Sunday, June 16, 2024

EUR EXCLUSIVE: ABFF’s Opening Night Announcement

Plus new titles announced for spotlight screenings, series & voices of culture

ABFF's Opening Night Announcement will include: CHOCOLATE WITH SPRINKLES (2024) ABFF

*Today, the 2024 American Black Film Festival/ABFF‘s Opening Night Announcement exclaims it will open its 28th annual Miami festival with the prestigious HBO Short Film Award Showcase and the lineup of this year’s Series, Voices of Culture, and Spotlight Screenings.

In past years, the HBO Short Film Award Showcase has launched the careers of some of the most successful filmmakers such as Ryan Coogler, Reinaldo Marcus Green, Rashaad Ernesto Green, Frankie Flowers, Steven Caple, Jr., and more.

“We are thrilled to partner with our founding sponsor, HBO, and kick off this year’s festival with the iconic HBO Short Film Award Showcase,” ​​said NICE CROWD President Nicole Friday. “This year’s HBO Short Film Award Showcase, Spotlight Screenings, Series, and Voices of Culture lineups present even more talented Black creatives, and we are delighted to share such diversity in our programs for all audiences to enjoy.”

Sirius XM’s Bevy Smith, host of “Bevelations,” will emcee this year’s HBO Short Film Award Showcase which will display works of incredible Black women directors including Chocolate with Sprinkles, a sweet family fantasy/drama, starring Reno Wilson, directed and written by Huriyyah Muhammad; Muna, United Kingdom story of British-Somali teenager explorations of grief and culture directed and written by Warda Mohamed; Once Upon a Dime, the profound perspective of the unhoused community, directed and written by Lauren Julia; The Brown Dog, an animated short narrated by the late Michael K. Williams and directed by Nadia Hallgren and Jamie-James Medina; and The Rebel Girls, 1960s civil rights story directed and written by Felicia D Henderson and executive produced by Mara Brock Akil.

“It’s an honor to return to ABFF and open the festival with the HBO Short Film Award Showcase,” said Dennis Williams, Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, at Warner Bros. Discovery. “Now in its 27th year, the HBO Short Film Award Showcase is a defining example of our commitment to ABFF and to launching the careers of emerging Black filmmakers.”

MUNA (2024) ABFF
MUNA (2024) ABFF

In addition, the 2024 Spotlight Screenings is comprised of various projects from networks and streamers including the previously announced Devil in a Blue Dress starring Denzel Washington courtesy of Sony Picture Entertainment; the premiere of Down In the Valley, a documentary series inspired by the vibrant world of “P-Valley” courtesy of STARZ; the world premiere of Ol’ Dirty Bastard: A Tale of Two Dirtys, a documentary on Wu-Tang Clan founding member Ol’ Dirty Bastard courtesy of A&E; the world premiere of the second season of UnPrisoned starring Kerry Washington and Delroy Lindo courtesy of Hulu and more.

The Series finalists include the world premieres of Groupies, written, produced, and co-led by Daphnique Springs, an ABFF Alumni and previous winner of the festival’s comedy competition; On Second Thought, a thrilling suspense series with cast including Andrea Lewis of Hulu’s Three Ways, a previous festival official selection; Mo Brown’s Bodega, NYC bonafide sitcom written, directed, and starring Mo Brown; and Unsolicited, a spontaneous witty comedy starring and penned by Barshae Lowery.

Additionally, the Voices of Culture, a non-competitive and invite-only category, does not disappoint with a robust lineup of international works from across the USA, Ghana, United Kingdom, and France. The lineup includes The Origin starring Morris Chestnut and directed and written by Jorge Sanchez; Lucille starring Loretta Devine & Frankie Faison and directed and written by Warren S. L. Burke; the world premiere of 32 starring rising talent Shakira Ja’nai Paye; and the world premieres of Vigilante and X: The Interview short films that amplify Black men representation in the superhero realm; and more.

Winners of the 2024 independent film awards and talent contest will be announced during the “Best of the ABFF Awards” hosted by three-time Emmy award nominee Dondré Whitfield, on Saturday, June 15, in the New World Center.

The impact of the ABFF brand extends far beyond the annual gathering in Miami Beach. ABFF proudly serves as a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards® Short Film Awards. Through its various initiatives, partnerships, and platforms, the festival is a vital hub for showcasing the extraordinary talent of Black creatives around the world and throughout the year. For the third year in a row, the American Black Film Festival and American Airlines have partnered to bring more diverse content to their inflight entertainment system on a dedicated ABFF channel. A curated collection of short films from the annual festival are available to watch year-round on the ABFF channel on all American Airlines flights, reaching over 200 million travelers annually.

