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ABFF 2013 Winners, In The Meantime, Let Me Explain Premieres

ABFF 2013 Winners, In The Meantime, Let Me Explain PremieresPosted by Wilson Morales

June 23, 2013

Film Life’s 17th annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) announced the winners of their independent film awards in the Salon Room at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on June 22, 2012.

The fourth and final day of the festival day began with a rewarding panel which featured some of Black Hollywood’s most noted female tastemakers who participated in a verbal walk thru of their journey navigating the film industry in “The Artist’s Vision: Cultural Criticism and the Filmmaker’s Voice.” The panel, moderated by Dr. Michele Prettyman Beverly, featured director Spike Lee, actress Salli Richardson-Whitfield, casting director Kim Hardin, and director David E. Talbert.

Up next, ABFF Sponsor, Cadillac, and actor Anthony Anderson hosted a panel entitled “ABFF Movie Challenge”
where filmgoers had their Black Cinema I.Q tested during this fun-filled event.

Afterwards, folks went over to the Colony Theater for the World Premiere of ‘In The Meantime,‘ which is based on the winning screenplay submitted by Nzinga Kadalie Kemp. She was the 2012 winner of the GMC (now called Up) Faith and Family Screenplay Competition. Directed by Roger M. Bobb, In The Meantime stars Kali Hawk, Darrin Dewitt Henson, Terri J. Vaughn, Thomas Mikal Ford, Rodney Perry, David Mann, Tamela Mann and singer Musiq Soulchild, who’s making his film debut.

The Festival Award Presentation opened out the top of the evening with a star studded red carpet event.

The HBO Short Film Award was given to ‘A Different Tree,’ which was directed by Steven Caple Jr. and written by Victoria Rose. The $10,000 grand prize award was presented by Dennis Williams, Vice President, Cultural and Social Responsibility of HBO.

“A Different Tree” is about an eight year old girl’s journey to connect with her absent father and fill out a class-assigned family tree. When Pearl Washington (Ashley) receives a family tree assignment at school, she must face the pain of having grown up without a father, her resentment towards her mother, Jada (Tracie Thoms), and her jealousy of best friend, Mia. She sets out on a journey to meet her dad – but the road takes her somewhere unexpected.

This year’s HBO Star Project two grand-prize winners are Latoya Codner, an Chicago native and Vladimir Versailles from New York. The award was presented by Kendra Carter, Director of Talent Diversity Initiatives, NBC Universal Casting.

Star Project is an international acting competition for emerging multicultural artists. The winners are afforded the opportunity to audition for a leading casting director and one person will be selected to participate in a walk on role on the award-winning NBC daytime drama ‘Days of Our Lives.’

In the Up Faith and Family Screenplay Competition, the winner was Keronda ‘Kiki’ McKnight of Los Angeles, California for her feature film screenplay entitled, ‘Mary Jo’s Candy.’ The $5000 Grand Prize award was presented by GMC Vice-Chairman Brad Siegel and DeEtta West.

The award for best documentary was given to ‘Homegoings,’ written and directed by Christine Turner . The award was presented by a CNN spokesperson.

Through the heart and soul of funeral director Isaiah Owens, the beauty and grace of African-American funerals are miraculously brought to life in HOMEGOINGS, honoring a rich palette of tradition, history and celebration. HOMEGOINGS tells the tale of how we cope with death and sending our loved ones “home.” Filmmaker Christine Turner combines intimate interviews and compelling cinéma vérité to paint an enlightening portrait—that is both heartwarming and haunting—of not only the dearly departed, but also the man who serves them so well.

This year, the ABFF Webisode Challenge, a new award was created and presented by GIANTlife. Each of the young creatives competed for the opportunity to showcase their work to the Interactive One audience. Three finalists were selected through online voting and had the opportunity to screen their webisode during ABFF. The winner, presented by Smokey D. Fontaine, the Chief Content Officer of Interactive One, was RomieLoverFriends, created by the Black & Sexy TV team Dennis Dortch and Numa Perrier.

Executive produced by Issa Rae (aka Awkward Black Girl) via her Issa Rae Productions, the series stars Shayla Hale and Andra Fuller, as the main characters Tamiko and Jayson. The two share an apartment and never know when they will end up sharing a bed! Though Tamiko is single, she obviously cannot help the attraction she has for Jayson. To start the story off, the two somehow end up in bed together. The series shows Tamiko as tries to remain focused, all the while listening to the humorous advice of her best friend Tiffany and nosy cousins Calista and Constance.

The Grand Jury Prize for Best Performance by an Actor was given to Shanola Hampton for her performance in ‘Things Never Said.’ The award was presented by a Marriot spokesperson and picked up by her co-star and ABFF 2013 Ambassador Omari Hardwick. The Prize includes $5000 sponsored by Marriot.

Hampton plays Kalindra Stepney (Kal), an emerging spoken-word poetess, someone who willingly speaks her thoughts, but she’s an artist who has yet to find her voice. A native of California, Kal has dreams of taking her poems to New York and the infamous Nuyorican stage. Haunted by a miscarriage and saddled with RONNIE, a husband who’s angry and without direction – he uses his fists as a form of speech, Kal tries desperately to find an outlet for her struggling voice.

Presented by Salli Richardson-Whitfield, the Grand Jury Award for Best Screenplay was given to Charles Murray, writer and director of ‘Things Never Said.’ In his absence, the prize was picked up by executive producer Steven LaBroi.

Lionsgate’s Codeblack Films has acquired the U.S. rights to the romantic drama, which also stars Elimu Nelson (“The Shield,” “House of Lies”), Michael Beach (“Third Watch,” “ER”), Tamala Jones (Up in the Air, Booty Call) and Dorian Missick (“Law and Order,” “Haven”).

Robert Townsend (‘The Five Heartbeats’) had the pleasure of bringing up the five nominees/representatives to the stage for the Grand Jury Prize for Best Director. The winner was writer/director Stephen Lloyd Jackson for his film ‘Sable Fable.’ The winner receives film stock valued at $5000.

With a cast that includes James Williams, Nicole Hartley, Sheila Nortley, Jasmine Munting, Daniel Bailey, Alex Marx, Stephen Lloyd Jackson and Lily Joseph, the film explores the complex psychology of love, sex and race through four different couples whose lives intertwine with one another.

Jackson’s film was also given the Grand Jury Prize for Best Film. The award was presented by director Spike Lee. The winner receives film stock valued at $5000, presented by Crystal Wilson, Diversity Communications at General Motors.

Jackson is no stranger to winning awards at ABFF. His first movie, SAR Productions’ ‘sex and race’ trilogy, ‘David Is Dying‘ won two grand jury prize awards at the 15th ABFF in 2011 for best male actor – Lonyo Engele and best director.

After the award ceremony, folks went over to the Guzman Center For The Performing Arts for ABFF’s Closing Night Film, which was Kevin Hart’s Let Me Explain.

It was certainly a star-studded affair as many celebs, including those from the festival (Boris Kodjoe, Kali Hawk, Robert Townsend, Spike Lee, Chris Spencer, Datari Turner, Salli-Richardson-Whitfield, Bernard Bronner) and NBA Champions Miami Heats players LeBron James and Dwyane Wade came out to support to Kevin Hart, who introduced the film.

The afterparty was held at Club Play where Dj Teddy Ted & Special K were doing the music.

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