American Black Film Festival Culminates 25th Anniversary with
The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) today announced the winners of the competitive film selections and talent pipeline programs during the Best of the ABFF Awards ceremony. Hosted by comedian, actress and author Amanda Seales (Insecure), the ceremony was presented virtually for the second year on ABFF’s custom-designed streaming platform ABFF PLAY. ABFF winners receive a combined total cash prize of over $55,000 along with two actors cast in an upcoming original series. Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry served as this year’s ABFF ambassador.
Known for showcasing Black talent and discovering new voices, the month-long festival featured an unprecedented number of independent films -- 102 -- representing the best in Black cinema. The festival’s international film entries hailed from 32 countries, including Angola, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Ghana, Germany, Haiti, Namibia, Portugal, Saint Croix, South Africa and the United Kingdom. This year’s jury president was producer and ABFF alum Will Packer (Girl’s Trip, Ride Along).
Complementing ABFF’s wide range of films, the festival’s lineup of events included spotlight screenings, networking events and talks featuring Debra Martin Chase, Morris Chestnut, Colman Domingo, Meagan Good, Regina King, MC Lyte, Niecy Nash, Michael Rainey Jr., Larenz Tate, Flex Alexander and Shanice Wilson. A festival highlight was a one-on-one conversation with Halle Berry where she discussed her career and directorial debut Bruised. All events were presented free of charge reaching a global audience from 95 countries around the world during the festival which ran November 3-28.
Along with ABFF Ventures Founder and CEO Jeff Friday, featured presenters at the award ceremony were film and television industry executives representing ABFF’s impressive roster of partners and sponsors including: Karen Horne SVP, Equity + Inclusion, WarnerMedia; Sirius XM “Bevelations” host Bevy Smith on behalf of HBO; Juanita Slappy, Head of Multicultural Marketing, Cadillac; Dupe Bosu, Vice President, Strategic Communications (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion), NBCUniversal; Keith Le Goy, Chairman, Distribution & Networks, Sony Pictures Entertainment; Yahoo National Reporter and Fellow, Garin Flowers.
The 2021 Jury Award winners are:
HBO Short Film Award, presented by HBO
Prize: $10,000 for winner, $5,000 each for four finalists
When the Sun Sets, written and directed by Phumi Morare
Jury Award - Best Director, presented by Cadillac
Trees of Peace, directed by Alanna Brown
John Singleton Award - Best First Feature, presented by Netflix
Trees of Peace, directed by Alanna Brown
Jury Award - Best Narrative Feature, presented by Sony Pictures Entertainment
Trees of Peace, produced by Ron Ray, Barry Levine, Mike Bundlie, Brian Baniqued, Jeff Spiegel, Vicky Petela and Alanna Brown
Jury Award - Best Documentary Feature, presented by Yahoo
The Neutral Ground, directed by CJ Hunt, produced by Darcy McKinnon
Jury Award - Best Web Series, presented by Comcast NBCUniversal
True Story: I Feel, directed and written by Matthew Law
The 2021 Talent Pipeline Program winners are:
WarnerMedia Access Writers Competition – Drama
Soul City Texas, Tony Clomax
WarnerMedia Access Writers Competition – Comedy
Crazy in Love, Marcus Stricklin
ALLBLK’s Shoot Your Shot Casting Call
Prize: Role in upcoming original series, West Philly, Baby
Virginia Watson and Harrison White
The 2021 Fan Favorites as determined by the ABFF’s virtual audience are:
Fan Favorite Narrative Feature, B-Boy Blues
Fan Favorite Documentary, 100 Years From Mississippi
Fan Favorite Web Series, Last Bodega in Brooklyn
Fan Favorite ABFF Pride, Everyday Black Matter
Fan Favorite World Showcase, Coffee
Fan Favorite New Voices, Pickney
“We wrapped our 25th year on an incredibly exhilarating high as we honored some of the most talented and promising filmmakers who are sharing authentic stories about experiences from a Black and Brown perspective,” said Jeff Friday, Founder and CEO, ABFF Ventures LLC. “Showcasing this content and uplifting Black creatives is what ABFF is all about. As we close out this landmark year, fraught with uncertainty, with a highly successful virtual celebration we are honored and encouraged. We extend profound thanks to our corporate partners and supporters, our worldwide audience and celebrity participants and look forward to continuing the ABFF legacy in Miami in 2022.”
