American Black Film Festival

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American Black Film Festival

Date Observed: Five days in July
Location: Miami/South Beach, Florida

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF), formerly known as the Acapulco Black Film Festival, is an annual five-day retreat and international film market held in Miami/South Beach, Florida. It aims to provide the most prestigious platform for Pan-African films garnered from around the world, competitively screening features, shorts, and documentaries from both known and rising industry talents.

Historical Background

In 1997, three men co-founded the Acapulco Black Film Festival. Jeff Friday (president and CEO of Film Life, Inc.), Bryon Lewis (chairman and CEO of UniWorld Group, Inc.), and Warrington Hudlin (president of the Black Filmmakers Foundation) united for a common purpose: to create a forum that would provide a springboard for black cinematic achievement while simultaneously broadening public perception of their accomplishments.

Creation of the Festival

The festival was held in Acapulco for its first five years. In 2002, Film Life, Inc. acquired sole rights to the festival, which was then renamed the American Black Film Festival. Since then, the festival has been held in the South Beach/Miami area of Florida.


Since its inception, ABBF has shown more than 350 films, including full features, shorts, and documentaries. Attendance in 2005 topped 2,500.

Both industry professionals and consumers are welcomed at the various events that include not only the film screenings but also workshops, seminars, lectures, classes, interactive discussions, and more. In an effort to fulfill its mission, the festival designs a week-long program to expose attendees to all facets of the industry. In doing so, the goal is to break down barriers to opportunity (for example, offer access for sharing talent resources and artistic guidance) and to debunk myths of minority marginalization and stereotyping.

The festival concludes with a gala awards ceremony at which independent film awards and cash prizes are announced. In 2005, for instance, the film On the One, directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, won best feature award and a cash prize of $20,000. At earlier festivals such celebrities as Spike Lee, Rosario Dawson, Russell Simmons, and Gabrielle Union have been honored.

Contacts and Web Sites

c/o Film Life P.O. Box 688 New York, NY 10012

Black Hollywood Education & Research Center 1875 Century Park E., Ste. 6th Fl. Los Angeles, CA 95067 310-284-3170; hotline: 323-957-4747; fax: 310-284-3169

Further Reading

"Filmmaker Spike Lee and Actress Rosario Dawson Honored at American Black Film Festival." Jet, August 16, 2004. Mottesheard, Ryan. "Urban Heats Up with ABFF; Miami-based Festival Increases Awareness for Segment." Daily Variety, July 11, 2005. "Russell Simmons and Gabrielle Union Saluted at American Black Film Festival." Jet, August 4, 2003.
African-American Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations, 1st ed. © Omnigraphics, Inc. 2007
References in periodicals archive ?
You'll also find, however, African Americans who have broken new ground in the once-exclusive arenas of film distribution and exhibition such as Jeff Friday, founder of the American Black Film Festival; Jeff Clanagan, creator of Codeblack Entertainment; Henry McGee, president of HBO Home Video; and Magic Johnson, the former basketball phenom who owns multiplex theaters in New York, California, Ohio, and other states.
I am an American Black Film Festival alumnus and appreciate Jeff Friday for all that he has done.
Since then, the organization, which today is the Film Life and HBO American Black Film Festival (ABFF), has grown into the premier showcase for black filmmakers.
The 26-year veteran is focused on expanding the pipeline of black talent in media, sponsoring such events as the Film Life and HBO American Black Film Festival.
To combat the lack of distribution outlets, Jeff Friday, founder and CEO of Film Life, spearheaded the creation of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) to showcase black films and to attract distribution executives from major film studios.
Two recent developments may change that: Code Black signed a deal with 20th Century Fox's FoxFaith to release up to a dozen faith-based films with theatrical distribution for at least six films a year; while Warner Home Video and Film Life, the organizers of the American Black Film Festival, signed a deal in July to release festival entries and other "urban" titles in DVD format, under a special ABFF label.
The film, written and directed by Maurice Jamal, stars Loretta Devine, Rockmond Dunbar, Jenifer Lewis, and Veronica Webb, and went on to win Best Feature Film at the American Black Film Festival. It tackles issues of homosexuality in African American families and churches.
Byron Lewis, founder, chairman, and CEO of UniWorld, and Warrington Hudlin, president of the Black Filmmakers Foundation, signed on and the three agreed to launch the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in 1997.
We want to have a pool of [film producers] 10 years from now who can say, 'I got my start at the American Black Film Festival.'"
9th Annual American Black Film Festival July 13-17, 2005; Miami;
American Black Film Festival July 14-18, 2004; Miami; 212-966-2411
It was, in fact the American Black Film Festivals HBO Short Film Competition that launched his career.

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