It’s about a week away, running from July 6th through the 9th, in Miami, FL. I’ll be there for the duration, so maybe I’ll see some of you there as well! Look for the brotha in the purple Zoot suit, and Stacey Adams alligator print lace-ups 🙂

But really, if you’re going to be there, let me know, and maybe we can have a Shadow And Act gathering… or something (ya know, that actually just gave me an idea for future festivals… brain working… brain working…)

Check out the official press announcement below; a few of these titles have been profiled already, and the rest are coming…

NEW YORK, June 29, 2011 – Film Life Inc., today announced the official film selections for the 15th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) taking place in South Beach Miami, FL, July 6-9th. Opening the festival this year will be, In the Hive (Townsend Entertainment), produced by Robert Townsend and starring Michael Clarke Duncan, Loretta Devine, Vivica A. Fox and Jonathan “Lil J” McDaniel (That’s So Raven). In addition to the two narrative features and documentary competition categories, ABFF will also present four out-of-competition films as well as five sponsored screenings.

The Opening Night Selection, In the Hive is based on the true story of Vivian Saunders and the real life experiences of those who attended and taught at a special school in North Carolina. Saunders, who did not have a formal education herself, started an alternative school for teenage gang bangers, drug dealers and young fathers 14-15 years old, to provide a safe place for troubled boys. This is a story of second chances and breaking the cycle of living life on the streets, in gangs and in jail.

Festival organizers also announced the HBO SHORT FILM COMPETITION, which has been part of the festival for 14 years. Film awards presented include: The HBO Short Film Award; Grand Jury Prize for Best Film, sponsored by Wells Fargo; Grand Jury Prize for Best Actor, sponsored by Gold Peak Tea; Grand Jury Prize for Best Director, sponsored by Cadillac; Grand Jury Prize for Best Screenplay, sponsored by Team Sizzle Worldwide; and Best Documentary sponsored by CNN. Prizes totaling $55,000 and will be presented at ABFF’s culminating ceremony, ABFF Honors, on July 9.



IN THE HIVE, produced by Robert Townsend (World Premiere), courtesy of Townsend Corporation
CAST: Michael Clark Dunkin, Loretta Devine, Vivica A. Fox, Jonathan “Lil J” McDaniel
A gritty, factually based film set in rural North Carolina at the HIVE Academy, a technologically inspired alternative school for underachieving boys who, because of their gang and criminal behavior, no other school will admit. At the heart of the story is sixteen year old Xtra Keyes, a young father who’s tougher than nails yet discovers through the nurturing at the HIVE that his toughness can also lead to new found hope and perhaps even a future.

Five films compete for $20,000 grand prize sponsored by HBO

FIG, written by Alex George Pickering, directed by Ryan Coogler (World Premiere)
CAST: Jontille Gerard, Jessica Tome, Charline St. Charles
Candace is a young, single mother in South Los Angeles. One night, when she is without food or money, she makes a desperate choice–and risks losing the most important thing in her life, as the bond with her daughter is put to the ultimate test.

FOR FLOW, written by Kesav Wable, directed by Jason Camp (World Premiere)
CAST: Brian D. Coats, Cherrye Davis, Vladimi Versailles, Devere Rogers
Dee and Kane are two aspiring MCs (rappers) searching for a way to climb out of the hard-knock lives they’ve been forced to lead. On a lonely street corner in the Bronx, they wait for a record producer in hopes that the meeting will change their lives forever.

PAGE 36, written & directed by Nelsan Ellis (World Premiere)
CAST: Roger Guenveur Smith, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Coley Mustafa Speaks
Roman Wilson, a recently paroled two-time felon, returns home to his overworked and underpaid girlfriend and their terminally ill son, who is in desperate need of medical care. With no positive employment prospects, and desperate for money, Roman signs a contract with a deadly clause.

SALVATION ROAD, written by Michael Cobian, Greg Hendrick & Ka’ramuu Kush, directed by Ka’ramuu Kush (World Premiere)
CAST: Russell Hornsby, Michael J. Harney, Roger Guenveur Smith
Business becomes unusual for an unsuspecting hitman who senses that he’s been witnessed murdering his traitorous mentor by a 9-year-old boy.