The 2024 festival will take place June 12 – 16 in Miami Beach, followed by an online segment June 17 – 24 on ABFF PLAY,

The HBO Short Film Award finalists, Spotlight Screenings, Series, and Voices of Culture full lineup is listed below.

HBO Short Film Award Showcase

Now in its 27th year, the HBO Short Film Award, sponsored by HBO and Warner Bros. Discovery, is regarded as one of the most prestigious short film showcases in the world. Five filmmakers are selected as finalists, one grand prize winner will be presented with the HBO Short Film Award and a cash prize of $10,000. The following films represent the finalists for the 2024 HBO Short Film Award.

Chocolate with Sprinkles *World Premiere
On their 25th wedding anniversary, a bickering married couple is given one day to do something they haven’t done in 25 years – work on their marriage.
USA | 19 min
Director: Huriyyah Muhammad
Writer: Huriyyah Muhammad
Producer: Okema T. Moore, Yha Mourhia Wright, Cole Sanchez
Cast: Reno Wilson, Keisha Thompson, Camron Jones, Lillian Gilbert

A film about teenage dreams, dislocated grief and unexpected connection, following a British-Somali teen navigating a confusing mourning period for a family member she never met.
United Kingdom | 19 min
Director: Warda Mohamed
Writer: Warda Mohamed
Producer: Angela Moneke, Simon Hatton
Cast: Kosar Ali, Raha Isse Farah, Elmi Rashid Elmi, Ahmed Nur

Once Upon A Dime *World Premiere
Nkosi plans and executes the perfect first date, but as the sun sets, we realize that things with Nkosi aren’t quite what they seem.
USA | 12 min
Director: Lauren Julia
Writer: Lauren Julia
Producer: Lauren Julia
Cast: Quincy Chad, Anjali Khetan

The Brown Dog * World Premiere
Night after night, a watchman clocks into his lonely booth and spends hours composing endless security logs to stay awake, as he slowly descends into darkness.
USA | 14 min
Director: Nadia Hallgren, Jamie-James Medina
Writer: Willis Earl Beal
Producer: Nadia Hallgren, Jamie-James Medina, Michael Stirton
Cast: Michael K. Williams, Steve Buscemi

The Rebel Girls
“The Rebel Girls” is the true story of the 1960s fight for Civil Rights through the eyes of the girls who reinvigorated the struggling movement through the power of magical thinking, friendship, faith, and fortitude.
USA | 22 min
Director: Felicia D Henderson
Writer: Felicia D Henderson
Producer: Felicia D Henderson, Katrina Kudlick
Cast: Nika King, Kyanna Simone, Nia Sondaya, Honey Robinson, Asia Holiday, Josephine Lawrence, Avynn Crowder-Jones, Maxcianna Saintilus


Spotlight Screenings

The Full Spotlight-Screenings Lineup:

Affion Crockett Presents Microphone Masters: Comedy, Community, and Collaboration
“Affion Crockett Presents Microphone Masters: Comedy, Community, and Collaboration” moderated by Talitha Watkins, President & Head of ColorCreative, with panelists Affion Crockett, Actor, Comedian, and Producer; Delmar Washington, Director and Producer; and Keesha Boyd, VP, Entertainment Products, Comcast and Executive Producer for the Black Experience on Xfinity. Enjoy a full episode screening and discussion centering on the creative process and collaborative work in bringing this 3-part stand-up comedy docuseries to life. Gain exclusive insights into the team’s process and goals to uplift emerging comedic talent and the partnership with Black Experience on Xfinity to further the mission of growing opportunities for Black storytellers and filmmakers.
Run time: 56 minutes
Creator & Producer: Affion Crockett
Courtesy of: Comcast NBCUniversal Black Experience on Xfinity

Devil in a Blue Dress
It’s 1948 and Los Angeles is booming, but Easy Rawlins (Denzel Washington) has seen better days. He’s just been fired and he’s got house payments to make, so when Easy is offered a job locating the mysterious Daphne Monet (Jennifer Beals), he doesn’t waste much time saying yes. Now he finds himself drawn into a web of murder, blackmail, brutal cops, and corrupt city politics. Devil In A Blue Dress also stars Tom Sizemore as DeWitt Albright, who hustles Easy into this dangerous game, and Don Cheadle as Mouse, Easy’s extremely volatile friend. Reminiscent of film noir, this stylish production is based on the book by Walter Mosley. Directed by Carl Franklin with a screenplay by Franklin.
Run time: 101 min
Courtesy of: Sony Pictures Entertainment

