The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) 2018 Film Lineup

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The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) 2018 Film Lineup
Posted by Wilson Morales

May 21, 2018

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) announced their 2018 lineup of narrative features and short films in competition and documentaries that will showcase at the Olympia Theater, Colony Theatre, MB Cinematheque and Regal Cinemas in Miami Beach, Florida, June 13-17.

With an overwhelming number of submissions this year, the ABFF is excited to provide a platform for more than 50 films to screen their artistic works to 10,000 festivalgoers.

Actor Jay Ellis will serve as the 2018 ABFF Celebrity Ambassador. Ellis currently stars as ‘Lawrence’ on HBO’s critically-acclaimed comedy series, ”Insecure,” which follows a young African-American woman as she navigates familiar insecure situations in Los Angeles, while Lawrence, her ex-boyfriend, faces his own expectations for himself and his professional and personal success and happiness.

This year’s ABFF selection of narratives, shorts and documentaries showcase diverse content creators, exploring a broad range of topics including love, sex, education, race, self-identity, struggle, politics, relationships, crime and reflection.

The 2018 American Black Film Festival will open with the premiere screening of “Superfly” on June 13 at the Fillmore Theater in Miami Beach, Fla.

The film is directed by Director X in his feature film debut from Alex Tse’s script. It stars Trevor Jackson stars as Youngblood Priest, with Jason Mitchell playing Eddie, Lex Scott Davis as Georgia, Michael K. Williams as Scatter, Andrea Londo as Cynthia, Allen Maldonado as Litty, Jacob Ming-Trent as Fat Freddy and Omar Chapparo as Adalberto.

The film is inspired by the 1972 classic, which starred Ron O’Nealas Priest, a cocaine dealer looking to score one more super deal and retire.

The First Purge will do their worldwide screening of their film on Thursday, June 14th at 8pm at the Regal.

Directed by Gerard McMurray (Burning Sands) and starring Y’lan Noel (“Insecure”) and Lex Scott Davis, Mo McRae, Joivan Wade, Luna Lauren Velez, Steve Harris, Patch Darragh and Mugga.

Behind every tradition lies a revolution. Next Independence Day, witness the rise of our country’s 12 hours of annual lawlessness. Welcome to the movement that began as a simple experiment: The First Purge. To push the crime rate below one percent for the rest of the year, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) test a sociological theory that vents aggression for one night in one isolated community. But when the violence of oppressors meets the rage of the marginalized, the contagion will explode from the trial-city borders and spread across the nation.

ABFF will have a screening for Whitney, Academy Award-winning director Kevin Macdonald’s highly anticipated documentary about the life and career of legendary superstar Whitney Houston.

Whitney Houston broke more music industry records than any other female singer in history. With over 200 million album sales worldwide, she was the only artist to chart seven consecutive U.S. No. 1 singles. She also starred in several blockbuster movies before her brilliant career gave way to erratic behavior, scandals and death at age 48. The only film officially supported by the late singer’s estate, the documentary feature Whitney is an intimate, unflinching portrait of Houston and her family that probes beyond familiar tabloid headlines and sheds new light on the spellbinding trajectory of Houston’s life.

Using never-before-seen archival footage, exclusive demo recordings, rare performances, audio archives and original interviews with the people who knew her best, Macdonald unravels the mystery behind “The Voice,” who thrilled millions even as she struggled to make peace with her own troubled past.

The complete list of films selected for the Narrative Features and Documentary sections, as well as the HBO® Short Film Competition is as follows:

NARRATIVE FEATURES (IN COMPETITION)

The American Black Film Festival continues to provide a platform for aspiring filmmakers. The competitors in this category are eligible for the following jury awards: Best Director, sponsored by Cadillac (cash prize: $5,000); Best Narrative Feature; sponsored by Prudential (cash prize: $5,000); the NBC Spotlight Actor Award, sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal (cash prize: $5,000); Best Screenplay Award (cash prize: $2,500) and the Audience Award, sponsored by BET (cash prize: $10,000).

ANIMATOR

Director: Logan Hall and Julian Jones
Writer: Roberta Jones
Producer: Roberta Jones
Cast: Levenix Riddle, McKenzie Chinn, Phillip Edward Van Lear, Anita Chandwaney, Geno Walker

What would YOU do if you could draw the future and erase the past? That’s Neal, has to figure out after he is mysteriously gifted with this astonishing power. Should Neal use his power to change the world? Or for selfish gain? (What would YOU do?)