THE TURTLE & THE NIGHTINGALE, written & directed by Gershon Hinkson (World Premiere)
CAST: Paul Barber, Lawrence Daniels-White, George Johnston, Rapha’el Olakotan
In Crystal Palace, London, as three precocious twelve-year-olds navigate their already antagonizing lives at home, they also grapple with the issue of bullying in school—and learn a lesson about friendship that might cost one of them his life.

NARRATIVE FEATURES COMPETITION: The four films in this category compete for ABFF’s Grand Jury Prizes for…

Best Screenplay, presented by Team Sizzle Films
Best Director, presented by Cadillac
Best Actor presented by Gold Peak Tea
Best Film, presented by Wells Fargo

BLACK GOLD, directed by Jeta Amata (World Premiere)
CAST: Mbong Amata, Vivica A. Fox, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Billy Zane
One local Niger Delta community led by an orphan struggle against its own government and a multi-national oil corporation that has plundered their land and destroyed the environment. A powerful story of greed, murder and corruption pitted against human and environmental justice.

DAVID IS DYING, directed by Stephen Lloyd Jackson (World Premiere)
CAST: Lonyo Engele, Isaura Barbe-Brown, Brigitte Millar, Stephen Samuel Jackson, Jr., Ysra Daley Ward, Allan Sealy
A young, successful hedge fund manager has just been told that he is HIV positive. Through an intense therapy session, David takes us on a dark, pernicious journey that displays the ugly side of love.

DYSFUNCTIONAL FRIENDS, directed by Corey Grant (World Premiere)
CAST: Persia White, Hosea Chanchez, Meagan Good, Stacey Dash, Terrell “T.O.” Owens
A comedy drama about a group of estranged friends who are reunited after their larger-than-life friend unexpectedly dies. They are all forced to spend the weekend together in order to collect their inheritances while reevaluating their lives and goals.

THE LAST LAUGH, directed by Kenny Young (World Premiere)
CAST: Tony Rock Rodney Perry Faune C. Chambers Clifton Powell Luenell Kenny Young Kym Whitley, Lavell Crawford, Aries Spears
A hilarious and thought-provoking mockumentary that chronicles the attempted comeback of fictional fallen comedy star ‘Jeff Woods,’ on his quest to battle his demons, rebuild broken relationships and rejuvenate his crushed career.

THE TESTED, directed by Russell Costanzo (Florida Premiere)
CAST: Aunjanue Ellis, Armando Riesco, Michael Morris, Jr.
One year ago a plain clothed cop gunned down an unarmed teen. The teen’s mother spirals into a pit of despair, while his brother flirts with ganglife. As the cop prepares to get back to work, each of the three realizes they cannot find closure without the others.

The specific nominees are as follows:

Grand Jury Prize for Best Screenplay, presented by Team Sizzle Films
Jeta Amata – BLACK GOLD
Stephen Lloyd Jackson – DAVID IS DYING
Kenny Young – THE LAST LAUGH
Russell Costanzo – THE TESTED

Grand Jury Prize for Best Director, presented by Cadillac
Jeta Amata – BLACK GOLD
Stephen Lloyd Jackson – DAVID IS DYING
Kenny Young – THE LAST LAUGH
Russell Costanzo – THE TESTED

Grand Jury Prize for Best Actor, presented by Gold Peak Tea
Mbong Amata as “Ebiere” – BLACK GOLD
Lonyo Engele as “David Brown” – DAVID IS DYING
Persia White as “Trenyce” – DYSFUNCTIONAL FRIENDS
Tony Rock as “Jeff Woods” – THE LAST LAUGH
Aunjanue Ellis as “Darraylynn Warren” – THE TESTED

Grand Jury Prize for Best Film, presented by Wells Fargo

Four films compete for Best Documentary, sponsored by CNN.

BROWN BABIES, directed by Regina Griffin (World Premiere)
Biracial, bicultural, illegitimate children unwanted by enemy nations. Postwar occupation Germany’s forgotten collateral damage.

