The 20th American Black Film Festival Will Screen a Wide and Diverse Selection of Narratives, Documentaries, Short Films and Webisodes in Miami, June 15-19

  • Official Selections



New York, New York (June 1, 2016) – The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) announced today the lineup of over 25 narrative features, web originals, short films and documentaries that will be showcased at the Olympia Theater, Colony Theatre and Regal Cinemas in Miami Beach, Florida, June 15-19.

Director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s Central Intelligence, presented by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures, will make its debut at the festival opening night, Wednesday, June 15, at 7:45 p.m. at the Olympia Theater, located at 174 East Flagler Street. Starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, the action comedy is one of the most talked about film releases of the 2016 summer season. The film also stars Amy Ryan, Aaron Paul and Danielle Nicolet.

The films in this year’s competition will be voted on by a prestigious group of industry tastemakers, executives and filmmakers, led by jury president, actor Omari Hardwick.

The 2016 ABFF selection of narratives, web originals, shorts and documentaries showcases diverse content creators, exploring a broad range of topics including love, sex, race, self-identity, politics, relationships, crime and fame.

“This year’s films not only reflect diverse storytelling and diversity within the Black experience, but also the technological advances of the times — from the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, to a narrative feature film shot entirely on the iPhone 6s. We have people coming from all around the nation to support the work of these talented filmmakers, and we hope that the local community will take part in ABFF as well,” said Jeff Friday, ABFF CEO and Founder.

The complete list of films selected for the Narrative Features, Web Originals and Documentary sections, as well as the HBO® Short Film Competition is as follows:


Sponsored by the Motion Picture Association of America
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber, Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen
Producers: Scott Stuber, Peter Principato, Paul Young, Michael Fottrell
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Aaron Paul, Danielle Nicolet

“Central Intelligence” follows a one-time bullied geek, Bob (Dwayne Johnson), who grew up to be a lethal CIA agent, coming home for his high school reunion. Claiming to be on a top-secret case, Bob enlists the help of former “big man on campus,” Calvin (Kevin Hart), now an accountant who misses his glory days. But before the staid numbers-cruncher realizes what he’s getting into, it’s too late to get out, as his increasingly unpredictable new friend drags him through a world of shoot-outs, double-crosses and espionage that could get them both killed in more ways than Calvin can count.


Writer/Director: Qasim Basir
Producers: Tommy Oliver, Rick Rosenthal, Matt Ratner
Cast: Cory Hardrict, Jesse Metcalfe, Margot Bingham, Robert Christopher Riley, Zulay Henao, Jason Dohring, Mo McRae, La La Anthony, Hill Harper, James McCaffrey, Curtiss Cook

“Destined” tells the parallel stories of Sheed and Rasheed (Cory Hardrict) as they explore the idea of destiny as well as how the smallest incident can become a life-changing event.

Writer/Director: Nnegest Likké
Producers: Nnegest Likké, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Steven J. Wolfe
Cast: Monica Calhoun, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Camille Winbush

A successful career woman has a life-changing romance with a mysterious man from another culture, whose radical lifestyle differences challenge her perspective on love, relationships and what it means to be a “strong” woman.

Director: Paris Bauldwin
Writer: Paris Bauldwin
Producers: Paris Bauldwin, Kenny Lofton, Brenton Earley
Cast: Meta Golding, Eric Roberts, Asia Queen, Nicole Steinwedell, Blaine Gray, Jeremy Suarez, Sean O’Bryan, Timon Kyle Durrett, Jeremy Luke

Abigail witnesses the shooting of an unarmed teen by an LAPD officer, with whom she is carrying on an affair. To further complicate things, a teenaged girl appears claiming to be the daughter Abigail gave away at birth.

Director: Tahir Jetter
Writer: Tahir Jetter
Producers: Julius Pryor, Marttise Hill, Tahir Jetter
Cast: Charles Brice, DeWanda Wise, Jenna Williams, William Jackson Harper, Tonye Patano, Alexander Mulzac

A womanizer falls in love in this modern romantic comedy about chauvinism, courtship and millennial woes.

