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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 www.abff.com
It was, in fact the American Black Film Festivals HBO Short Film Competition that launched his career.

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