Down In the Valley *Premiere
Down in the Valley,” a documentary series inspired by the vibrant world of “P-Valley,” set to air in 2024. The six-half-hour episode series hosted, and executive produced by Nicco Annan (“P-Valley”) will take viewers on a tantalizing tour of the Deep South, unveiling a complex South that is equal parts poignant, joyful, and magical.
Run time: 25 min
Host: Nicco Annan
Courtesy of: STARZ

Be the first to see the heart-pounding season two premiere of NBC’s hit crime drama series “Found.” Following will be an intimate conversation with co-showrunner/executive producer Sonay Hoffman and stars Arlen Escarpeta (“Zeke”) and Gabrielle Walsh (“Lacey”). PR specialist Gabi Mosley (Shanola Hampton) and her team are dedicated to finding missing people. But Gabi has a chilling secret – she’s locked up her childhood kidnapper Sir (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) in the basement to help her crack every case. Now Sir has escaped and is on the loose. And her biggest secret is now her biggest threat.
Run time: 43 minutes
Cast: Shanola Hampton, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Kelli Williams, Brett Dalton, Gabrielle Walsh, Arlen Escarpeta and Karan Oberoi
Creator: Nkechi Okoro Carroll
Showrunners: Nkechi Okoro Carroll and Sonay Hoffman
Courtesy of: Comcast NBCUniversal and NBC

Ol’ Dirty Bastard: A Tale of Two Dirtys *World Premiere
The definitive documentary on Wu-Tang Clan founding member Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The film explores how Russell Tyrone Jones created Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a Hip Hop alter-ego superhero that would ultimately consume him. Featuring interviews with Mariah Carey, Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon and Ghost Requested
Run time: 86 minutes
Courtesy of: A&E

UnPrisoned *World Premiere
Join the world premiere screening of the second season of Hulu’s heartfelt dramedy “UnPrisoned,” starring Kerry Washington and Delroy Lindo, followed by a fireside chat with executive producers Kerry Washington and Tracy McMillan. In season two, the Alexander family is still a mess. Paige’s therapy practice is in trouble, Finn’s anxiety is through the roof, Edwin is still figuring out how to get his life together outside of prison, and their relationships are more complicated than ever. The family needs help, and it’s time to call in a professional – OTHER than Paige. The Alexanders turn to a “family radical healing coach,” who throws out all the rules to free them of the issues, old wounds, and family secrets holding them back.
Run time: 26:42
Cast: Kerry Washington (EP/Star) and Tracy McMillan (Creator/EP)
Courtesy of: Onyx Collective, ABC Signature, and Hulu

A competitive section for short-form episodic television directed by and/or both written and produced by persons of African descent. Each series in this section will compete for the Jury Award for Best Series (presented by Comcast NBCUniversal | Black Experience on Xfinity, $2500 cash prize). The following are the 2024 official selections in the Series category:

Groupies *World Premiere
Four determined, marginally educated groupies on a mission to change their destiny by bagging a baller… or at least his Bentley ?!
USA | 32 min
Director: Corey Grant
Writer: Daphnique Springs
Producer: Daphnique Springs, Phaedra Harris
Cast: Daphnique Springs, Ciera Angelia. Natasha Chandel, Christian Torres Villalobos

Mo Brown’s Bodega *World Premiere
Explore the bizarre world of a local NYC bodega owner as she attempts to rid
herself of the family business against her father’s wishes, all in hopes to
achieve her wildest dreams.
USA | 8 min
Director: Mo Brown
Writer: Mo Brown, Xavier Francis, Tiffany Jordan
Producer: Mo Brown, Xavier Francis, Patrice Waite
Cast: Mo Brown, Vesta Walker

On Second Thought *World Premiere
Autumn, a married woman, finds herself entangled in a secret affair that results in her
lover mysteriously turning up dead.
USA | 20 min
Director: Eric J. Dickens
Writer: Eric J. Dickens
Producer: Eric J. Dickens, Dawn Halfkenny
Cast: Dawn Halfkenny, Lawrence Robinson, Andrea Lewis, Robert Gordon