SERVICE TO MAN *World Premiere
Directors: Aaron Greer, Seth Panitch
Writer: Seth Panitch
Producers: Aaron Greer, Seth Panitch
Cast: Morgan Auld, Christopher Livingston, Lamman Rucker, Keith David

Two outsiders from radically different backgrounds struggle to find a common purpose within the pressure cooker of Nashville’s all-black medical school in the 1960s.


Director: Ben Caird
Writer: Ben Caird
Producer: Jonny Paterson
Cast: Quinton Aaron, Jeffrey DeMunn, Gillian Zinser, Amy Pietz, TJ Power, Marcus Henderson

A recently released convict finds himself trapped between his urban criminal past and his new life on probation as the only back man in a conservative, white Wisconsin farming town.

Director: Matthew A. Cherry
Writer: Matthew A. Cherry
Producers: Jerome Caldwell, Matthew Keene Smith, Datari Turner, Monica Young, Natasha Ward, Jaia Thomas, R. Vaughn Gill
Cast: Dorian Missick, Omar J. Dorsey, Robinne Lee, Xosha Roquemore, Amin Joseph, Thomas Q. Jones, Skye P. Marshall, Aasha Davis, Sujata Day, Tracie Thoms

On the busiest night of the year, an Uber driver in Los Angeles gets life-changing news.

FINDING HER *U.S. Premiere
Director: Vlad Feier
Writers: Vlad Feier, Peter Gutter
Producers: Vlad Feier, Ana Paula Rivera, Regina Bang
Cast: Johnny Whitworth, Maurice McRae, Afton Williamson, Jeremy Holm, Larry Pine, Danny Johnson

Monique Watson goes missing. Police are not doing anything to find a lead. The mission drops on the desk of journalist Christian Baker.

Director: Desmond Faison
Writer: Desmond Faison
Producer: Jahmela Biggs
Cast: Deji LaRay, Tracey Dukes, Wade Maurice Johnson, Jr., Robert Davis, Jahmela Biggs, Rome Green, Jr., Amanuel Richards, Shayla Hale, Billy Mayo

Childhood friends turned adult drug dealers struggle to define what’s next in their strained friendship. Anything but typical, “Killing Lazarus” is unlike anything you’ve seen.

Director: Juwan Lee
Writers: Juwan Lee, Jamal Hill
Producers: Jamal Hill, Kia Hicks Freeman, Gregory Freeman
Cast: Harold Moore, Denyce Lawton, Denise Boutte, Dennis White, Tobias Truvillion

When a successful businessman has a sexual appetite larger than what’s on his plate at home, chaos erupts. Tarron’s irresistible co-worker serves it up, while his wife, who’s ironically named Secret, releases a few secrets of her own.

ILLICIT *World Premiere
Director: Corey Grant
Writers: Corey Grant, Lanett Tachel
Producers: Kevin Fleming, Lanett Tachel Corey Grant, McKinley Freeman, David Ramsey
Cast: David Ramsey, Shireen Crutchfield, McKinley Freeman, Michele Weaver, Lanett Tachel, Dean Cain, Vivica A. Fox, Dionne Gipson, Michael Monks, Essence Atkins, Vincent A. Ward, Sade Kimora Young, Durrell “Tank” Babbs, Charlie Farrell, Adam Senn

Sasha and Guy’s marriage is tested when they are independently seduced by sexy, young lovers, both with dark pasts and hidden nefarious agendas.


*A panel of HBO executives will judge the final entries during the festival. A grand prize of $10,000 will be awarded by HBO to one filmmaker at the ABFF Awards on June 16, 2016, with runners-up each receiving $5,000. All finalists will have the opportunity to have their entries licensed by HBO for exhibition on the HBO service, HBO Go, and HBO Now.