Commercial artist Neal Stewart takes an animation class with a mysterious professor that connects him to the ancient Griots of West Africa and the power to draw the future. When his girlfriend commits suicide, he learns he can erase the past with chilling consequences.

BEFORE THE VOWS

Director: Nicole Amarteifio
Writer: Nicole Amarteifio
Producer: Nicole Amarteifio, Ramesh Jai
Cast: John Dumelo, Maame Adjei, Nathaniel Kweku, Emeline Nsingi Nkosi, Jeffrey Forson, Berla Mundi

Meet Afua a modern day Ghanaian woman with plans to marry her fiancé Nii. The only problem is, Afua is not sure she believes in marriage. Her divorced parents, an unbearable stepmother, and Nii’s bickering married parents, cause Afua to doubt the very thing planned for just a few weeks away: her wedding. After watching Afua prance around town with her fiancé – selecting a cake, finalizing decorations and altering her dress – we then see her start questioning what makes a marriage truly work. And with nostalgic feelings for a former crush, Afua devises an unconventional plan to ensure that her and Nii embark on a long and happy marriage. However, the very plan devised to help them, is the same plan that may harm them – even before their intended “I do’s.” The story reflects a modern-day African love story that can be universally understood by millennials around the world.

JINN

Director: Nijla Mumin
Writer: Nijla Mumin
Producer: Avril Z. Speaks, Maya Emelle, Arielle Saturne Hodge
Exec Producer: Tommy Oliver, Billy Mulligan, Elton Brand, Angela Harvey, Mike C. Manning, Shandra L. McDonald, Amy McGary, Kristen McGary, and Simone Missick
Cast: Zoe Renne, Simone Missick, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Hisham Tawfiq, Kelly Jenrette, Ashlei Foushee, Damien Smith, Maya Morales

Summer (Zoe Renee) is a carefree, black teenage Instagram celebrity whose world turns upside down when her mother Jade (Missick) abruptly converts to Islam and becomes a different person. At first resistant to the faith, she begins to reevaluate her identity after becoming attracted to a Muslim classmate (Harrison​, Jr.), crossing the thin line between physical desire and piety. The film is a timely, fresh look at identity, Islam, and first love in contemporary Los Angeles.

SPRINTER

Writer and Director: Storm Saulter
Producer:  Robert Maylor, Clarence Hammond, Jamal Watson
Executive Producers: Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Richard Jefferson
Cast: Dale Elliott, Kadeem Wilson, Shantol Jackson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Lorraine Toussaint, David Alan Grier

The story follows Akeem, a 17-year-old Rastafarian teenager and track athlete. Burdened by an unstable father and an unruly older brother, his goal is to qualify for the national youth team and go to the World Youth Championships in Philadelphia. There, Akeem hopes reunite with his mother, who’s been living in Philly illegally for 10 years. But once he gets there, he realizes that dream isn’t necessarily shared.

CANAL STREET

Director: Ryhan LaMarr
Writers: Jon Knitter, Adam G. Key, Rhyan LaMarr
Producer: Rhyan LaMarr, Chris Jennings, Yancey Arias, Kevin Mullens, Bishop Eric Garnes
Cast: Bryshere Y. Gray, Woody McClain, Mekhi Phifer, Mykelti Williamson, Yancey Arias, Lance Reddick, Katie Chang, Jamie Hector, Kevin Quinn, Harry Lennix, Jon Seda, Will Yun Lee, Michael Beach and Giovanni Watson

After the mysterious death of a classmate, all eyes fall on Kholi Styles, the new kid at his high school. It’s up to his father, Jackie Styles, an up-and-coming lawyer from the slums of Chicago, to defend his son in court before time runs out and prove his son is not the monster the world has made him out to be.