Unsolicited *World Premiere
An opinionated misfit exposes the personal lives of his sister and new neighbors in a weekly column.
USA | 29 min
Director: Chazitear Martin
Writer: Barshea Lowery
Producer: Barshea Lowery, Aysia Moorer, Chazitear Martin
Cast: Barshea Lowery, Seth Dousman, Aysia Moore, Shayla Love, Terrill Patterson, Todd Anthony Manaigo, Schwanda Winston, Caroline Avery Granger, Mac Wells, Brandon Dunn


Voices Of Culture

This section celebrates diverse voices and perspectives within the filmmaking community. The following films represent the 2024 official selection in this category:

1 Up *USA Premiere
Andrew searches for guidance and connection through his late father’s record collection.
United Kingdom |16 min
Director: Greg Francis
Writer: Greg Francis
Producer: Tobi Kyeremateng
Cast: Lamar Waves, Mina Andala, Sean Earl McPherson

32 *World Premiere
A woman realizes she’s the same age with the same ailment that her father had when he passed away and she finds herself trying to balance the ebb and flow of this bittersweet feeling and phase of her life.
USA | 15 min
Director: Stewart Yost
Writer: Shakira Ja’nai Paye
Producer: Shakira Ja’nai Paye & Stewart Yost
Cast: Shakira Ja’nai Paye, Gail Bean

Alliés *USA Premiere
Back from a trip to Africa, Amaury wants to tell his
friends that he wants to change his identity.
France | 15 min
Director: Salif Cissé
Writer: Salif Cissé
Producer: Walid Bekhti
Cast: Guillaume Morel, Agathe Mazouin, Alexandre Auvergne,
Clémence Coullon, Myriam Fitcher, Mikaël-Don Giancarli

Baby Something *World Premiere
A Ghanaian-American woman and a Ghanaian-Indian man embark on their journey of parenthood, but the universal politics of race quickly becomes a piercing obstacle for her to overcome.
Ghana | 18 min
Director: Nicole F. Amarteifio
Writer: Nicole F. Amarteifio
Producer: Nicole F. Amarteifio, Ramesh Jai Gulabrai
Cast: Nicole F. Amarteifio, Ramesh Jai Gulabrai, Niyara Afua Gulabrai

Behold A Lady *World Premiere
When a studious tomboy’s boyfriend dumps her on the eve of her Latin Quiz Bowl tryouts, she struggles to balance her heartbreak and studies as she transforms her appearance to win him back.
Ghana | 16 min
Director: Britt Williams
Writer: Britt Williams
Producer: Austin Chen, Chris Crema
Cast: Alana Kay Bright, AMARR, Naquia Brown, Jon Gentry, Taharka Welcome, Olivia Celine

Definitely Not A Monster
After a beloved icon dies after being accused of rape, his devoted widow invites a journalist into their home to clear his name.
USA | 19 min
Director: Brea Cola Angelo
Writer: Brea Cola Angelo
Producer: Jaqueline Fabricius, Koury Angelo, Audra Todd, Stephen Enloe
Cast: April Grace, Brea Cola Angelo

Haven *World Premiere
A man questions his notion of a safe place, and then confronts disturbing beings that appear in his home.
USA | 10 min
Director: Corey Emanuel Jr.
Writer: Corey Emanuel Jr.
Producer: Lili Dessalegn Tegegn, Corey Emanuel Jr., Shellita Boxie
Cast: Andre De’Sean Shanks, Kingston Zelaya, Dominique McClellan,
Shelitta Boxie

How To Sue The Klan
The Legacy of the Chattanooga Five.
USA | 35 min
Director: John Beder
Producer: John Beder, Benjamin Crump, Cameron S. Mitchell, Raji Ramanathan
Cast: Ben Crump, Randolph McLaughlin, Juanita Toney, Nate Crumsey, Sonya Rollins, Connie Rollins, Betty Lawrence Lewis, Roberta Kaplan

A man’s overly talkative wife disrupts her elderly husband’s day of peace.
USA | 13 min
Director: Warren S. L. Burke
Writer: Warren S. L. Burke
Producer: Warren S. L. Burke, Rebecca Herrick
Cast: Loretta Devine & Frankie Faison

My Brother & Me *World Premiere
A coming-of-age story about two brothers who attempt to rob their distant father of their overdue child support.
USA | 17 min
Director: Ryan DeForeest
Writer: Ryan DeForeest
Producer: Ryan DeForeest, Lexx Truss, Shandrea Evans
Cast: Alexander Bello, Zechariah Eubanks, Rodney Hobbs, Katie Kelley, Micah Kobayashi, Riley Nelson, Thaddeus Newman

