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Four vie for cash prize at Film Life

Lee's 'Jesus' to preem at Black fest

MIAMI — The ninth annual Film Life & HBO American Black Festival opens today with a program of five features in the main section, five shorts and five docus.

Just three narrative features — Bernard Gourley and P. Miller’s “Uncle P,” Charles Randolph Wright’s “On the One” and Lisa France’s “Love and Suicide” — and Gerald K. Barclay’s docu “Liberia: The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here” — are competing for the grand jury prize, presented by Kodak. Entries are all world premieres; winner will get $20,000 in film stock.

Jury will also name winners for the short film nod, which carries a cash prize of $20,000 sponsored by HBO, and docu kudos, which comes with $10,000, sponsored by Wal-Mart.

Aud vote will determine the winner of the narrative feature prize, which carries another $20,000 cash prize courtesy of Blockbuster.

Festival includes a world-cinema section comprising another eight narrative features and docus, including some works-in-progress.

Six special screenings of short and feature-length films include the world preem of Spike Lee’s “Jesus Children of America,” a 20-minute short about a Brooklyn teen who learns she was born HIV-positive.

Fest will honor producer Warrington Hudlin with the Melvin Van Peebles Trailblazer Award and present helmer Mario Van Peebles with the filmmaker trophy for director of the year at the film awards ceremony on Saturday.

Positioned as a film retreat, fest holds workshops, panel discussions and symposiums in addition to film screenings. Scheduled speakers include Ice Cube, Spike Lee and Antoine Fuqua.

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