NARRATIVE FEATURES (WORLD SHOWCASE)

A BOY. A GIRL. A DREAM

Director: Qasim Basir
Writer: Qasim Basir, Samantha Tanner
Producer: Datari Turner
Cast: Omari Hardwick, Meagan Good, Jay Ellis, Dominique Perry, Dijon Talton, Wesley Jonathan, and Affion Crockett

The story follows Cass (Hardwick), a handsome USC grad stalled in his career, is getting lost in the alcohol- and drug-infused world of LA club promotion. On the night of the 2016 Presidential Election he meets a woman named Frida (Good), a beautiful, spirited midwestern visitor dealing with a difficult breakup. She challenges him to revisit his broken dreams. Their chemistry is undeniable. Nothing will ever be the same again after Trump is surging ahead of Hilary Clinton.

THE FLEA

Writer and Director: Nicanson Guerrier
Producer: Nicanson Guerrier
Cast: Isaac Beverly, Sh’Kia Dennis, Kendall Mason

Set in the Miami landmark, Flea Market USA, we follow assistant manager Quentin Parker on what is supposed to be his last day. Comedy ensues as he must deal with customers, vendors, and his boss as he struggles to survive one more day on the job.

CHILDREN OF MUD

Director: Imoh Umoren
Writer: Imoh Umoren
Producer: Ify Egbera, Wale Borge, Imoh Umoren
Cast:  Liz Benson, Matilda Obaseki, Bassey Ekpenyong

Emem and her blind brother, Miracle, who are thrown out by their misguided aunt and become vagrant children, meet a community of other children in the same situation and learn to help each other. A Nollywood story of love, hope, and overcoming obstacles that highlights the issue of homeless children which is a huge concern in Nigeria.

ABFF DOCUMENTARIES

FANTASTIC: THE LEGACY OF SLUM VILLAGE

Writer and Director: Moe Lynch
Producer: Moe Lynch, Nicki Lynch
Cast: T3, Baatin, J Dilla, Q-tip, Common, Sway, Elzhi

Fantastic tells the story of how three young men from the east side of Detroit (T3, the late Baatin and J Dilla) formed one of the most underrated groups in hip hop history. From hustle to success through tragedy and breakups, the legacy of Slum Village lives on.

NOT IN MY NEIGHBOURHOOD

Director: Kurt Orderson
Writers: Raisa Cole, Kurt Orderson
Producer: Raisa Cole, Kurt Orderson
Cast:  Real life citizens

As cities around the world catapult themselves into ‘World Class’, Global City status, we have to ask ourselves, “at what cost”? Not in my Neigbourhood gives the account of citizens on the frontline of the struggle against the intersectional nature of Gentrification from three seemingly World Class Cities: Cape Town, Sāo Paulo, and New York.

The film explores the effects of various forms of spatial violence on the spirit and social-psyche of citizens. It follows their daily struggles, trials and triumphant moments, as they try to shape the cities they live in, from the bottom up! Portraying our characters as active citizens, fighting for their right to the city, the film acts as a portrait of stories telling the history of spatial violence within the background of Architectural Apartheid to Gentrification.

MAYNARD

Director: Sam Pollard
Writer: Sam Pollard, Wendy Eley Jackson
Producers: Wendy Eley Jackson, Maynard Jackson III, Winsome Sinclair, Dolly Turner, Jason Orr, Donald Jarmond, Autumn Bailey-Ford, Karl Carter

He was Obama before Obama, Maynard Holbrook Jackson became first black Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia in 1973 and this film is an exploration into a man who had dreams and ambitions to be a public servant for his people seeing that it was the next logical step in the journey that had been started by Dr. King, and so many others who had blazed the trail during the years of horrific segregation.

Maynard interviews include President Bill Clinton, Al Sharpton, Vernon Jordan, Ambassador Andrew Young, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Jesse Jackson, former Atlanta Mayor’s Sam Massel and Shirley Franklin, and current Mayor Kasim Reed to name a few.

HBO® SHORT FILM COMPETITION

Celebrating 20 years as an ABFF founder sponsor, HBO will continue its mission to support independent filmmakers.  A panel of HBO executives will judge the final entries during the festival. A grand prize of $10,000 will be awarded by HBO to one filmmaker at the ABFF Filmmaker Awards Presentation on June 17, 2017, with runners-up each receiving $5,000. All finalists will have the opportunity to have their entries licensed by HBO for exhibition on the HBO service, HBO Go, and HBO Now.