Ninth Life *World Premiere
A predominantly non-verbal drama series exploring the interconnections of a group of young BIPOC creatives in London.
United Kingdom | 14 min
Director: JOMO (Tajana Tokyo & Sannchia Gaston)
Writer: JOMO (Tajana Tokyo & Sannchia Gaston)
Producer: Alli Maxwell, Scarlett Anderson, Somesuch, Miriam
Cast: Michelle Zan, Gabriel Goux, Yos Clark, Kikz Katika, Lisa Sainvil, Fatou Bah, Benjamin Williams, Robia Milliner, Tajorn Brown, Belen Leroux, Aahkilah Cornelius, Sweetny Ojule, Webster Opiyo, Keith Alexander, Tyrik Patterson, Genesis Lynea & Remi Black

Promise *World Premiere
Promise, a single mother facing deportation, and John, an
ex-con with a business idea, find their marriage of convenience becoming something
USA | 21 min
Director: D. Wilmos Paul
Writer: D. Wilmos Paul
Producer: Anuradha Srikanth, Ned Johnson, and D. Wilmos Paul
Cast: Artrece Johnson and Donnevan Tolbert

The Origin
Tep, one of the only legitimate heirs of an ancient extraterrestrial power, finds himself forced to join forces with a wise sage and his tribal brother to fight off alien mercenaries sent to eliminate them.
USA | 26 min
Director: Jorge Sanchez
Writer: Jorge Sanchez
Producer: Jtasha St. Cyr, Morris Chestnut, Jorge Sanchez
Cast: Morris Chestnut, Alimi Ballard, J.Chris Rouse, Lanre Idewu, Kearia Schroeder, Page Kennedy, Jayce Kennedy

Vigilante *World Premiere
In a world where superheroes overlook the vulnerable, four friends with powers step up to protect their neglected neighborhood.
USA | 24 min
Director: Wesley Armstrong
Writer: Phil Dover II
Producer: Jamee Ranta, Diamond Batiste, Alain Fleury
Cast: Khleo Thomas, Maestro Harrell, Jaden Martin, Timothy Kennedy, Benjamin Abiola

X: The Interview *World Premiere
A canceled superhero facing eviction turns to his side hustle for survival. As he embarks on his journey, he discovers dark powers are conspiring against him…
USA | 19 min
Director: RJ Barnes, Anthony Rose
Writer: RJ Barnes
Producer: RJ Barnes, Anthony Rose, Anthony Baldino
Cast: Brandon Broady, Stephanie Elyse, Jerah Milligan, Jacqueline Legrande, Christopher Hancock, Patrice Lakey, Kate McIntyre, Arayawna Moore, Leah “L” Knauer, Jeremy “Gumbo” Christian

For festival information, including media credentials and how to obtain an ABFF pass, visit Follow @ABFF on Twitter and @AmericanBlackFilmFestival on Instagram and Facebook.

Since its inception, the highly anticipated American Black Film Festival has premiered the work and supported the careers of many of today’s most successful filmmakers, actors, writers and stand-up comedians and is recognized as a standard-bearer of excellence for Black creativity. Continuing its legacy to empower Black artists and showcase a wide range of entertainment content will feature studio premieres, independent films, master classes, panels, talent showcases, networking, and hospitality events.

ABFF sponsors and partners to date are Warner Bros. Discovery and HBO® (Founding), Cadillac, Comcast NBCUniversal, Walmart, Ally (Presenting), City of Miami Beach, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), Sony Pictures Entertainment, TV One Networks, American Airlines, IMDbPro (Official), Amazon MGM Studios, Miami Beach Visitors and Convention Authority (MBVCA), Motion Picture Association (MPA), New World Symphony, STARZ, Fulton Films, (Supporting), A&E Network, Getty Images, NYFA, GLAAD, William Morris Endeavor (WME), Digital Media Systems (Industry), Variety, LA Times (Media).

NICE CROWD, formerly ABFF Ventures, is a Los Angeles-based live events company that develops and produces properties in the arts, entertainment, lifestyle and wellness industries that showcase BIPOC culture and talent. The Company’s tentpole event is the American Black Film Festival, founded in 1997. To learn more about NICE CROWD events, visit

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