MORE THAN CONQUERORS, directed by Andre Wilkins (World Premiere)
The stories of eight African Americans who have battled cancer and found — through love, faith and family — a reservoir of hope, learning that a diagnosis of cancer is not a death sentence.

SOLE OF A HUSTLA, directed by Adam Woodard (World Premiere)
Five Black men from the Memphis hood, with a vision to build a company and pursue the American Dream. Journey with these entrepreneurs as they discover a very different start-up reality.

THE SCROLL, directed by Parrish Smith (World Premiere)
FEATURING: T.D. Jakes, Noel Jones, Hezekiah Walker, Shirley Caesar
A collection of inspirational stories told by some of the most prolific spiritual leaders of the 21st century. The Scroll is an intimate portrait looking into the hearts of pastors who speak of life lessons and transcending faith.


BREATHE, directed by Jerry Allen Davis (World Premiere)
CAST: Robin Givens, Elise Neal, Jazsmine Lewis, Miguel Nunez, Steven Williams
A woman’s dream of becoming a mother turns into a nightmare when, during her pregnancy, she is stalked by a silent killer.

MOTHER COUNTRY, directed by Maria Breaux (World Premiere)
CAST: Thomas Galasso, Cindy Pickett, Thea Gill, Ernest Waddell, Katherine Celio
After committing murder, Dwight Porter grows remorseful and sets out on a journey to walk from Texas to California in search of a former teacher, the one person who believed in him.

SHANGHAI HOTEL, directed by Jerry Allen Davis (World Premiere)
CAST: Hill Harper, Eugenia Yuan, Cheng Pei Pei, J.D. Williams
A young Chinese woman who is a victim of human trafficking finds solace with a New York City bike messenger. The two share their hopes, dreams and pain.

THE EXPERIENCE, directed by Addison Henderson (World Premiere)
CAST: William Henderson, Korey Green, Kush B., Alex Gyambrah, Addison Henderson
On a pilgrimage to Ghana and West Africa, five individuals search for the buried history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade; a global story that raises the question, “What is identity?”- Is it merely our DNA makeup, is it history left behind by our ancestors or does it go deeper?


TRINITY GOODHEART, courtesy of The gmc Television Network (World Premiere)

KEVIN HART’S LAUGH AT MY PAIN, courtesy of Codeblack Entertainment
(World Premiere)

DO WOMEN KNOW WHAT THEY WANT? courtesy of Michael Baisden Films

MARCO POLO, courtesy of Team Sizzle Films


Additional festival highlights include:
• 15th Annual ABFF Honors –Special Tribute to Director/Producer, Keenen Ivory Wayans.
• ABFF Remembers: Boyz N’ the Hood on its 20th Anniversary – Screening of a 27 minute documentary on the making of the film followed by Q&A with Oscar nominated writer/director John Singleton. Moderated by Trina Robinson, NBC Miami.
• The return of the Pro-Hollywood Workshop (PHI)—a workshop for professional athletes looking for a comprehensive overview of the creative and business disciplines related to the film industry.
• A Conversation with Paula Patton, sponsored by American Airlines.
• 15th Annual ABFF Honors hosted by Anthony Anderson and Regina King.
• Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens All-Pro Linebacker and Film Producer, has been named PHI Ambassador.
• Master Class Series led by Robert Townsend, Michael Elliot and Bill Duke.
• Gold Peak Tea Splash Party with acclaimed Chef G. Garvin, sponsored by Gold Peak Tea.
• ABFF 15th Anniversary Party featuring live performance by Grammy Nominated recording artist Melanie Fiona.
• The Star Project acting competition.
• The gmc Television Networks’ Faith & Family Screenplay Competition

Movie tickets go on sale July 7th. Ticket prices range from $12 – 20.
Walk up tickets will be on sale day of show only at the Colony Theater and Miami Beach Cinematheque prior to each screening beginning July 7th. There are no advance sales.

*Full pass and ticket information for the 2011 ABFF can be found at