Fox Searchlight Pictures & Cinereach “BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD” continues its magical journey opening Film Life’s 16th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF)

Closing the festival is the premiere of the 2011 gmc Faith and Family screenplay competition winner “Raising Izzie”

NEW YORK, NY, June 4, 2012 – Film Life, Inc., today announced its opening and closing films for the 16th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) held in Miami Beach, FL, June 20 – 23. This year, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” will open the festival on Wednesday, June 20, while “Raising Izzie,” which was the winner of the 2011 gmc Faith and Family Screenplay Competition, will close out the festival on Saturday, June 23.

“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” has been the most talked about film coming out of both Sundance and the Cannes Film Festival. Earlier this year, the film took Sundance by storm after earning the coveted Grand Jury Prize, along with the cinematography award for Ben Richardson and most recently won one of the highest honors at Cannes, the Caméra d’Or award, for best first film. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is set in a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee where a six-year-old girl exists on the brink of orphanhood. Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions.

The film, helmed by first-time feature director Benh Zeitlin, stars a cast of non-actors whose portrayals of the characters has captured attention and critical acclaim from audiences as well as the filmmaking community around the world.

ABFF’s closing film, “Raising Izzie,” was the winner of the 2011 gmc Faith and Family screenplay competition. Starring Vanessa Williams (“Lincoln Heights,” “Soul Food”), and Rockmond Dunbar (“Soul Food”), “Raising Izzie” centers on a pair of sisters who have lost their mother and are forced to become each other’s ally in an adult world. Unable to maintain this new set of circumstances, a loving teacher unexpectedly comes into their lives changing everything around them.

The producer and director of “Raising Izzie,” Roger M. Bobb (“Meet the Browns,” “For Colored Girls”), makes his feature film directorial debut with this film. Bobb is also a two-time ABFF past award winner in the “Best Film” category.

Full pass and ticket information for the 2012 ABFF can be found at

HBO (Founding and Premier Sponsor); Gold Peak Tea (Premier); gmc Television Network, American Airlines, Cadillac, CNN and Ciroc (Official Sponsors); Grab Media, NBCUniversal, Nickelodeon, smartwater, Nielsen, BET Networks, Stella Artois and Wells Fargo (Supporting Sponsors); The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Miami Beach Visitor & Convention Authority and Miami Community Redevelopment Agency (Host Sponsors) and SAGIndie, One Village Entertainment, Miami Film Month, thirdREEL (Promotional Partners); Media Sponsors include: Black Enterprise, Uptown (Official Level); Jones Magazine and Precious Times (Supporting Level).

Established in 1997, the core mission of the ABFF is to promote cultural diversity within the motion picture industry. Through its film showcases and special contests, it annually introduces the top echelon of emerging artists to the film and television industry.

The ABFF is a property of Film Life, Inc., a New York-based event marketing, production and film distribution company founded in 2000 by Jeff Friday (CEO). For full details on this year’s festival, please visit

For photos of the ABFF Opening and Closing films, please visit:

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For media inquiries, contact Lisa Sorensen at 646-330-5458 or