakes world of fashion and beauty, things aren’t always as pretty and glamorous as they seem.
THE GIRL IS IN TROUBLE *** FEATURED ALUMNI SCREENING
Directed by: Julius Onah
Written by: Mayuran Tiruchelvam, Julius Onah
Produced by: Dana Offenbach, Ryan Silbert, Robert Profusek, Jen Gatien
Cast: Columbus Short, Wilmer Valderrama, Alicja Bachelda, Jesse Spencer
A Lower East Side bartender becomes entangled in a murder mystery involving a desperate woman, a missing drug dealer and the scion of a powerful investment firm.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
Directed by: Kenny Young
Written by: Kenny Young
Produced by: Phil James, Lisa D. Washington, Kim Hardin
Executive Producers: Angela White, Felicia James
Cast: Colin Egglesfield, David Faustino, Fred Willard, Anna Hutchinson, Brian White, Gary Owen
A "ladies man" must face his own fear of commitment while hosting his best friend’s bachelor party.
THE SIN SEER
Directed by: Paul D. Hannah
Written by: Paul D. Hannah
Produced by: Paul D. Hannah, Angela White, Isaiah Washington
Cast: Lisa Arrindell Anderson, Isaiah Washington, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, C. Thomas Howell,
Michael Ironside, Richard Brooks
A woman becomes trapped in a murderous web deception and uses her gift of discernment to discover the truth.
WHAT LOVE WILL MAKE YOU DO
Directed by: Lisa Haynes
Written by: Lisa Haynes
Produced by: Lisa Haynes, Andre Congo, Justin Bones, Darrin Dewitt Henson, Brad James,
Ty Johnston, Victoria Rowell
Cast: Darrin Dewitt Henson, Judi Blair, Victoria Rowell, Darryl Booker, Sir Brodie,
Carl Anthony Payne II, Brad James
An attorney from a prestigious law firm falls in love with a beautiful woman of his dreams, but later discovers her father is seeking revenge against him over a court case gone terribly wrong.
HBO® SHORT FILM COMPETITION
2015/USA/14min/HD/New York Premiere
Directed by: Pete Chatmon
Written by: Tony Patrick
Produced by: Christina DeHaven, Tony Patrick, Dorian Missick, Dylan Verrechia, ELEW
Executive Producer: Pete Chatmon
Cast: Dorian Missick, Simone Missick, Hisham Tawfiq, Stephen Hill, Erika Myers, Malikha Mallette, April Matthis, Valence Thomas
In a culture requiring an ID card and commitment to the code, an African American couple is about to find out just how far the boundaries can be pushed….
2014/USA/11min/HD/New York Premiere
Directed by: Dominic Haxton
Written by: Chris Bailey
Produced by: Chris Bailey
Cast: Dusan Brown, Shawn Kenneth
A young boy commits an accidental murder, which causes a stir in the community and forces him to choose between his loyalty to the gang he belongs to OR saving what’s left of his innocence by turning himself into the police.
FIRST DATE, LAST DATE
Directed by: Derege Harding
Written by: E.V. Anderson
Produced by: Derege Harding
Cast: Andrea Bordeaux, Daniel Hall
Soul mates Sara and Michael carry on their first date as the world comes to an end.
Directed by: Solomon Onita Jr.
Written by: Solomon Onita Jr.
Produced by: Elsie Dortelus, Terrence J. Grant, Solomon Onita Jr.
Cast: Sope Aluko, Bayo Akinfemi, Hannah Tarver, Georgina E. Okon, Brooke-Monaé Westbrook
A Nigerian middle-aged woman living in America struggles to convince her traditionalist husband not to circumcise their ten-year-old daughter.
Directed by: Solvan Naim
Written by: Solvan Naim
Produced by: Solvan Naim, Akshay Bhansali
Cast: Malik Lockett, Johnnie Mae, Rob Morgan, Nedra McClyde, Simeon Buresch
Stanhope is a drama about a teenage inner-city kid from Brooklyn who gets caught up in a web of violence as a paid assassin.
ABFF WEB ORIGINALS – GROUP 1
2014 USA 15:35 MIN HD World Premiere
Directed by: Edson Jean, Nick Katz
Written by: Episode-1 Joshua Jean-Baptiste; Episode-2 Mimi Davila, Marckenson Charles,
Maria Corina Ramirez; Episode-3 Joshua Jean-Baptiste, Mimi Davila, Maria Corina Ramirez
Produced by: Edson Jean, Nick Katz, Barry Katz
Cast: Joshua Jean Baptiste, Edson Jean, Shira Abergel, Marckenson Charles
A naive, chaste acting student (Josh) seeks guidance from his immoral problematic roommate in hopes to become a leading man.
ACKEE & SALTFISH
2015 UNITED KINGDOM 16:21 MIN HD
Directed by: Cecile Emeke
Written by: Cecile Emeke
Produced by: Cecile Emeke, Abraham Popoola
Cast: Michelle Tiwo, Vanessa Babirye
Everyday moments are never mundane with these two hilarious best friends in Ackee & Saltfish.
2015 USA 21:37 MIN HD New York Premiere
Directed by: Dave Patten
Written by: Dave Patten, Josh West.
