*The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) took over Miami this past weekend, with some of the hottest films out for the first time, including the world premiere of Kevin Hart’s “Let Me Explain.” From the seminars and screenings to the sponsor dinners and parties, Jeff Friday and his crew rocked out and showed the world what it means to be Black and proud in the industry.
This is what you missed:
Opening night kicked off with George Tillman’s “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete,” a film about two urban youth who are left to fend for themselves over the summer after law enforcement takes their mothers away.
To lighten up the evening a bit, Cadillac hosted a fabulous poolside social at the luxurious boutique hotel, SLS. Guests and VIP’s strutted down the red carpet and enjoyed drinks with the execs at Cadillac. Attendees also had the chance to check out the 2013 Cadillac ATS, a sleek luxury class vehicle with all the best features the brand has to offer, including a roomy cabin, smooth ride, and of course the same sophisticated style we’re used to from the brand.
Throughout the weekend attendees, which ranged from movie goers, indie film fans, actors, directors and media gurus, had the chance to enjoy a slew of exclusive and informative seminars and discussions.
Bill Duke hosted a festival long Actor’s Boot Camp that is rumored to kick butt. Other sessions included screen writing, industry how-to, and voiceover workshops.
This year, Friday added the ABFF Webisode Challenge, a film competition between new filmmakers utilizing the Internet to share their art.
One of the big highlights of the weekend was the HBO short film competition. For the first time ever, two female directors made it as finalists.
In the end, however, director and filmmaker, Steven Caple, Jr. for “A Different Tree” won the top prize of $10,000. The story is of an eight-year-old girl’s journey as she builds a new relationship with her absent father, all sparked by a class assignment to build a family tree.
See the full list of winners below.
Also, a few of the cast members of the new “Best Man” chatted about their careers and the film just a bit, not enough to give out any secrets during a Q&A session about the upcoming flick. But one thing is for sure; we did find out that “Best Man 2” almost wasn’t going to be a film. The studio execs thought there wasn’t an audience for the story. But in the end, they were wrong.
Regina King sat down for an ‘intimate’ chat during an American Airlines sponsored event. True to herself, she talked about life as a mother, actress and moved the audience to applause when she admitted that it is her responsibility to represent the best of who she is and her community as a public figure. And if you are wondering about her love life, the only man in Regina’s heart right now is her 17-year-old son. It was definitely a conversation not to be missed.
ABFF closed out with a bang with the world premiere of Kevin Hart’s stand up comedy movie, “Let Me Explain.” The movie as a whole was a bit choppy with harsh cuts and disconnected themes, but the meat of it all was hilarious. But what seemed to be the most significant part of the evening happened on stage, when no cameras were rolling and only the people at the Olympic Theater would ever witness.
Kevin spoke eloquently about how social media has made his career as outstanding as it has become, while tweeting to his thousands of Twitter followers. His comedy, his message, his personality has reached across seas to people who had never seen his movies.
He also divulged to the audience, a more serious side, that it is important for Black people to support Black art, pointing to Tyler Perry as a North Star. By the way, Spike Lee was in the room… we wonder what he was thinking during the public praise of his sworn enemy. Kevin got deep and encouraged the audience that being a success is possible with the support of the Black community.
After the Miami Heat took the trophy home this year, it was no surprise LeBron James and Dwayne Wade were in attendance as well.
Following the premiere of his movie, aching sides, and uproarious applause, everyone was welcome to the after party at Miami’s Club Play, where celebrity spotting was in full effect.
Overall, ABFF was big and looks like it’s getting bigger. The festival is currently in its 17th year. Jeff Friday’s probably got something brewing for the years leading up to the 20th. Stay tuned for updates.
HBO Short Film Competition Winner
“A Different Tree”
Written by: Victoria Rose
Directed by: Steven Caple Jr.
Star Project Best Female
Star Project Best Male
Faith & Family Screenplay Competition Award
“Mary Jo’s Candy”
Written by: Keronda ‘Kiki’ McKnight
Written by: Christine Turner
Written by: Jeanine Daniels
Directed by: Dennis Dortch
“Things Never Said”
Written by: Charles Murray
Stephen Lloyd Jackson
For “Sable Fable”
Best Narrative Feature
Written by: Stephen Lloyd
Directed by: Stephen Lloyd
ABFF Audience Award
“Things Never Said”
Written by: Charles Murray
Directed by: Charles Murray
ABFF Comedy Wings, presented by HBO