*LOS ANGELES, CA – The 24th annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF), which took place August 21 – 30 virtually via the newly launched ABFF PLAY platform, wrapped ten days of festivities with ‘The Best of the ABFF Awards,’ hosted by Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker with a simulcast on IMDb (www.imdb.com).
Presenters included: Lee Daniels (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Laz Alonso (The Boys), Bevy Smith (BEVELATIONS), Logan Browning (Dear White People), Sinqua Walls (American Soul), La La Anthony (Power) and Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods). The ceremony closed with an emotional performance by Grammy Award-winning Gospel and R&B Artist Bebe Winans singing his new single Black Lives Matter. The full awards show and highlight reel of ‘The Best of the ABFF Awards’ is available to watch on abffplay.com and www.imdb.com/festival-central/abff/
The Festival, available online for the first time, drew a global audience from 85 countries around the world. The robust program featured 90 films representing the best in independent Black cinema, virtual networking events, studio screenings, and 30 conversations and panels featuring Stacey Abrams, Kenya Barris, Mary J. Blige, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Barry Jenkins, Yara Shahidi, Tina Knowles-Lawson, Yvonne Orji, Gabrielle Union, Radha Blank, and Lena Waithe among others. Jemele Hill hosted a one-on-one conversation with Blige powered by Cadillac, who was also this year’s festival ambassador.
With a track record for recognizing Black filmmakers on the rise, this year’s competition attracted a record number of films, over half from first-time filmmakers and the most from female directors in the festival’s history. The festival’s international entries included films from more than ten foreign markets including: Belgium, Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Mozambique, Canada and the United Kingdom. It also marked the introduction of the first annual John Singleton Director Award for Best First Feature for a director of African descent.
2020 American Black Film Festival Full Winners List:
- HBO Short Film Competition (presented by HBO, Prize: $10,000 for winner; $5,000 for finalists)
Dolapo Is Fine, directed by Ethosheia Hylton, screenplay by Joan Iyiola, Chibundu Onuzo
- Jury Award – Best Director (presented by Cadillac, Prize: $10,000)
Hisonni Johnson, Take Out Girl
- John Singleton Director Award for Best First Feature (presented by Netflix, Prize: $5,000)
Solomon Onita, Jr, Tazmanian Devil
- Jury Award – Best US Narrative Feature (presented by Prudential, Prize: $2,500)
Curtis, directed and written by Chris Bailey, produced by Kimberly Hwang, Chelsea Davenport and Desi Bee Richardson
- Jury Award – Best Screenplay (presented by BET, Prize: $2,500)
Addison Henderson, G.O.D – Givers of Death
- Jury Award – Best International Narrative Feature (presented by Sony Pictures Entertainment, Prize: $2,500)
The New Normal (Nigeria), directed by Teniola Olatoni, written by Tunde Babalola, produced by Sourmash Stories
- Jury Award – Best Documentary (presented by Amazon Studios, Prize: $2,500)
Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back, directed by John Carluccio, written by Tracy E. Hopkins
- Jury Award – Best Web Series (presented by Xfinity, Prize: $2,500)
Loving in America, directed by Jason Gudasz, written by Bianca Cristovao
- Fan Favorite Movie
Death of A Telemarketer, directed by Khaled Ridgeway, produced by Datari Turner, Meagan Good, James J. Yi
“We are overwhelmed by the support of the community that made this year’s festival possible,” said Jeff Friday, founder and CEO ABFF Ventures. “We were very encouraged to see a record setting number of submissions, the willingness of our corporate partners and Black talent to stand with us during these uncertain times and the response of our audience around the world. While we look forward to returning to Miami for our 25th anniversary next year, we are thrilled to have been able to reach a new audience for ABFF this year.”
Sponsors included WarnerMedia, HBO® (Founding), Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (Presenting Sponsors); Comcast NBCUniversal, Amazon Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Endeavor Content (Premier Sponsors); Cadillac, IMDb, Netflix, Motion Picture Association (MPA), Jeff Friday Media, Prudential Financial, Starz, a Lionsgate company, UMC, Verizon Media (Official Sponsors); AspireTV, BET, Facebook, Moet Hennessy, Morgan Stanley, New York University, PEACOCK, and Universal Production Music (Supporting Sponsors); Blackfilm.com, Black Information Network, Film Independent, and Variety (Marketing Partners).
For more information on ABFF and up-to-date news, go to abff.com and follow @ABFF on Twitter and @AmericanBlackFilmFestival on Instagram and Facebook. Join in on the conversation by using #ABFF20 and #ABFF.
The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is an annual event dedicated to recognizing black talent and showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent. Dedicated to the belief that diverse artists deserve the same opportunities as their mainstream counterparts, ABFF founder Jeff Friday conceived the festival in 1997 as a vehicle to strengthen the black entertainment community by fostering resource sharing, education and artistic collaboration.
After 24 years, the festival has become a cornerstone of diversity in Hollywood, providing a platform for emerging black artists – many of who have become today’s most successful actors, producers, writers, directors and stand-up comedians, including Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Will Packer (Girls Trip), Issa Rae (Insecure), Kevin Hart (Night School), Omari Hardwick (Power) and Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II). The ABFF is the preeminent pipeline for black artists in front of and behind the camera, and has significantly expanded the range of talent working in the entertainment Industry.
As “the nation’s largest community of black film and television enthusiasts” the ABFF attracts a broad audience of celebrity talent, emerging artists, upscale consumers and industry stakeholders. Approximately 7,000 to 10,000 people travel to Miami Beach each year for the five-day event. The festival opens with the premiere of an upcoming Hollywood release followed by a full schedule of intriguing independent film screenings, master classes, panels, celebrity talks, live entertainment, and a variety of networking and hospitality events.
ABOUT ABFF VENTURES:
ABFF Ventures LLC (ABFFV) is a multifaceted entertainment company specializing in the production of live events and branded content. Its mission is to entertain and inspire communities of color while promoting diversity in Hollywood. Headquartered in Los Angeles, ABFFV was formed to stimulate business growth through expansion into other events and services. Its tent-pole properties are the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), cited by MovieMaker magazine as “One of the Coolest Festivals in the World;” and “ABFF Honors,” an annual awards gala saluting the top stars of film and television. In creating ABFF Ventures, CEO Jeff Friday channeled his passion for film and television, as well as his discomfort with the underrepresentation of people of color in Hollywood, into an organization with the ultimate goal of advocating for diversity within the entertainment industry. Through his vision and perseverance, ABFF Ventures has become a highly respected enterprise, generating goodwill throughout the Hollywood and corporate communities.