For its 26th year, American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is returning to Miami Beach. For the past two years, Founder and CEO Jeff Friday and his business partner and wife, Nicole Friday, President & General Manager of ABFF Ventures LLC, have held their renowned festival virtually amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Now, with the world getting back into the swing of things, the Fridays and 2022 Ambassador Issa Rae are inviting journalists, actors, entertainment VIPS, film and TV lovers, and anyone else who’d like to join back to the in-person festivals. It will be a celebration that consistently recognizes stories for us and by us. 

This year, ABFF will run from June 15-19, and Shadow and Act will be in attendance for all of the screenings, talks, and various events. American Black Film Festival began in 1997 after Jeff Friday attended a slew of mainstream festivals where diversity and inclusion were hard to find. From that moment forward, the Fridays have worked diligently to ensure that Black stories and creators are recognized. 

All five festival days are full of various events to attend. However, here are some of the highlights. 

Netflix’s Civil will serve as the opening night film this year. The documentary, helmed by award-winning filmmaker Nadia Hallgren will take a close look at the life of famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump. Crump is a trailblazer in the present-day Civil Rights Movement who has fought on behalf of families like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor for the rights of Black citizens across the country. 

A spotlight screening of Disney+’s The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder will include a chat with actresses Kyla Pratt, Paula Jai Parker, and JoMarie Payton, who have returned to revive the beloved series for a brand new generation. 

The Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee-directed Aftershock will also screen at ABFF this year. The searing documentary grapples with the Black maternal health crisis in America through the purview of two devastated families who lost young Black women during childbirth amid medical negligence. 

The cast of Bel-Air will be in attendance to screen clips from the acclaimed Peacock series and speak about its importance. Moreover, ABFF will hold its 25th Annual HBO Short Film Award Showcase, recognizing the next generation of diverse, artistic, and creative talent. This year includes Sherif Alabede’s Another Country, Elisee Junior St Preux’s Aurinko in Adagio, Gia-Rayne Harris’ Pens & Pencils, Destiny J Macon’s Talk Black, and Rebecca Usoro’s The Family Meeting

Black women will also stand at the center of this year’s ABFF, celebrating the legacy of late film producer Michelle Materre. There will also be a conversation with Gina Prince-Bythewood, Kasi Lemmons, and Nicole Brown with Fierce Female Filmmakers of TriStar Pictures.

Showrunners Robin Thede (A Black Lady Sketch Show), Rikki Hughes (The Hype), and Randy Huggins (BMF) are set to take attendees into the Life Of A Showrunner.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary year of Jackie Robinson becoming the first Black player in Major League Baseball, SpringHill Company’s After Jackie will screen at ABFF. 

Some of our favorite leading men, Trevante Rhodes, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Michael Ealy, will discuss their career journeys while relaying messages to young Black men and boys in our community.

Moreover, Prime Video’s A League of Their Own starring Chanté Adams will debut its pilot, which is based on the beloved ‘90s movie of the same name.

Finally, ABFF’s ambassador Issa Rae will present her newest project, Rap Sh!t, which she executive produced as the closing night screening. 

Check out the full schedule here

Keep up with Shadow and Act for your inside view into ABFF 2022. 

Aramide A. Tinubu is a film critic, consultant and entertainment
editor. As a journalist, her work has been published in Netflix’s Tudum, EBONY, JET,
ESSENCE, Bustle, The Daily Mail, IndieWire and Blavity. She wrote her master’s thesis
on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a
cinephile, bookworm, blogger and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can find her
reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or A Word With Aramide or tweet her @wordwitharamide.