ABFF sponsors to date include WarnerMedia and HBO® (Founding); Cadillac, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Amazon Studios (Presenting); Comcast NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, American Airlines, AT&T, Meta and IMDb (Premier); ALLBLK, HBOMax, City of Miami Beach, Netflix, Prudential Financial, TBS, Yahoo, Starz, Warner Bros. Pictures, Disney Television Studios, National Geographic, and Variety (Official); Accenture, AspireTV, Motion Picture Association (MPA), Morgan Stanley, OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), and Sephora (Supporting). Media partners include BIN: Black Information Network, TheGrio and Rolling Out.
For festival information, visit and follow @ABFF on Twitter and @AmericanBlackFilmFestival on Instagram and Facebook. Join in on the conversation by using #ABFF.
PRESS RELEASE: ABFF PRESS
[MUSIC] MAXWELL, ASHANTI, BRUNO MARS, ANDERSON .PAAK, SILK SONIC, ARI LENNOX, LEON BRIDGES, AND LUCKY DAYE TO PERFORM AT THE 2021 “SOUL TRAIN AWARDS,” PRESENTED BY BET
HIGHLY-ANTICIPATED SOUL CYPHER TO FEATURE D-NICE, MUSIQ SOULCHILD, JAC ROSS, KORYN HAWTHORNE, ELLE VARNER, AND TONE STITH
Maxwell has artfully managed to transfix music lovers for more than two decades, releasing five studio albums, all in his own time and all duly anointed as classics. The soul singer redefined soul music in April of 1996 when he released his critically acclaimed debut on Columbia Music, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite. It earned GRAMMY® nominations, double-platinum status and RIAA gold for the single "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)." Platinum albums Embrya (1998) and Maxwell Now (2001) followed. After an eight-year break between album releases, BLACK summers' night (2009) debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and won two GRAMMY® awards, including Best R&B Album. To date, Maxwell has achieved 4 platinum album certifications from the RIAA. His last album blackSUMMERS’night, the second installment of his musical trilogy, earned Maxwell his third-GRAMMY® (Best R&B Song for “Lake By The Ocean”) an NAACP Image Award (Outstanding Male Artist), and a Soul Train Award (Best R&B/Soul Male Artist).
Award-winning singer/songwriter, actor, entrepreneur, and author Ashanti has been tapped to receive the seventh annual Soul Train ‘Lady of Soul’ Award. Among her numerous accolades, Ashanti has received several Soul Train Awards throughout her illustrious career, including R&B/Soul Album – Female, Independent R&B/Soul Performance, two awards for R&B/ Soul Single – Female and the Lady of Soul Awards’ Aretha Franklin Entertainer of the Year Award. Ashanti’s expansive multiplatinum discography has brought her to the top of the charts, meriting eight Billboard awards and a GRAMMY® for Best Contemporary R&B Album (Ashanti). She was the first female to make Billboard history by having her first three chart entries land in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time, a feat previously accomplished only by The Beatles. With a career that spans decades, Ashanti has established herself as a staple in music and will also receive a Star on the infamous Hollywood Walk of Fame in April 2022.
BET, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIACA, VIAC), is the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African American audience. The primary BET channel is in 125 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET+, the preeminent streaming service for the Black audience; BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks - BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.