THE BIG CHOP *World Premiere
Director: Derek Dow
Writer: Alisha Cowan
Producer: Katrelle Kindred, Cayman Grant
Cast: Simone Missick, Chinedu Unaka, McKenzie Franklin, Kevin Kilumbu

“The Big Chop” takes a look inside the world of natural hair, following a child’s once positive outlook on her hair, through to her adult years, when her perspective is shaken by negative hints from peers, family and media.

FLOWERS *World Premiere
Directors: Nikyatu Jusu, Yvonne M. Shirley
Writers: Nikyatu Jusu, Yvonne M. Shirley
Producers: Nikyatu Jusu, Yvonne M. Shirley
Cast: Amee Apedo, Belle LeGrand, Grant Tambellini

When Brooklyn teens Mya and Erin seek revenge on a teacher their well-calculated plans quickly spiral out of control.

GUBAGUDE KO (Blood Is Upon Them) *World Premiere
Director: Philiane Phang
Writer: Philiane Phang
Producers: Annick Jaegy
Cast: Mahershala Ali, Erica Tazel

A man witnesses a young woman’s rape and experiences the guilt of his inaction.

ON TIME *World Premiere
Director: Xavier Burgin
Writers: Xavier Burgin, Tiara Marshall
Producers: Tony Ducret, Kendra Cole, Tim Astor, Angelica Lopez
Cast: Inger Tudor, Araija DaCosta, Kevin Craig West, John Marrot, Louis Baker, Jordana Berliner, Amani Starnes

Renee Johnson, a mother living in South Central LA, must make a difficult decision when she’s late for her job interview.

UGLY *World Premiere
Director: LeRon Lee
Writer: LeRon Lee
Producer: Derrick Williams
Cast: Devon Moyd, Andrea-Rachel Parker, Jamal Steven Defreitas, Jo Lee, Kevin Bennett, Jr.

A coming-of-age story about a boy looking for love in the wrong place…his own environment.


Director: Lopez Williams
Writer/Creator: Kimberly Young
Producers: Lopez Williams, Kimberly Young, Morris Young, Richard Monroe, Lori Stewart Tannis, Sam Baumel
Cast: Kimberly Young, DJ Cipha Sounds, Nate Gill, Carmen Lynch, Sharron Paul, Jourdan Guyton, Jared Prudoff-Smith, Lauren Besser, Gibran Saleem, Godfrey Taylor, Jr., Sue Berch

In “2 Self Help Books Away from Perfect,” we follow Kimmy Monroe, a bright-eyed Brooklynite who, through a series of hilarious and sometimes awkward events, learns that finding true love first begins by accepting one’s true self.

Director: William Alexander Runnels
Writers: Andrea Lewis, Austin Hall
Producers: Andrea Lewis, Brian Walker, Essence Atkins, Tatyana Ali
Cast: Andrea Lewis, Allison Edwards Crewe, Rob Vincent, Tristan Wilds

“Black Actress” is a scripted meets documentary style series. Every episode opens with the testimony of a celebrity Black actress, while viewers get to follow the life of Kori Bailey (Andrea Lewis), a struggling Black actress living in New York City, who desperately needs to get out of her own way.

Director: Talibah Newman
Writers: Talibah Newman, Uzo Ometu
Producers: Talibah Newman, Uzo Ometu
Cast: Angela Wildflower, Justin Sams, Shana Solomon, Laci Mosley, Andre Columbus

Samantha, a newly divorced political consultant, tries to get her love life back in order, only to find men, friends and her career getting in the way of finding true love.

Directors: Amanda Seales, James Bland
Writers: Amanda Seales, Steven Chew
Producers: Amanda Seales, Issa Rae, Benoni Tagoe, Quan Lateef-Hill, Marshon Thomas
Cast: Amanda Seales, Lil Rel, Godfrey, Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji, BT Kingsley, Tehran

“Get Your Life” is an edgy scripted comedy about the very non-scripted life of comedian/actress Amanda Seales and her continuing effort to keep it real and find the funny amidst dating cornballs, Hollywood BS and being a new New Yorker to Los Angeles.

