Will Smith-Starrer ‘King Richard’ to Open American Black Film Festival; Memorial Set for Producer Mark Harris – Film News in Brief

King Richard Will Smith
Anne Marie Fox

The 2021 American Black Film Festival (ABFF) will kickoff its milestone 25th anniversary with a special presentation of “King Richard,” where Will Smith stars as Richard Williams, the determined father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams.

The eagerly anticipated Warner Bros. movie will be made available to a limited audience by special invitation, screening as part of ABFF’s expanded 2021 festival, which runs virtually Nov. 3-28 via its online platform ABFF PLAY.

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green from a script by Zach Baylin, “King Richard” will be released in theaters and will stream on HBO Max on Nov. 19. Starring alongside Smith are Aunjanue Ellis as the girls’ mom, Oracene Wlliams, Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams and Demi Singleton as Serena Williams, plus Tony Goldwyn and Jon Bernthal as coaches Paul Cohen and Rick Macci.

“It is with pride and excitement that we mark our 25th year opening with Warner Bros.’ King Richard, a film that is a touchstone of ABFF’s legacy of showcasing extraordinary Black talent and inspiring storytelling reflecting the brilliance of diversity in Hollywood,” Nicole Friday, president and general manager, ABFF Ventures LLC, said in a statement.

“We’re especially gratified to have the film’s director, Reinaldo Marcus Green, a previous finalist in HBO’s prestigious Short Film Competition, return to ABFF as feature film director — demonstrating the importance of the HBO pipeline in advancing the careers of Black artists,” Nicole Friday continued. “This event is simply a grand slam on every level.”

Green called the film’s inclusion inclusion in the ABFF lineup “a full circle moment.”

“Back in 2013, my short film Stone Cars, that I made while studying at NYU screened in competition and was distributed on HBO — so opening up the festival for ABFF’s 25th anniversary means a lot to me,” the filmmaker explained. “It’s an absolute honor to return this year with our film. Thank you to Warner Bros. and the whole filmmaking team, the family we built on set, the Williams family for allowing us to tell their groundbreaking story and, of course, our wonderful crew and cast led by none other than Mr. Will Smith.”

The lineup for ABFF 2021 will include over 100 independent films from 35 countries, spotlight screenings, talks and networking events featuring creators, artists and industry executives. Access to the festival is free; for more details, visit https://abff.com.


Casting Society of America Sets 2022 Awards Date

The Casting Society of America (CSA) has announced March 17, 2022, for its annual Artios Awards. The annual celebration will also mark CSA’s 40th year.

Submissions for television, theater, short film, and short-form series are open through Oct. 18. The feature films’ submissions open on Dec. 3.

As previously announced, honorees for the Hoyt Bowers Award For Excellence In Casting, Lynn Stalmaster Award For Career Achievement, Marion Dougherty New York Apple Award, Rosalie Joseph Humanitarian Award, and the Associate Spotlight Award, will be presented that evening and honorees announced at a later date.

“We are planning for this year’s Artios Awards ceremony to be in person, pending the current Covid-19 situation in Los Angeles. It will be wonderful to see nominees, CSA members and supporters come together to celebrate the work of these outstanding casting directors. Last year’s ceremony, which was streamed virtually worldwide, was a tremendous success, and we will build upon that to create an incredible show.” said Kim Williams, president of the Casting Society of America.

Eligibility period is March 1. through Dec. 30. Final ballot opens Jan. 26 and closes Feb. 9


Memorial Service Set for Producer Mark Harris

A memorial celebration of life for “Crash” and “Gods and Monsters” producer Mark Harris, who died June 25 at 80, is set for Sunday, Oct. 17 at the Garry Marshall Theater. The event will run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. “We will come together in the courtyard (outside) at the Garry Marshall Theatre to celebrate Mark Harris: his loves, his legacy, his basketball prowess, and his incomparable road rage,” the event announcement reads. RSVP here to attend.

Art Directors Guild Sets 2022 Awards Date and Announces Submissions Guideline

Television and feature film submissions for the Art Directors Guild’s (ADG) 26th annual Excellence in Production Design awards are now open. The event returns live and in-person at the InterContinental L.A. downtown on March 5.

This year, the ADG awards will include 13 categories: Period films, fantasy films, contemporary films, animated films, TV one-hour period or fantasy series, TV one-hour contemporary series, TV movie or limited series, TV half-hour single camera series, TV multi-camera series, TV variety, reality or competition series, TV variety special, TV commercials, TV short format: Web series or music video.

Nominations will be announced on Jan. 24 2022

Gravitas Ventures Acquires North American Rights to ‘Welcome to the Show’

Gravitas Ventures announced they have acquired North American rights to Dorie Barton’s feature film, “Welcome to the Show,” and will release it through their hybrid distribution system composed of Comcast, Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, Apple TV, Dish, Google Play, Direct TV, and more at the end of the film’s film festival tour on Nov. 23.

“Welcome to the Show” begins when an invitation to a mysterious theatre piece, “The Show,” sends four best friends down a rabbit hole of mistrust and confusion.

Richard Follin, Dillon Douglasson, Keegan Garant and Christopher Martin star. Producers are Barton and S.C.V. Taylor.

Museum of Moving Image Launches An Open Invitation Call

Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) is launching an open call for nominations for the Marvels of Media awards — the first awards ceremony to celebrate neurodiversity.

In March of next year, MoMI will present a free, public film festival featuring selected works of honorees, followed by an awards ceremony. An accompanying media exhibit will share the artistry of these honorees, providing a perspective of media-making through the lens of autism.

Artists, designers and other creators working with film, media, TV, animation, game design and new media may self-nominate by submitting a media work or be nominated by a colleague or organization. The application is free and the deadline for entry is Jan. 31. More information can be found here.