EMERGENCY

Directed by: Carey Williams
Produced by: Joenique C. Rose
Written by: K.D. Davila
Starring: Darrell Lake, Jason Woods, Peter Pasco, Michael Segovia, Shaw Jones

A group of young Black and Latino boys come home to their worst nightmare: An unconscious White girl on the floor of their apartment. Faced with this emergency, they weigh the pros and cons of calling the police.

HAIR WOLF

Directed by: Mariama Diallo
Produced by: Valerie Steinberg
Written by: Mariama Diallo
Starring: Kara Young, Taliah Webster, Madeline Weinstein, Trae Harris, Jermaine Crawford

After an emotional day with her family, Gema Walker comes home to face meeting her fiancé’s parents for the first time. Upon discovering that her future in-laws plan to drop by their Brooklyn apartment before dinner, Gema is forced into an emotional confrontation when Sam admits that he’s still harboring a sensitive and potentially damaging truth from his parents.

MOTHS & BUTTERFLIES

Directed by: Alfonso Johnson
Produced by: Alfonso Johnson, Garry Glasco, Eric Branco, Damon Diddit, Philippe Pierre
Written by: Alfonso Johnson
Starring: Amari Cheatom, Gillian Glasco

“Moths” follows Lenny, a socially awkward, schizoaffective man & Cherisse, a high energy boundless soul, as they try to accept themselves in this New York tale about mental illness, love, and the longing to be understood.

DAYS AFTER YOUR DEPARTURE

Directed by: Sam Sneed
Produced by: Chad Gittens, Akshay Bhansali
Written by: Joekenneth Museau
Starring: Joekenneth Museau

After losing his mother to a yearlong battle with cancer, Joekenneth Museau is left to question the meaning of his own existence.

SUITABLE

Directed by: Thembi L. Banks
Produced by: Ashley Chrisman
Written by: Rochee Jeffrey
Starring: Kelli Jordan, Tiffany Tenille, Derick Anthony

Brandy, a high school tom boy, comes to terms with her sexuality when she decides what she’ll wear to the prom. At its core, this film tackles issues of sexuality, gender and the realities young, black women face as they come-of-age in modern society.

WEB SERIES

AVANT GUARDIANS /U.S.A.

Director: Clarence Williams, IV
Cast: Alesia Etinoff and Zainab Johnson

A woke dramedy that covers a range of social justice topics such as mass incarceration, trans/homophobia, and bullying. The Guardian Angel to the 12 year-old future 3rdBlack President, Razz, is mandated to go to therapy with an ArchAngel, Dr. Hanniel.

THE YARD / U.S.A.

Director: John “Dr. Teeth” Tucker
Cast:Fonzworth Bentley, Montrel Miller, Shaina Farrow, DJ Baby Yu and Korey Bryant

Set on the campus of Booker A&T, a fictional historically black university, The Yard, is an animated sitcom that follows the comical adventures of five freshmen. Together these flawed students are about to get their first taste of the real world and experience numerous missteps as they navigate college and life.

KELOID U.S.A.

Director: Huriyyah Muhammad
Cast: Reynaldo Piniella and Kenna Jackson

The story revolves around know-it all teenager Keloid, who is born with super abilities he neither wants nor is able to control and his strong-willed, overprotective mother, Marielle. Together they must find a way to survive Keloid’s adolescence, while maintaining secrets that keep them safe, and hiding from mistakes in their past that haunt them.

BROOKLYNIFICATION / U.S.A.

Director: Keith Miller
Cast: Karl Williams, Felecia Harrelson, Lamar Cheston and Tallie Medel

Brooklynificationis an uncomfortable comedy series about gentrification in New York’s most storied borough. This diverse cast of characters takes on the good, the bad, and the awkward as transforming neighborhoods face the unexpected encounters of Brooklyn’s rapidly changing streets.

I AM NOT CHARLOTTE/U.S.A.

Director:Jean Pierre Chapoteau
Cast: Yani Simone and Darriel Violenes

Charlotte, a college student, discovers she is in love with Jake and is convinced that inviting him to dinner will seal the deal. Charlotte takes advice from a few people that she knows all too well to help her win over her crush.

For a complete festival schedule and to purchase passes, tickets for events, panels and screenings at the American Black Film Festival, log on to http://www.abff.com/festival-passes/.


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