New cabler showcases black filmmakers in "ABFF Independent"

With its official on-air launch coming Wednesday, new cable network Aspire has announced its first original series, “ABFF Independent.”

The weekly two-hour show, hosted by Omari Hardwick, will serve as a showcase of feature films, documentaries and shorts from emerging black filmmakers. Title refers to the American Black Film Festival.

Though it will typically air new installments at 8 p.m. Mondays, “ABFF Independent” will debut on Wednesday, when Aspire goes on the air.

Aspire general manager Paul Butler, who was named to the post in May, said the series will “provide an outlet for some of the most creative and talented new voices in cinema to receive much-deserved national exposure.”

Among the projects to be featured on initial episodes of “ABFF Independent”:

• Kena Tangi Dorsey-directed “Jump the Broom: A Musical,” about a young bride confronted by an ex-lover on her wedding day.

• David Canady’s “Weekends in Brooklyn,” about a relationship in Brooklyn complicated by an unexpected pregnancy.

• Nefertite Nguvu’s “I Want You,” a whirlwind romance told through poetry.

• Another Dorsey endeavor, “Sistahs in the Name of Love,” about tensions between two sisters during a family visit.

• Pamela K. Johnson’s “Stitches,” about a teen displaced by Hurricane Katrina who has to adjust to living with a roommate.

• Dave Coleman’s “Father’s Day,” about a young girl who has to deal with an absent father.

Jeff Friday is exec producing “ABFF Independent” with Sean Joell Johnson and Ralph Scott of LeftCenter Entertainment.

Aspire is moving quickly to get on the air, its creation having only been announced four months ago. Backed by chairman of the board Magic Johnson in partnership with Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa, Aspire will be carried by Comcast across its systems, as part of fulfilling its pledge during merger negotiations with NBC Universal to add 10 indie outlets over the next eight years. The cabler plans to target African-American viewers with original and acquired programming.

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