In its 26th year, the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is more star-studded than ever, with a robust lineup of Black film and television stars and creators.
After two years of COVID-related pivots, the festival returns to South Beach in Miami for a five-day engagement full of special screenings, panel discussions and events celebrating the Black film and television community. Among the talent joining ABFF festival ambassador Issa Rae, who will debut her new HBO Max series “Rap Sh!t” at the festival, are Chanté Adams, Yahya Abdul- Mateen II, Kenya Barris, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Ben Crump, Michael Ealy, DeVon Franklin, Kasi Lemmons, Judge Greg Mathis, LisaRaye McCoy, Kyla Pratt, Trevante Rhodes, Kendrick Sampson, Robin Thede, Judge Lynn Toler, Susan Kelechi Watson and Salli Richardson Whitfield, among many others.
“We are thrilled to have the support of the industry with so much content targeted towards Black audiences,” said Nicole Friday, ABFF Ventures LLC president and general manager. “For 26 years, we have provided a platform for Black creatives to deliver provocative conversations and compelling entertainment to our community. This year’s ABFF will be no different with our live and virtual programming.”
The festival runs from June 15-19 in Miami, followed by a virtual segment from June 20-30, which will feature more conversations, casting calls, networking events and live-streamed content.
The in-person program begins with a special screening of the Netflix documentary “Civil,” an intimate verité look at the life of maverick civil rights attorney Ben Crump, directed by award-winning filmmaker Nadia Hallgren, who also produced the film alongside Barris, Roger Ross Williams and Lauren Cioffi.
Other highlights include the “Leading Man” panel, sponsored by Cadillac, which features Ealy, Abdul-Mateen and Rhodes discussing their roles in Hollywood and their journey to becoming leading men. The “Fierce Female Filmmakers” discussion features Prince-Bythewood and Lemmons as they preview their upcoming movies “The Woman King” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” respectively, in a conversation with TriStar Pictures president Nicole Brown.
Also on the program is a clips and conversations spotlight of Peacock’s “Bel-Air”; a celebration of the final season of NBC’s “This Is Us”; the “Bust Down in Laughter With NBCU’s Comedy Crew” panel, which features cast members from Peacock’s “Bust Down” and NBC’s “Grand Crew”; and Prime Video’s “Leading From Within” panel, which features three Black women executives discussing the company’s push to create inclusive and representative content across series and features.
Other spotlight screenings include “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” (courtesy of Disney+); the documentary “Aftershock” (Disney’s Onyx Collective); “Down With the King” (Sony); BET HER’s “Her Stories”; “Stranger Next Door” (TV One); the documentary “Right to Offend: The Black Comedy Revolution” (A&E Networks); “After Jackie” (The History Channel and SpringHill Company); a look at Season 6 of “Black Love” (Confluential Films) and “A League of Their Own” (Prime Video).
The “Best of the ABFF Awards” will be held on June 18, where the 2022 independent film awards and talent contest winners will be presented. The event will be hosted by Dondré Whitfield.
For the closing night screening, Rae will debut “Rap Sh!t,” which follows two estranged high school friends from Miami, Shawna (Aida Osman) and Mia (KaMillion), who reunite to form a rap group. The special event is presented courtesy of Warner Bros. Discovery and HBO Max.
All live events are held in and around South Beach including at the Regal South Beach, the New World Center Performance Hall, the Bass Museum and the Black Archives Historic Lyric Theatre.
The full schedule of talk series, panels and events can be found at www.ABFF.com. All virtual events will be available on ABFF Play.