ABOUT JESSE COLLINS ENTERTAINMENT
Jesse Collins Entertainment (JCE) is a full-service television and film production company that has played an integral role in producing many of television’s most memorable moments in music entertainment. The Emmy® nominated company has a multi-year overall agreement with ViacomCBS Cable Networks. On the theatrical film side, the company also has a first look on JCE’s film development projects which could include Viacom’s film entities such as Paramount Players. The award-winning and critically acclaimed television that JCE has produced includes miniseries—”The New Edition Story” and “The Bobby Brown Story;” scripted series—”American Soul” and “Real Husbands of Hollywood;” unscripted series – “Cardi Tries;” talk show – “Face to Face with Becky G;” Emmy Award winning children’s series—”Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices;” award shows—”BET Awards,” “Black Girls Rock!,” “BET Honors,” “UNCF’s An Evening of Stars,” “BET Hip Hop Awards,” “ABFF Honors” and “Soul Train Awards;” specials—”John Lewis: Celebrating A Hero,” “Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration,” “Change Together: From The March On Washington To Today,” “Stand Up for Heroes,” “Dear Mama,” “Amanda Seales: I Be Knowin’,” “Def Comedy Jam 25” and “Leslie Jones: Time Machine;” as well as competition/game shows—”Sunday Best,” “Hip Hop Squares,” “Nashville Squares” and “Rhythm & Flow.” Jesse Collins, founder and CEO of the company, is the executive producer of all programming. He is also an executive producer for the iconic “Grammy Awards” and “The Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show” and also produced The 2021 “Academy Awards.” He will next executive produce the 2021 “American Music Awards.” Go to jessecollinsent.com for more information on the company.
ABOUT THE APOLLO
The non-profit Apollo is a performing arts presenter, commissioner, and collaborator that also produces festivals and large-scale dance and musical works organized around a set of core initiatives that celebrate and extend the Apollo’s legacy through a contemporary lens, including the world premiere of the theatrical adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me and the New York premiere of the opera We Shall Not Be Moved; special programs such as the blockbuster concert Bruno Mars Live at the Apollo; 100: The Apollo Celebrates Ella; the annual Africa Now! Festival; bi-annual Women of the World (WOW) Festival; as well as other multidisciplinary collaborations with partner organizations. Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo has served as a testing ground for new artists working across a variety of art forms and has ushered in the emergence of many new musical genres—including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop. Among the countless legendary performers who launched their careers at the Apollo are Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, H.E.R., D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Machine Gun Kelly, and Miri Ben Ari; and the Apollo’s forward-looking artistic vision continues to build on this legacy. For more information about the Apollo, visit www.ApolloTheater.org.
ABOUT SOUL TRAIN
“Soul Train” was created in 1971 by visionary Don Cornelius and predominantly featured performances by R&B, pop, soul, and hip-hop artists, in addition to the occasional funk, jazz, disco, and gospel artists. When the final episode of the show’s historic thirty-five-year run aired in 2006, it was the longest running first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history. “Soul Train” highlighted a cast of incredible, ethnically diverse dancers who famously introduced the world to a whole new series of dance moves and styles on a weekly basis. Cornelius opened every show welcoming the audience to “the hippest trip in America” and closed each show wishing the audience “love, peace and soul.” Today, the legacy of “Soul Train” lives on through the legendary Soul Train dance line, which has become a timeless staple on dance floors across America. In 2016, BET, acquired the “Soul Train” brand and remains dedicated to revitalizing the brand while also honoring its heritage.
ABOUT SOUL TRAIN HOLDINGS
SOUL TRAIN HOLDINGS, LLC was formed in May 2008 and is owned by InterMedia Partners and a partnership between Magic Johnson Enterprises and Ron Burkle's investment firm, The Yucaipa Companies. The iconic franchise and catalog consists of more than 1,100 episodes and 40 specials from Don Cornelius Productions, Inc. Soul Train is the longest running, first-run, nationally syndicated music program in television history. During its 35-year run, the show featured lasting innovations such as the Soul Train line and the legendary sign off “Love, Peace and Soul.” At the heart of the show was Don Cornelius, the dancers and influential artists such as James Brown, Al Green, Ike & Tina Turner, Hall & Oates, Donna Summer, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Whitney Houston, David Bowie, Prince, Run D.M.C. and Destiny’s Child.
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