Urbanworld film fest sets slate

NEW YORK — Sixteen dramatic features and six documentaries have been selected to compete in the first annual Urbanworld Film Festival, which will be held from Aug. 20-24 in New York.

Designed to showcase the best of black cinema, the Urbanworld fest will be held in conjunction with the third annual Vibe music seminar. Sponsors include Vibe, Premiere, MovieFone, MTV Films, Absolut, the New York Times and Eastman Kodak.

“Being the first internationally competitive black film festival in the U.S., we are extremely excited by the overwhelming response UWFF has received in its first year from filmmakers and the film industry alike,” said Stacy Spikes, executive director.

Among the pics making their world premiere at the Urbanworld fest are:

“Cold Heart,” John Ridley’s film about the betrayal that occurs between two lovers following a robbery. The 20th Century Fox release (formerly known as “Cold Around the Heart”) stars Kelly Lynch, Stacy Dash and Chris Noth;

“Fakin’ Da’ Funk,” Tim Chey’s feature film debut about the identity crisis suffered by a Chinese-American after his black adopted family moves to South Central Los Angeles. Pic stars Chris Spencer, Pam Grier, Margaret Cho and Tone Loc;

“Straight from the Streets,” Keith O’Derek’s docu about the West Coast rap scene that features interviews with artists such as Ice T, Ice Cube, Cypress Hill, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre;

“A Woman Like That,” David Talbert’s feature directorial debut about a bumbling script reader trying to mend his broken heart. Pic stars Tyra Banks, N’Bushe Wright, Malik Yoba and John Amos.

One of the most anticipated screenings at the Urbanworld fest is “Jump the Gun,” the latest work from British director Les Blair, who has been making improvised films for TV and the cinema since the 1970s. “Jump” stars Baby Cele, Lionel Newton and Michele Burgers as workers struggling to define their place in South Africa’s post-apartheid society.

‘Soul’-ful ending

The closing-night film for the fest is “Soul Food,” George Tillman Jr.’s exploration of a tightly knit but embattled clan held together by a strong and caring matriarch. Produced by Kenneth (Babyface) Edmonds and Tracey Edmonds, the 20th Century Fox release stars Vanessa Williams, Vivica Fox and Nia Long.

Among the industry execs who will discuss the future of black independent film during the festival are the Shooting Gallery’s music director Barry Cole, “Sankofa” helmer Hailie Gerima, “Money Talks” director Brett Ratner and musicvideo director Hype Williams.

For more information concerning the festival, call 212-501-9668 or visit the website at http://www.uwff.com.

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