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The 19th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) Kicks Off in NYC Today

The 19th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) Kicks Off in NYC Today

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

DOPE

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.


NARRATIVE FEATURES

fRENCH DIRTy

2015/USA/72min/HD/NY Premiere

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

2015/USA/84min/HD/World Premiere

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,

Khalil Kane

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.

KNUCKLEHEAD

2015/USA/81min/HD

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.

LAST NIGHT

2014/USA/93min/HD/NY Premiere

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

2015/USA/95min/HD/World Premiere

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

2015/USA/94min/35mm/NY Premiere

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

2015/USA/86min/HD/World Premiere

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

2015/USA/119min/HD/World Premiere

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

2015/USA/95min/HD/World Premiere

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

BLACK CARD

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….

CHAINING DAY

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

2015/USA/7min/HD/World Premiere

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.

JOY

2015/USA/15min/HD/World Premiere

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.

STANHOPE

2015/USA/18min/HD/World Premiere

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

#JOSH

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.

ESCORTS

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

DOWNTOWN GIRLS

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

DOCKET 32357

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.

AMERICAN KOKO

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.

ALTHEA

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.

 

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