*From September 17 through the 21 the Urbanworld Film Festival rolled through New York City with some of the highest-quality creative offerings by people whose backgrounds ran the gamut of the American sociological experiment and those wonderful differences were on full display on a nightly basis.
In its 18th year, the Urbanworld Film Festival’s considerably clout continues to expand exponentially as works from such directors as Ava Duvernay, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Billie Woodruff garnered standing ovations and uproarious adulation from those who were lucky enough to catch a glimpse at their upcoming works.
On Thursday, September 18, director Gina Prince-Bythewood, husband Reggie “Rock” Bythewood took place in a Q&A session moderated by director Malcolm Lee following a screening for the upcoming film Beyond the Lights, starring Nate Parker, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Minnie Driver. Beyond the Lights is so relevant in this age of hyper-sexualized young pop stars and strikes to the heart of many other issues as well including; self-respect and mental health among young women of color in America and across the globe.
On Friday, September 19, critically-acclaimed novelist Zane screened clips from her steamy cinematic offering Addicted-which is based on her novel “Addict.” Directed by Billie Woodruff, Addicted is rife with beautiful people locked in a struggle against their better instincts. It stars Boris Kodjoe, Sharon Leal, Tyson Beckford, William Levy and Emayatzy Corinealdi. During the uproarious Q&A session the screening of several of the film’s steamier scenes, Kodjoe, Beckford and Levy jokingly took one another to task over whose sex appeal permeated through the audience’s female fan base the most. Zane herself was as naughty as the male cast members in giving naughty little anecdotes regarding her own appetites. Laughter and levity were the primary themes of the evening.
On Saturday, September 20, director Ava Duvernay and actor David Oyewole were on hand to discuss the highly-anticipated film Selma in a Q&A session with Urbanworld Executive Producer Gabrielle Glore. Though director Ava Duvernay dominated the room with her infectious positive energy, David Oyewole cried tears of joy as audience members showered him with applauds after watching two powerful scenes from Selma. Some are calling Oyewole’s appearance Oscar worthy solely on the strength of that clip. He became MLK in diction, dimensions and conviction.
Addicted will be released in October, Beyond the Lights is scheduled to hit theaters in November, while Ava Duvernay’s Selma is slated to hit theaters on December 25th.
Check out the video recap of the Addicted Q&A session below.
On Sunday, the UWFF announced the best of the best. After all, this is the largest competitive festival of its kind in the nation. Below are this year’s talented winners.
*Best Screenplay – NOOR written by Nijla Baseema Mu’min
*Best Feature Documentary – Lucky directed by Laura Checkoway
*Best Narrative Short – Pitahaya directed by Albert Espinosa
*Best Narrative Feature (U.S. Cinema) – Lake Los Angeles directed by Mike Ott
*Best Narrative Feature (World Cinema) – Los Angeles directed by Damian John Harper
*Audience Award Winner Best Feature – In The Morning directed by Nefertite Nguvu
*Audience Award Winner Best Short – Sketch directed by Stephen T. Barton