*On January 8, 2012, some of the industry’s finest actors, producer and directors will be honored at the African American Film Critics Association Awards ceremony. Among those to be recognized include actors Richard Roundtree and Hattie Winston, along with filmmaker George Lucas.

“AAFCA is thrilled and honored to bestow recognition to an incredible group of honorees this year,” says Gil Robertson IV, founder and president of the organization. “These individuals and institutions have transformed the face of the cinematic arts.”

Richard Roundtree, who will receive the 2011 Legacy Award, forever changed pop culture with his portrayal of private detective John Shaft in 1971. With his subsequent roles in films that includes the “Shaft” series and “Roots,” Roundtree helped to expand the way men of color are seen in contemporary cinema.

Similarly, actress Hattie Winston blazed a trail for African American actresses when she became the first black woman to appear in a nationally televised commercial. A member of the famed Negro Ensemble Company, Winston rose to prominence as a member of the cast of the Electric Company. As the 2011 Horizon Award honoree, Ms. Winston’s diverse body of work in film, theatre and music has paved the way for African-American actresses in all three genres.

Filmmaker George Lucas, is internationally-known as the creative force responsible for the hugely successful “Star Wars” franchise. As the recipient of the 2011 Cinema Vanguard Award, Lucas remains an influential and innovative presence in cinema. His upcoming film “Red Tails,” tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen.

AAFCA’s first Special Achievement Award in the studio category will be presented to Sony Pictures Entertainment, an entertainment powerhouse who has been lighting up film screens around the world for nearly a century. With its rich film library that includes black cinema gems like, “A Raisin in the Sun,” ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, “ “Boys in the Hood,” “Ali” and “The Pursuit of Happyness,”  Sony Pictures Entertainment as an industry leader in creativity and diversity.

The winners of the 2011 AAFCA AWARDS will be announced on Monday, December 12th and the accolades will be formally presented at the January red carpet ceremony hosted by veteran entertainment journalist Kevin Frazier (The Insider). In addition to the special achievement awards, the ceremony will also reveal AAFCA’s Top Ten List, in addition to awards in several categories, including Best Actor/Actress, Best Supporting Actor/Actress, Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay.

“Cinema is the world’s most important art form and AAFCA is proud to celebrate the many talented individuals who contribute to its worth, ” says Robertson. “It’s truly an honor to produce this show, which not only rewards quality in filmmaking in general, but also recognizes the valuable contributions made by individuals to this powerful art form.”

AAFCA comprises respected journalists, academic scholars and industry professionals, who screen, review and provide commentary on film at-large, but who also highlight films that are inclusive of the black experience in America – in-front of and behind-the-camera.

For more information about AAFCA or the 2011 AAFCA AWARDS, visit www.aafca.com.