Produced by: Dave Patten, Alexx Ray, Chris Bauer
Executive Producer: David Ricks
Cast: Dave Patten, David Ricks, Alexx Ray, Richard Amezcua
Pragmatic hipster Jay Miller’s successful small business of selling sex to his collegiate peers becomes infinitely more difficult when one of his employees dies while "working."
ALL ABOUT THE MCKENZIES
2014 UNITED KINGDOM 20:51 MIN HD World Premiere
Directed by: Samuell Benta
Written by: Samuell Benta
Produced by: Samuell Benta
Cast: Samuell Benta, Jason Pennycooke, Ria Horsford, Frankie Clarence, Destinee Tombling, Sheldon Nicolls, Fenella James
All about comedy, all about drama, it’s All About The McKenzies.
BLACK ACTRESS SERIES – SEASON TWO
2015 USA 23:34 MIN HD New York Premiere
Directed by: William Alexander Runnels
Written by: Episode 1-Andrea Lewis; Episode 2-Andrea Lewis, Austin Hall;
Episode 3 – Andrea Lewis
Produced by: Andrea Lewis, Brian Walker, Tatyana Ali, Essence Atkins, Brad Kaaya, Carol Desousa
Cast: Andrea Lewis, Allison Edwards-Crewe, Rob Vincent
The life of an actress who wants to be more than just Black.
ABFF WEB ORIGINALS – GROUP II
2014 USA 17:35 MIN HD New York Premiere
Directed by: Emebeit Beyene & Chandra Russell
Written by: Jessica Lamour
Produced by: Jacques Lamour, Emebeit Beyene, Crystal Boyd, Chandra Russell
Cast: Emebeit Beyene, Crystal Boyd, Chivonne Michelle, Chandra Russell
To raise money to launch their own business, four girls turn their Lower East Side apartment into a lucrative nightclub.
2014 USA 24:11 MIN HD World Premiere
Directed by: Randy Wilkins
Written by: Eljon Wardally
Produced by: Jessica Karen Brown, Juan Caceres
Cast: Tara Gadomski, Ashley Denise Robinson
A successful businesswoman and a grieving housewife struggle to overcome loneliness in the face of a shared tragedy.
Q’S ONE NIGHT STANDS
2014 USA 17 MIN HD World Premiere
Directed by: Terrence L. Moore
Written by: Terrence L. Moore
Produced by: Michael Galvan
Executive Producers: Terrence L. Moore, Jenny Cadenillas, Uana Coccoloni
Cast: Kee Seymore, Susana Victoria Perez, Joshua Windley, Kajuana Shuford, Dominic Marcus, Gayle Samuels
A comedy about a guy so fed up with traditional dating he commits to having only one-night stands.
THE INCREDIBLE LIFE OF DARRELL
2015 USA 14:31 MIN HD New York Premiere
Directed by: Darrell Lake
Written by: Darrell Lake
Produced by: Darrell Lake
Cast: Darrell Lake, Tru Collins, Joy Regullano, Larry Karman, Justin Bryant Rapp, Pete George
The spectacularly mundane adventures of an incredible average Joe in small town Wakooki, Arizona.
2015 USA 24 MIN HD New York Premiere
Directed by: Diarra Kilpatrick & Miles Orion Feld
Written by: Diarra Kilpatrick
Produced by: Anna Micayla Feld
Cast: Diarra Kilpatrick, Terrence Colby Clemons, Miles Orion Feld, Elaine Kao, Cedric Sanders
Employees of the "Everyone’s a Little Racist (EAR) Agency" do their best to tackle every race problem that comes through their door, but for lead agent Akosua Miller, the biggest case of all may be her own…
ABFF DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
The following films compete for the Best Documentary award. One winner will be announced during the “Best of the ABFF” awards ceremony, Sunday, June 14.
2014 USA 77 MIN HD
Directed by: Rex Miller
Produced by: Nancy Buirski, Elisabeth Haviland James, Rex Miller
Executive Producers: John Amos, Billie Jean King, William Ackman
Principal Subject(s): Billie Jean King, Nick Bollettieri, David Dinkins, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe
Althea Gibson, a truant from the rough streets of Harlem, emerged as a most unlikely queen of the highly segregated tennis world of the 1950s.
AN AMERICAN ASCENT
2015 USA 64 MIN HD New York Premiere
Directed by: Andy Adkins, George Potter
Written by: Andy Adkins, James Mills
Produced by: George Potter, Andy Adkins
Principal Subject(s): Stephen Shobe, Erica Wynn, Tyrhee Moore, Scott Briscoe, Billy Long, Rosemary Saal, Ryan Mitchell, Stephen DeBerry, Adina Scott, James Kagambi, Robby Rechord, Madhu Chikkaraju, Aaron Devine, Jon Krakauer, Conrad Anker
An American Ascent documents the first African American expedition to tackle North America’s highest mountain, Denali, while shedding light on the complex relationship many African Americans have with the outdoors.
NAT KING COLE – AFRAID OF THE DARK
2014 UNITED KINGDOM 94 MIN HD New York Premiere
Directed by: Jon Brewer
Produced by: Jon Brewer
Principal Subject(s): Maria Cole, Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Mathis and more…
A poignant authorized feature documentary on the life and legacy of Nat King Cole.