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American Black Film Festival (ABFF) 2011 Day 1 In Brief + Photos

American Black Film Festival (ABFF) 2011 Day 1 In Brief + Photos

It’s been raining since I got here, and it’s still raining. I haven’t seen the sun, thanks to the dark clouds that have been hiding them. So much for South Beach Miami sun, beaches and fun!

But other than that, I’m cool :)

Attended opening night festivities yesterday, which kicked off with red carpet coverage for the opening night film, In The Hive, produced and directed by Robert Townsend, and starring Michael Clarke Duncan, Loretta Devine, Vivica A Fox and newcomer Jonathan “Lil J” McDaniel, the star of the film, which is based on the true story of a woman who started an alternative school for troubled youth in North Carolina.

I didn’t care much for the film, though I applaud the effort and intent. I wouldn’t look for it at a theater near you anytime soon, if at all; a DVD/VOD release it more likely. Although self-distribution via service deals with the likes of AMC Independent is certainly possible.

Some of the cast of In The Hive, were present, and I was able to grab a few shots which I’ve included in this post.

ABFF co-founder Jeff Friday gave his annual welcome speech, reflecting on the festival’s 15th year (time flies!); representatives from the festival’s premiere sponsors also spoke about their contributions to the festivities, including the festival’s newest premiere sponsor, NFL pro Terrell Suggs and his Team Sizzle Films production company, who, as I discovered, is intent on making an impact on what we broadly define as “black cinema.” He’s putting his money where his mouth is, financing shorts and feature films, which we’ll continue to talk about in coming months, including a feature film titled The Coalition (featured just below this post) which Monica Mingo (whom we’ve written about before on S&A) wrote and directed.

After the opening night screening, I had the pleasure of running into a few familiar folks, some we’ve written about on S&A; like the aforementioned Monica Mingo, as well as Cynthia Stafford, whom I met for the very first time. Recall she’s the lady who won several million dollars in her states lottery, and used part of her winnings to create a film production company called Queen Nefertari Productions‏. We’ve written about her and her company quite a bit, mostly on the old S&A site, but we will be writing about her again on the new site, as she and Lanre Idewu, an actor and executive for the company, told me, they have some projects in the works. I requested an interview with them, since we’ve never actually done one, and really should have by now. So, look out for that eventually.

And that about sums up day 1. Like I said, in brief. Enjoy the few pics, and pray that we get some sunshine down here tomorrow.

For day 2, which is today, I got to chat with John Singleton and Keenen Ivory Wayans; tomorrow’s update will contain my write-ups of both interviews.

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I saw the film and loved it! It is a story that needs to be told. One of faith, hope, courage, change, community, unselfishness and overcoming. I work with boys like that everyday and know that most Americans may know headlines but they don’t know the story behind the headlines. See the movie and learn.

blah blah

I’m here now, having a ball. The opening night film was pretty bad and unfortunately I couldn’t facially expressed my disgust because I was sitting so close to Robert Townsend that I didn’t want to offend.

James Madison

Thanks, Nemesis!


… And by “content” I meant substance.


@James: From what I hear, it’s mostly celebrity driven.

@Tambay: Please don’t succumb to that drive by giving us photos and no film critique. So you didn’t like the opening film, but are you actually going to do a review of it or are we to just contend with cast and celebrity photos and a run-down of how your day went? I hope not, as I expect much more content over style from indiewire and Shadow And Act.


Sound good Tambay, I like to go next year. It been a long time since I been there.

James Madison

I really wanted to check this out this year. Hoping for next year.

Out of curiosity –

Is the ABFF a good outlet for the independent filmmaker, with a film showcasing unknown talent? Or does the platform more embracing of celebrity drive movies?

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