2014′s American Black Film Festival in New York City has concluded. In the 18 years since its inception, the ABFF has migrated from Acapulco, Mexico, to Los Angeles, to Miami and now New York City.
Opening the festival was Think Like a Man Two a coming of age comedy starring Kevin Hart. Closing the festival was Spike Lee with his Kickstarter funded “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus”, which I can only describe as a Spike Lee Joint like no other.
With screenings at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Theater , and workshops and masterclasses at The Metropolitan Pavillion the four day festival highlights the best in Black cinema and bridges the gap between Independent Black film and mainstream content within the motion picture community. How fitting then the festival tagline: “Because Holly-wouldn’t”.
Personally I didn’t manage to attend as many of the films I’d have liked due to the fact that my own feature Sweetboy was one of the official selections, however the ABFF displayed a diverse range of brilliant independent films. From fellow Brit filmmaker Dean Charles multi-layered relationship drama “Hard Time Bus” to Alton Glass’s “Cru”, a redemptive tale of a tragedy which effects the lives of four reunited high school friends.
What is exceptional about the ABFF is that it creates a platform for independent filmmakers. I found myself on day four talking to director Spike Lee and ABFF Founder Jeff Friday and this was just one of the examples of it’s accomadating and inclusive atmosphere.
Complete list of ABFF 2014 Awards:
HBO® Short Film Competition – “Muted” written and produced by Brandi Ford, directed by Rachel Goldberg, award and $10,000 prize presented by HBO.
UP TV Faith and Family Screenplay Competition – Christopher Brandt for “Island in the Sun” award and $5,000 prize presented by UP
ABFF Star Project Winners – Kimberly D. Mitchell and Stefan Dezil, awards presented by NBCUniversal
Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary – “25 to Life,” directed by Mike L. Brown, award presented by CNN Films
Grand Jury Prize for Best Actress – Aunjanue Ellis for her performance in “Una Vida,” award and $2,500 prize presented by GentleTreatment
Grand Jury Prize for Best Actor – Keith Robinson for his performance in “CRU,” award presented by UPTOWN Magazine
Grand Jury Prize for Best Screenplay – “CRU,” written by Alton Glass and Oliver W. Ottley III, award and $5,000 prize presented by the Time Warner Foundation
Grand Jury Prize for Best Director – “CRU,” written by Alton Glass and Oliver W. Ottley III, directed by Alton Glass, award and $5,000 prize provided by Cadillac
Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature – “CRU,” produced by Danny Green, Courtney Triggs and Matthew Hatchette, award presented by BET Networks
Audience Award for Best Film – (tied) “UNA VIDA,” produced by Richie Adams, Brent Caballero, Nicolas Bazan, and Nancy Green-Keyes and “CRU,” produced by Danny Green,
Courtney Triggs and Matthew Hatchette, award presented by Nielsen
Webisode Challenge Winner – “Close Friends,” created by Ricky W. Jean-Francois and Mckinson Souverain