Director: Cheo Tyehimba Taylor
Writer: Cheo Tyehimba Taylor
Producers: Christopher Chatmon, Judd Flemming, Shaka Jamal
Cast: Christopher Chatmon, Jerome Gourdine, Baayan Bakari, Jahi, AAMA students

“Kingmakers of Oakland” follows the teachers and students of OUSD during the 2015-16 school year as they overcome obstacles both at school and home, and redefine what it means to be a “king.”

Directors: Christian Mazza, Jimmy Shelton, Justine Bo
Writers: Antonia Hylton, Darnell Moore, Jimmy Shelton
Producers: Antonia Hylton, Regina Delea, John Lagomarsino

“The Movement” is an original docuseries that explores the work of individuals fighting to reclaim and recover marginalized communities and spaces across America.


Director: Emily Abt, Andrew Osborne
Writer: Emily Abt
Producers: Emily Abt, Keryn Thompson, Suzette Burton, Omar Epps, Malik Yoba

“Daddy Don’t Go” explores the crisis of fatherlessness in America, documenting two years in the lives of four disadvantaged fathers in New York City as they fight to defy the odds against them. It provides compelling portraits of men who are unwavering in their commitment to parenthood despite the challenges they encounter.

Director/Writer: Aurora Ferlin
Producers: Monique Brown, Aurora Ferlin, Keith Cardwell, Ronnie Barron
Cast: Jim Brown, Monique Brown, Ray Lewis, John Wooten, Rockhead Johnson, Ronnie Barron, Aqeela Sherrills, Julian Mendoza, Tonie Jackson, Anthony Blanks, Jacques White-Barron

NFL legend Jim Brown forges an unlikely coalition with former convicts and gang members to stop the deadly wave of violence on America’s streets.

Director: Deborah Riley Draper
Writer: Deborah Riley Draper
Producer: Deborah Riley Draper
Executive Producer: Blair Underwood, Dr. Amy Tiemann, Michael Draper, Deborah Riley Draper
Cast: Isiah Thomas, Carl Lewis, Ambassador Andrew Young, Joanna Hayes, Dr. Tommie Smith, Anita DeFrantz

In 1936, when 18 African American athletes, dubbed the “black auxiliary” by Hitler, participated in the Berlin Olympic Games, defying Nazi Aryan supremacy and Jim Crow racism, history forgot all except one – Jesse Owens. This is the story of the other 17.

To purchase passes and tickets for events, panels and screenings at the American Black Film Festival, log on to

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Sponsors for the American Black Film Festival are HBO® (Founding and Presenting Sponsor), Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (Host and Presenting Sponsor), TV One, Cadillac, and McDonald’s (Presenting Sponsors); Apple, BET, Comcast NBCUniversal and Prudential (Platinum Sponsors); AARP, American Airlines, Coors Light, Kwesé Media, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Time Warner, and VH1 (Official Sponsors); Planned Parenthood of America, and TBS (Supporting Sponsor); 21st Century Fox, ABC, ASPiRE, Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment, CAA, CNN Original Series, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Motion Picture Editors Guild, RLJ Entertainment, SAGIndie, Walter Kaitz Foundation (Industry Partners); Black Enterprise, Ebony Magazine, MIA Magazine, Upscale and (Media Partners); and and The JDot Agency (Promotional Partners).

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is an annual event dedicated to showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent. The festival is committed to the belief that Black artists and content creators deserve the same opportunities as their mainstream counterparts. ABFF founder Jeff Friday, conceived the festival in 1997 as a vehicle to promote diversity in the motion picture industry, and strengthen the Black filmmaking community through resource sharing, education, artistic collaboration and career development. Today, the ABFF is recognized as the preeminent pipeline to new Black talent, both in front of and behind the camera, and is regarded as one of the leading film festivals in the world. The ABFF is a property of ABFF Ventures, LLC., which is a partnership between Film Life, Inc., and Black Enterprise.

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