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African American Film Critics Association Celebrates Ryan Coogler, Jason Blum, More

The annual AAFCA Awards, presented by the African American Film Critics Association, celebrated its 10th anniversary on Wednesday night.

AAFCA co-founders Gil Robertson (right) and Shawn Edwards (left) flank winners Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay at the 10th Annual AAFCA Awards

AAFCA co-founders Gil Robertson (left) and Shawn Edwards (right) flank winners Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay at the 10th Annual AAFCA Awards

©2019 Sheri Determan

On Wednesday night, the AAFCA Awards, presented by the African American Film Critics Association, celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood, where trophies were handed out to winners and special honorees.

Opening the festivities was Ava DuVernay presenting the AAFCA Best Director award to Ryan Coogler.

“It really, truly is an honor,” said Coogler, tipping his hat to fellow winner Barry Jenkins, whose “If Beale Street Could Talk” picked up the Best Independent Film trophy. “A big thanks to Barry and all the filmmakers who are out there challenging audiences and challenging filmmakers.”

Hosted by actress Tichina Arnold, the event’s highlight was music icon Quincy Jones receiving the inaugural AAFCA Stanley Kramer Award, which was presented to him by Karen Kramer, wife of the late director-producer.

Jason Blum and Quincy Jones at the 10th Annual AAFCA Awards

Jason Blum and Quincy Jones at the 10th Annual AAFCA Awards

©2019 Sheri Determan

“We’ve come a hell of a long way from the time when I was the young film composer in town, when you didn’t see faces of color in the studio commissaries,” Jones, who received an extended standing ovation, said during his acceptance speech. “Today we have wonderful young talent both in front and behind the cameras. Young men and women who have contributed to our industry in every way, from the creative side to making decisions in the front office. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long, long way to go.”

Also noteworthy, prolific producer Jason Blum (“BlacKkKlansman,” “Get Out”) received the Cinema Vanguard award. “The idea that African-American movies don’t travel is total garbage,” Blum said while on the podium to a very appreciative audience. And speaking on the very topical subject of diversity in the industry, he said: “I would like to make something clear: We do not hire diverse directors to win awards. We don’t hire women because it’s the right thing to do. We hire diversity because we hire the best. We hire diversity because it’s been great for our business. We’ve had too many years of movies and TV shows populated by people who look like me. It’s time that artists in front of and behind the camera to look like the world looks.”

Other key wins for the evening included Regina Hall (Best Actress winner for “Support the Girls”), Amandla Stenberg (Best Breakthrough Performance for “The Hate U Give”), John David Washington (Best Actor for “BlacKkKlansman”), Rashida Jones and Alan Hicks (Best Documentary for “Quincy”), and OWN TV series “Queen Sugar” (Best Drama Series).

Jessie T. Usher and Regina Hall at the 10th Annual AAFCA Awards

Jessie T. Usher and Regina Hall at the 10th Annual AAFCA Awards

©2019 Sheri Determan

Previously announced, at the organization’s fifth annual AAFCA Special Achievement Awards luncheon at the California Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey, “Black Panther” costume designer Ruth Carter was given the Nissan Innovator Award; “Crazy Rich Asians,” the Game Changer Award; HBO’s Senior Vice President of Talent Development, Kelly Edwards, the Salute to Excellence Award; Alana Mayo, Head of Production at Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society, the Horizon Award, which spotlights and celebrates a young executive on the rise; New York Times’ Wesley Morris, the Roger Ebert Award; and Tendo Nagenda, Vice President of Original Film at Netflix, the Ashley Boone Award, which is named after trailblazing studio executive Ashley A. Boone, and is presented to an executive who has distinguished himself within the industry with excellence.

Overseen by AAFCA co-founders Gil Robertson and Shawn Edwards, presenters and guests at the 10th annual AAFCA Awards included Lakeith Stanfield, Franklin Leonard, Trevante Rhodes, Storm Reid, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Colman Domingo, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Toni Trucks, the cast of OWN’s “Queen Sugar,” and many more.

Established in 2003, the AAFCA is a body of black film critics from around the world, who place an emphasis on film and TV entertainment that includes the black experience, and storytellers from Africa and its diaspora. For more information on AAFCA and its programs visit http://AAFCA.com.

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