Featuring Storytelling from Across the Globe by the Next Generation of Independent Black Filmmakers
LOS ANGELES, (May 22, 2023) – The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) announced today the selection of finalists who will compete in its Annual HBO® Short Film Award Showcase and Series and Voices of Culture lineup. The 27th annual ABFF will take place in Miami Beach June 14-18 and will be available to a global audience June 19-25 on ABFF PLAY (https://abffplay.com/).
“We have curated a diverse lineup of authentic stories created by talented artists that give visibility to Black creatives in the industry,” said Nicole Friday, president, COO ABFF Ventures and Festival Producer. “Over 25 years ago, we launched the HBO Short Film Award, spotlighting groundbreaking filmmakers and elevating Black content for mainstream audiences to experience. Many dynamic storytellers have been a part of the ABFF community, and we are proud to continue our legacy of showcasing gifted creators.”
Winners of the 2023 independent film awards and talent contest winners will be presented during the Best of the ABFF Awards hosted by Emmy-nominated actor/author Dondré Whitfield, Saturday, June 17, in the Miami Beach Convention Center. Sirius XM’s Bevy Smith (Bevelations) will host the HBO Showcase. ABFF is proud to be a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards® Short Film Awards.
The annual five-day festival, held in locations in and around Miami Beach and the City of Miami, will showcase a selection of exclusive programs from networks and streamers including spotlight screenings, conversations and panels with award-winning directors, producers and top-line talent. For a complete schedule of programming, full list official film selections and to purchase passes for the 2023 American Black Film Festival, visit www.abff.com. Follow @ABFF on Twitter, @AmericanBlackFilmFestival on Instagram and Facebook.
The HBO Short Film Award finalists, Web Series and Voices of Culture lineup is listed below.
HBO Short Film Award Showcase
Now in its 26th year, the HBO Short Film Award, sponsored by HBO and Warner Bros. Discovery, is regarded as one of the most prestigious short film showcases in the world. Five filmmakers are selected as finalists, one grand prize winner will be presented with the HBO Short Film Award and a cash prize of $10,000. The following films represent the finalists for the 2023 HBO Short Film Award.
As a successful radio DJ, Tracey made a career out of her love for music and its connection to the human experience. But when confronted with her mother’s illness, she is forced to reevaluate her own life. Divided between the hauntingly beautiful memories of her past, fears of the future and the painful realities of her present, she gives herself the ultimate challenge – a broadcast of reconciliation.
USA | 2023 | 20 minutes
Written by: Nakia Secrest
Directed by: Ric Serena
Jelly is a young Black girl in Bed-stuy with a peculiar fascination with death. While trying to solve the mysterious case of a missing neighbor, she comes to terms with a more personal disappearance. Narrated by André Holland.
USA | 2023 | 10 minutes
Written and Directed by: Anndi Jinelle Liggett
When one of the last free children of Junkyard Paradise has her brother stolen away from her, no ragamuffin army or vicious beasts will stop her from getting him back.
USA | 2023 | 20 minutes
Written and Directed by: c. Craig Patterson
After being evicted by his mother, a rebellious teen must adapt to life with his distant father and his father’s new family.
USA | 2022 | 17 minutes
Written and Directed by: Quamé A. Hamlin
Basketball connects Jerome to his long-absent father, though not in the ways he wishes. As he wrestles with his own concept of family, he must confront his father’s legacy on and off the court.
USA | 2023 | 14 minutes
Written and Directed by: Gianfranco Fernández-Ruiz
A competitive section for short-form episodic television directed by and/or both written and produced by persons of African descent. Each series in this section will compete for the Jury Award for Best Series (Television or Web) (presented by Comcast NBCUniversal, $2,500 cash prize). The following are the 2023 official selections in the Series category:
Being Alex *World Premiere
An eclectic high school sophomore embarks on an entertaining journey of self-discovery amidst a spiraling pandemic and life-changing social revolution.
USA | 11 min
Written and Directed by: Christopher J. Love
Producer: LaShanda Simmons-Calhoun
Cast: Koby Calhoun, Roman Vargas, Paula Velasquez
Bloom Room *U.S. Festival Premiere
In the midst of a global pandemic, a group of twenty-somethings explores the complexities of Black mental health and the bonds of chosen family in an online plant care community.
Canada | 8 min
Directors: Tristen Sutherland, Christian Anderson, Yasmijin Nicolle, Sochima Nwakaeze, Ajhanis Charley
Writers: Tristen Sutherland, Christian Anderson, Yasmijin Nicolle, Sochima Nwakaeze, Ajhanis Charley, Maryan Haye, Anthony Meeks, Yonas Ogubu
Producers: Alexx Bryant, Caleb Phillips, Anthony Jhade, Kelvin Omori, Rochelle Chambers, Funsho Elegbeleye
Executive Producers: Alison Duke, Ngardy Conteh George
Cast: Lane Webber, Brittany Miller, Blane Soloman, Jordan Henry
Buzz Kill *World Premiere
A charismatic and chubby Black queer millennial’s life is shaken up when romance, career and family issues collide.
