Three-Day Fest Opens with Emmy-nominated Actress Sanaa Lathan’s Directorial Debut On the Come Up
Program Also Features, Independent Films, Panels and Networking Events
LOS ANGELES, (September 14, 2022) – The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) – the leading event in the U.S. showcasing Black creative talent – today revealed its lineup of premieres, features, short films, panels, master classes and networking events for ABFF Global, its international screening series. Programmed in partnership with S.O.U.L. Fest, a UK film organization, ABFF Global is the second installment of the London series taking place September 16-18, 2022, at the British Film Institute (BFI) and the Garden Cinema.
“We’re excited to return to London to showcase the work of Black content creators from around the globe. ABFF’s collaboration with the S.O.U.L. Fest organization is an extension of what our mission has been for 26 years; to provide a platform for Black creatives to tell their stories, build alliances and program content for our community,” said Nicole Friday, president ABFF Ventures LLC.
Kicking off the three-day London event, is the opening night presentation of the coming-of age drama On the Come Up courtesy of Paramount+. A moving love letter to hip-hop, the film marks Emmy®-nominated actress Sanaa Lathan’s feature directorial debut and stars Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Lil Yachty, Mike Epps, Miles Gutierrez-Riley, Justin Martin, Titus Makin, Michael Cooper Jr., GaTa, Sanaa Lathan, Cliff “Method Man” Smith and introducing newcomer Jamila C. Gray.
The series will also feature screenings from independent filmmakers and Hollywood studios including a special preview of The Silent Twins, a powerful film based on a true story courtesy of Focus Features starring Letitia Wright (Black Panther) and Tamara Lawrence (Kindred); The UK premiere of The Threesome, an official narrative selection from the 2022 ABFF; Little Darlings an uplifting children’s movie; The Amazon Prime Video series Jungle; and eight diverse short films by British filmmakers from the 2022 S.O.U.L Fest Short film program and award presentation. Additional events include the not-to-be-missed panel, “Because Hollywoodn’t: A Conversation with ABFF Founders Jeff and Nicole Friday,” and a Comedy Master Class from the BBC.
Since its founding, advancing diversity in Hollywood and providing a platform for emerging filmmakers has been a cornerstone of ABFF’s mission. ABFF Global, extends its commitment to the UK to foster collaboration among the growing number and success of Black British creative artists and the Black American filmmaking communities and to facilitate distribution of content from the African Diaspora. Future installments of the series will be presented in other major cultural hubs, including Madrid, Abu Dhabi, Paris and Gaborone.
For the full schedule, to purchase tickets and for more information visit, https://www.abffglobal.com/.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
On The Come Up
Opening Night Film/Courtesy of Paramount Pictures/Paramount+
Director: Sanaa Lathan
Cast: Jamila C. Gray, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Lil Yachty, Mike Epps
Starring newcomer Jamila C. Gray, On the Come Up is the story of Bri, a gifted 16-year-old rapper, who attempts to take the battle rap scene by storm in order to lift up her family and do right by the legacy of her father – a local hip hop legend whose career was cut short by gang violence. But when her first hit song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, she finds herself torn between the authenticity that got her this far and the false persona that the industry wants to impose upon her.
SATURDAY, JUNE 17
Because Hollywoodn’t: A Conversation with ABFF Founders Jeff and Nicole Friday
Moderators: Anthony Andrews (Creative Director, We Are Parable) and Teanne Andrews (Director of Operations, We Are Parable)
Award winning co-founders of We Are Parable, Anthony and Teanne Andrews will be in conversation with the mercurial co-founders of the American Black Film Festival, Jeff and Nicole Friday, where they’ll discuss origins of the ABFF and share their plans to expand the brand and strengthen the global Black film community.
S.O.U.L. Fest Shorts & Awards presented by Akua Gyamfi and Iyare Igiehon
This year’s S.O.U.L. Fest short film program brings together eight diverse visions of Black British life. Following the screening, the 2022 S.O.U.L. Fest Awards recognizing outstanding Black British screen culture will be presented along with the respected Impact Award.
