Both emerging and seasoned actors recently joined with filmmakers and producers from the big and small screens for the 21st Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in Miami.
In addition to master classes, panel discussions and a career center, several television and cable networks premiered the new season of their popular shows, as well as introduced their new lineup of shows for the summer, including OWN’s “Queen Sugar,” TNT’s “Claws” and HBO’s “Insecure.”
This year’s ABFF opened with the premiere of the Will Packer-produced, Malcolm Lee-directed comedy, “Girls Trip,” which stars Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Regina Hall. L.T. Hutton’s Tupac biopic, “All Eyez on Me,” was this year’s closing night film. Each screening featured a Q&A with the cast.
ABFF also featured narrative feature and short film competitions. The narratives, shorts and documentaries showcased a diverse roster of content creators who explored a broad range of topics, including love, sex, education, race, self-identity, struggle, politics, relationships, crime and reflection.
“There’s never been a more exciting landscape for content creators,” said ABFF Founder Jeff Friday. “The opportunities for filmmakers of color have grown considerably and this year’s festival lineup reflects the breadth and scope of diverse storytellers that exist.”
Among the television shows that were screened during this year’s ABFF festival include BET’s “Tales,” a scripted anthology series produced by Murder Inc. founder Irv “Gotti” Lorenzo; “Snowfall,” a new show on FX from director John Singleton about the early days of the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles and A&E’s “Biggie: The Life of the Notorious B.I.G” documentary.
TV One also premiered two yet-to-air movies – “When Loves Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story,” which stars Lil Mama and Lance Gross, and “Downsized,” staring Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe.
This year’s ABFF featured several fresh and interactive panel discussions from actors, directors and producers of today. Some of the stars of television’s most successful shows were featured on the “New Faces of TV” panel, including Dawn Lyen-Gardner (Queen Sugar), Merle Dandridge (Greenleaf), DeWanda Wise (She’s Gotta Have It), and Jessie T. Usher (Survivor’s Remorse).
Television producer Mona Scott-Young (Executive Producer, Love & Hip Hop) held a panel discussion where she shared her secrets to success. Actor Terrence Howard was featured in a panel session in which the audience received insight into his journey as an actor and the entertainment business.
Director John Singleton joined TV One host Roland Martin for a candid and entertaining Q&A session about the filmmaker’s latest project “Snowfall,” as well as a discussion about some of Singleton’s best films.
There was also a session devoted to a discussion on how people can become a part of the next generation of STEAM professionals in the tech industry. That panel featured insight from singer/producer Ne-Yo, who is also a tech investor.
Each year, ABFF holds several corporate-sponsored awards competitions, where winners are announced at an awards ceremony. This year’s winners include Amelia’s Closet, which won HBO’s Short Film competition. The 2017 Best Narrative Feature winner was Devin E. Haqq for his film “Ambition’s Debt. Tim Folsome won TVOne’s Screenplay competition.
For more information about ABFF, visit www.abff.com.
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