USA | 15 min
Director: Jessie B. Evans
Writers: Jessie B. Evans, Terrance ‘Mo County’ Williams
Producers: Jessie B. Evans, Credere Joseph, Terrance ‘Mo County’ Williams
Cast: Terrance ‘Mo County’ Williams, Marcel J. Sawyer, Danielle Carter, Stewart Jewett, Christian Omari, Jessie B. Evans
Criblore: A Horror Anthology *World Premiere
An anthology series that follows a group of eccentric characters and their encounters with witches, werewolves, mermaids, trolls, and more.
USA | 14 min
Written and Directed by: Lucien Christian Adderley, Richard “Byrd” Wilson
Executive Producer: Moon Lee Ferguson (Creator of Series)
Cast: Terayle Hill, Brittany S. Hall
Two Trinidadian siblings, Jordana and Khalid, face challenges starting their own Flatbush Avenue dollar van service.
USA | 9 min
Director: Gabriel A. Tolliver
Writers: Gabriel A. Tolliver, Vinay Chowdry
Producers: Vinay Chowdry, Kecia Élan Cole, Kuye Youngblood
Cast: Jordana Persad, Khalid Hamid, Arthur Gregory Pugh, Walter T. Mudu
I Was a Soul Train Dancer
“I Was a Soul Train Dancer” is a mini-docs series that profiles some of the most recognizable and memorable Soul Train dancers from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.
USA | 11 min
Written and Directed by: Timiza Sanyika
Producer: Timiza Sanyika
Cast: Aretha Jackson, Larry “Bobcat” Jefferies
I’ll Make You Better: Thomas Jules, Knicks Fan Counselor *U.S. Festival Premiere
An aspiring self-help guru tries to strengthen his reputation while not alienating his loyal clientele of rabid Knicks fans.
USA | 2 min
Director: Andrew Edghill
Writers: Andrew Edghill, Lee O. Valentin
Producer: Andrew Edghill
Cast: Lee O. Valentin
Love Trial *U.S. Festival Premiere
Two young Atlanta professionals hit it off fast, but find out rather quickly that finding love, and maintaining it — are two totally different journeys.
USA | 15 min
Written and Directed by: Brandon Henderson
Producers: Brandon Henderson, Ruben Ahortor
Cast: Kiah Alexandria, Brandon Henderson, Keon Mitchell, Christen Sharice, Tuki Daily, Phylicia Morgan
Shadowboxing – Round 1 *World Premiere
Andre desires to be the perfect boyfriend for the love of his life, Desi, but he struggles with a secret…Sex Addiction.
USA | 15 min
Director: Mo McRae
Writer: Mustafa Speaks
Producers: Mustafa Speaks, Michelle Mitchenor, Mo McRae, Lex Scott Davis, Anna Notarides
Cast: Mustafa Speaks, Adriyan Rae, Diego Parada, Jerrell Pippens, Lex Scott Davis, Shakira Barrera
The Federation *World Premiere
Flex Incredible navigates the explosive world of professional wrestling in the 1990s, where the line between fantasy and reality is subjective in more ways than one.
USA | 15 min
Written and Directed by: Kola Olasiji
Producers: Kola Olasiji, Molly Neville Olasiji
Cast: Kola Olasiji, Miles Burris, Byron Hopkins
The Lesbian Homie
A man tries to forget his recent past failed toxic situationship by pursuing another woman who he finds to have a lot of the same traits and attitude as the previous woman…..Deja Vu maybe?
USA | 10 min
Director: Jahdai Pickett
Writers: Jahdai Pickett, J. Antonio Figueroa
Producer: Dirty Chucks Entertainment
Cast: Jahdai Pickett, Stephanie Nelson, Kraig Smith, G. Wayne, Marche’ Howell, Lisa Yaro, Marlin Minks, Ciera Angelia
The Table *World Premiere
The journey of London and Ed’s relationship is told over seven years primarily at their dining room table.
USA | 12 min
Directors: Caralene Robinson, Jamal Hodge, Crystal Whaley
Writers: Caralene Robinson, Nina Simone Moore
Producers: Caralene Robinson, Deborah Riley Draper, Crystal Whaley, DeDe Brown, Jamal Hodge
Cast: Devin Nelson, Brandon J. Shaw, Bevy Smith, Yvette Ganier
Third Wheel Material
When a perpetual third wheel struggles to find love and a sense of belonging, he decides to ask his two best friends, a couple, for help.
