For 22 years the American Black Film Festival has been heating up black cinema as the nation's largest gathering of Black film and TV enthusiasts, with approximately 10,000 attendees. This year's festival hosted in Miami Beach, Florida reached a record high with a sold out event! In it's inception the annual event is dedicated to showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent.
The festival traditionally opens with a Hollywood movie premiere, followed by independent film and television screenings. I kicked off my first ABFF experience, Wednesday June 13 with the screening of Superfly at the Fillmore on Miami Beach. The screening commenced with opening remarks by founder Jeff Friday on the importance of black film, filmmakers and the power of our stories as well as acknowledgment of sponsors. The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau announced the festival will be hosted in Miami for three more years. Sign me up for all three!
The cast of Superfly joined the screening including Trevor Jackson, Jason Mitchell, Lex Scott Davis, Carol City's own "The Boss," Rick Ross, Future and more.
You never know who you may run into at the screening of a major film. Met actor Devale and his beautiful wife Khadeen from Black Love Doc and my Soror comedian, Kym Whitley in the ladies restroom. I love my DST!
After the screening attendees trickled over to the Opening Night Party at Story Night Club, sponsored by Aspire TV.
Things got real Thursday with Omari Hardwick as Gentleman Jack and Code Black Films presented Real to Reel, a program that celebrates new African American voices in film. Change clothes and go .... The legendary All White Party at Nikki Beach was next on the agenda Thursday night. Walked up to the party with Sherri Shepherd and Kym Whitley only to realize I was in the wrong line, you are not VIP, yet LaShannon lol. As the night progressed the party escalated to a lituation - a lit situation! Met the sweet and hilarious Bresha Webb from Marlon and Being Mary Jane's own Chike Okonkwo.
Quickly learned that ABFF is more than party central. This festival encourages and rewards artistic excellence and provides a platform for more than 1,000 narrative feature films, documentaries, shorts and Web originals. Friday I was able to catch a couple of screenings at Regal 18 South Beach including: Up North, Searching for Isabelle, Sprinter and my FAVORITE, LOVE is with my Soror Mara Brock Akil. Check out an excerpt from the Q&A with the cast https://youtu.be/ZRrAHjxwFyU. Took a break from cinema to enjoy lunch and a thought provoking conversation with actor Chike, Terri Williams President & COO of OneUnited Bank, Suzan McDowell, CEO of Circle of One Marketing and Dr. Gladstone McDowell.
After spending time with my father for Father's Day I was able to make it to the screening of Rest in Power - A Trayvon Martin story screened at the Colony Theater Saturday night - https://youtu.be/NOpU3dSbCSY. A very brave Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, parents of Trayvon Martin shared their story and the making of the documentary that will air on BET later on in the year. The panel was led by Angela Rye.
"It's So Miami" Closing Night Party at the Betsy Hotel was complementary epic as the opening night party at Story. Connected with Cylla Senii creator of the web series, SituationshipNY and Sprinter star, Kadeem Wilson.
ABFF is more than a festival, it's a celebration of our black culture through film and story telling. Attendees are fans, creators, filmmakers, directors, producers, disrupters, dreamers and content creators. The people you meet along the way is what makes ABFF experience so memorable. Met these cool dudes from Baltimore who have been traveling to ABFF for 10 years. My first ABFF experience was litty to say the least, informative and evoked a creative side that was awakening. Definitely looking forward to next year!
Visit the link for more information on the American Black Film Festival.