USA | 11 min
Director: Lyandre Pierre
Writer: Lyandre Pierre
Producers: Julian Park, Tezeta Solomon, Rickey Larke, Lyandre Pierre
Cast: Jerry Madison Jr., Charlotte Williams Roberts, Christian Robinson
Wallflower *World Premiere
When a shy teenage girl is gifted a family heirloom, it sparks the courage to live life on her own terms; but as she evolves and becomes unrecognizable to the people closest to her, she must decide who she wants to be.
Canada | 15 min
Director: Tristan Barrocks
Writers: Safia Bartholomew, Kern Carter
Producer: Leah Rifkin
Associate Producer: Corey Kareem
Cast: Kayla Kuhnke, Courtenay Field, Shirley Jackson, Romello Griffith, Ayan Elmi, Andrew James, Grace McDonald
Voices Of Culture
A noncompetitive section of narrative short films directed by persons of African descent. The following films represent the 2023 official selections in this category:
Bizarro World *World Premiere
Six unrelated, humorous, absurd stories, shot in and around LA.
USA | 8 min
Directors: Jonathan Salmon, Abdi Ibrahim
Writers: Khari Johnson, Jonathan Salmon
Producer: Khari Johnson
Cast: James Chrosniak, Mark Mandia,Jonathan Salmon, Jak Knight, Upendo Moore, Nona P Johnson, Zack Fox, Tyree Norwood, Mekki Leeper, Khari Johnson, Felice Levair, Kate Hollowell, Matt Law
Blackifier *World Premiere
After watching an odd TV infomercial advertising a magical spray called blackifier, that when used can make anyone appear to be black to everyone else around them, Karen goes on a journey inside an alternate TV universe to see just how exciting the Black experience is.
USA | 15 min
Director: Christian Kamaal
Writer: Jalen Young
Producers: Cory Gorman, Jordan Shanks
Cast: Diane Sargent, Christopher Grossett, Chanda Wallace, TyNae Miller, Brandon James Somerville, Peace Ikediuba, Seth Carter, Michael Duisenberg
Burning Rubber *U.S. Festival Premiere
Down on his luck, Duane Ruiz is out of college and out of options and has to choose between his responsibilities or following his passion and competing in the high stakes, Burning Rubber Wallball tournament.
USA | 7 min
Director: Chris Fequiere
Writer: Dara King
Producers: Dara King, Amanda Miller
Cast: Dante Hoagland, Gorilla Nems, Alexandria Benford, Melvin Lee Douglas, Colin Ki/Kenny, Mike Smith Rivera, Oliver Fequiere
Chidera *World Premiere
A coming-of-age story of a teenage girl bound from birth to a higher calling; but as the traditional ceremony looms she struggles to choose between her destiny and the freedom she yearns.
USA | 18 min
Directors: Sope Aluko, Adaora Nwandu-Earl
Writers: Sope Aluko, Shola Dada
Producer: Sope Aluko
Cast: Sope Aluko, Courtney Williams, Dasan Frazier, Bridget John
One girl’s grief drives her to extraordinary lengths.
UK | 18 min
Directors: Cat White, Phoebe Torrance
Writer: Cat White
Producer: Cat White
Cast: Cat White, Celia Imrie, Juliet Cowan, Delroy Brown, Josh Williams
Having recently lost his father, Rogelio (14) devises a plan to sneak into a strip club with his pals Larry and Chaz, as the night takes an unexpected turn.
USA | 18 min
Written and Directed by: Jocko Sims
Producers: Jocko Sims, Christopher Santiago, Chaz Hazlitt, Andrew Zolot
Cast: Josiah Santiago, Tristan-Lee Edwards, Giovani Cristoff, Angela Mejia-Loggia, Eliza Ramos
Love Taps *World Premiere
A young boy trying to cope with his parents separation gains a new perspective of his father after discovering his affair with another man.
USA | 14 min
Written and Directed by: Derrick Woodyard
Producers: Tara Sheffer, T. Bankolé
Executive Producer: Spike Lee
Cast: Rahim Barry, Parish Bradley, Emmanuel Kerry, Omrae Smith, Rayvon Southerland
Monochromatic *World Premiere
The inevitable moment a six-year-old girl realizes the world operates with bias when it comes to the color of her skin.
UK | 13 min
Written and Directed by: Karen Bryson
Producers: Lorraine Bhattachary, Shakyra Dowling
Cast: Stephanie Levi John, Kenedy McCallam Martin, Elisha Robin
Oba *World Premiere
In an Afro-Futurist future, the King of a prominent Nigerian village has died. The Kingmakers select an unsuspecting boy from South London to ascend him.
UK | 11min
Written and Directed by: Femi Ladi
Producer: Ray Okudzeto
Cast: Samuel Adewunmi, Funke Adeleke, Philips Nortey, Richard Olátúndé Baker
Murphy, a young Black girl of Congolese descent, suffers from depression. In opposition to a particularly religious and superficial family, Murphy has no other choice to survive than to take refuge in her bed …
France | 19 min
Written and Directed by: Victoria Neto
Producers: Anais Lonkeu, Lena Bapt
Cast: Lorena Masikini, Pauline Mbaku, Pol White, Dorea Da Rozalia, Cindy Wadja
Port Of A Prince
A young Haitian boy must decide if joining a gang is the right path for him.
USA/Haiti | 15 min
Written and Directed by: JR Aristide
Producers: Gilbert Mirambeau Jr., JR Aristide
Cast: Personna Wilensky, Guerrier Giovanni, Edmond Erthon, Rolando Etienne
Reunion *World Premiere
“Reunion” tells the story of what happens when a West African immigrant living in the Bronx discovers the child soldier who destroyed her family years ago is now a best-selling author living in NYC.
USA | 16 min
Directors: Zainab Jah, Tim Naylor
Writers: Tim Naylor, Zainab Jah
Producer: Djaka Souaré
Cast: Mayaa Boateng, Obi Abili
Somebody *World Premiere
As Jared contemplates ending his life, his plan is disrupted by a lost child seeking directions.
USA | 12 min
Director: JoJoe Earley
Writer: Ava Mone’t
Producer: Julio Mata Jr.
Cast: Kamil McFadden, Nyle Mckenzie
Speak Up Brotha!
After a brief encounter with an enigmatic woman in his car, a rideshare driver must learn to communicate in ways beyond his understanding to win her heart.
USA | 15 min
Director: Wes Andre Goodrich
Writers: Roderick Lawrence, Obbie West, James J. Johnson
Producers: Salma Qarnain, Roderick Lawrence, Dario Harris, Patrick Nichols
Executive Producers: Ron Gillyard, Will Campbell, Ike Mbanefo, Obbie West, Cameron Carr
Cast: Roderick Lawrence, T.C. Carson, Toni Lachelle Pollitt, Madeline Grey DeFreece, Alphonso Walker Jr., Justin Winley, Jaleeca Yancy
The new membership desk assistant at an exclusive museum becomes a special exhibit when staff and visitors obsess over him and his hair instead of the art on the walls.
USA | 15 min
Written and Directed by: Danny Rogers
Producers: Alyssa Katalyna, Celai Ahmadzai
Cast: Danny Rogers, Eric Davis, Sierra Marcks, Lauren Killer, Ben Newton, Hunter C. Smith, Susan Priver, Frank Poynton, Maria Brodeur, Aeron Macintyre
An elderly woman with Hollywood dreams enlists her grandson’s help to go viral on TikTok.
USA | 9 min
Written and Directed by: Ivan Rome
Producer: Yoko Kohmoto
Cast: Christine Smith, Thomas Walter Booker, Winter-Lee Holland, Kendel Rome
Welcome to Afrotree
After being fed up with life in the city, Steven and Janet move to a gated community where all the residents are Black. But, they soon realize their dreams have become a nightmare.
USA | 21 min
Written and Directed by: Chase Parker
Writer: Chase Parker
Producers: Chase Parker, Greg Rhem
Cast: Charlie Q. Smith, Wilson Christopher, Tra’Lynn Husbands, Colin Pieters
Since its inception, the highly regarded American Black Film Festival has become a cornerstone for diversity in Hollywood. It has premiered the work and supported the careers of many of today’s most successful filmmakers, actors, writers and stand-up comedians, and is recognized as a standard-bearer of excellence for Black creativity.
ABFF sponsors and partners to date are Warner Bros. Discovery and HBO® (Founding); Andscape, Ally, Comcast NBCUniversal, Walmart, Cadillac (Presenting); City of Miami Beach, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), UPS, TV One Networks, Netflix, Meta, Prime Video (Major); American Airlines, IMDb, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Variety, YouTube Black Voices, Prudential Financial, ALLBLK, Bounce TV, OWN, Warner Bros. Television (Official); A&E Network, BET Media Group, Motion Picture Association (MPA), Confluential Films, Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Fulton Films GA, ESPN Films, Lionsgate (Supporting).
The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is a property of ABFF Ventures LLC, an entertainment company specializing in the production of live events and platforms that celebrate Black culture and achievement. The ABFF, the company’s flagship event, is dedicated to recognizing Black talent and showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent. ABFF founder Jeff Friday conceived the festival in 1997 as a vehicle to strengthen the Black entertainment community by fostering resource sharing, education and artistic collaboration. Now in its 27th year, the festival has become a key proponent of diversity in Hollywood, providing a platform for emerging Black artists.
Chelsye J. Burrows
ABFF Ventures LLC