The short films are:
- Why Me?, directed by Abdou Cisse
- Barry the Beekeeper, directed by Ikram Ahmed
- Butterfly Affect, directed by Edem Wornoo
- The Ballad Of Olive Morris, directed by Alex Kayode-Kay
- Drop Out, directed by Ade Femzo
- Muroyi Ndiani? (Who Is The Witch?), directed by Lawrie Zidyana
- A Birthday Party directed by Victoria Thomas
- Reflection, directed by David Anderson
Director: Jamal Dedeaux
Writer: Jamal Dedeaux
Producers: Jaleel Ghafur, Rebecca Haze, Jamal Dedeaux
Cast: Andrea Lewis, Brittany S. Hall, Jerrel O’Neal
Nominated at the 2022 American Black Film Festival for Best Narrative Feature, Best Director, and Best Screenplay; The Threesome tells the story of sexually awkward Stacey Johnson who decides to take control of her life, cancel her ex, and conquer her fears by having a threesome with her new beau and a mysterious woman she’s never met. What could possibly go wrong? Filmmaker Q&A to follow.
The Silent Twins
Courtesy of Focus Features
Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska
Cast: Letitia Wright, Tamara Lawrance
The Silent Twins is the astounding true story of twin sisters who only communicated with one another. As a result, they created a rich, fascinating world to escape the reality of their own lives. Based on the best-selling book “The Silent Twins.”
SUNDAY, JUNE 18
Director: Ian Aryeh
Writers: Nathan Byron and Jonny Leigh-Wright
Cast: Janae Vito, Diaana Babnicova
Destiny is desperate to meet her dad and half-siblings. The only problem is – they don’t even know that she exists. And her dad just happens to be a famous pop star, Danny Killman. When they finally meet Danny is stunned – and Destiny’s mum Kate storms off in a huff. But Destiny’s sister Sunset stays in touch and the girls bond instantly. Sunset helps Destiny find the courage to sing at her talent contest, and makes sure Destiny knows how much the Killman family love her. To prove it, Danny shows up to Destiny’s performance and they sing together on stage. Followed by Q&A with actors Janae Vito, Diaana Babnicova and writers Nathan Bryon and Jonny Leigh-Wright moderated by Akua Gyamfi.
Courtesy of Prime Video
Director: Junior Okoli
Producer: Kurban Kassam
Jungle follows the connected lives of several strangers, each facing their own struggle, viewed through the prism of UK rap and drill music, and giving a perspective on an often-unseen world. Frequently misunderstood, it’s a world where one law governs everything: only the strongest will survive. As the strangers’ worlds begin to unravel around them, they come to the realization that every action, no matter how small, has a consequence. Told through a unique blend of music and dialogue the series will feature some of the UK’s top drill and rap artists and looks to capture a very different side to an often-told story. Followed by Q&A with executive producers Junior Okoli and Chas Appeti.
BBC Comedy Masterclass
The genre of comedy has proven to be an effective nursery for launching Black British TV careers. Coincidence? Or is there something about the Black British experience that lends itself to comedy? Join BBC Comedy Director Jon Petrie and an array of comedy talent as we tackle these questions and more and demystify the business of funny.
ABFF Global sponsors to date include Global Sony Pictures Entertainment (Founding/Presenting); American Airlines (Official) and Paramount+ (Supporting).
About the American Black Film Festival
The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is an annual event dedicated to empowering black artists and showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent. Committed to the belief that diverse artists deserve the same opportunities as their mainstream counterparts, ABFF founder & CEO Jeff Friday conceived the festival in 1997 as a vehicle to strengthen the Black filmmaking community by encouraging resource sharing, education and artistic collaboration. He ultimately envisioned it as a cornerstone of diversity in Hollywood. Since its inception, the ABFF has been a platform for emerging Black artists, having premiered the early work and showcasing the talent of many of today’s most successful actors, producers, writers, directors and stand-up comedians. Today, the festival is the pre-eminent pipeline for Black artists in front of and behind the camera and has significantly expanded the range of talent working in Hollywood.
About S.O.U.L. Fest
A celebration of Black British talent in film, showcasing new work by Black British film creatives and allowing audiences the opportunity to see a diverse representation of Britain. Brought to you by S.O.U.L Celebrate Connect, The British Blacklist and We Are Parable, this is S.O.U.L. Fest.
About Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Group Corporation. SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition, and distribution; television production, acquisition, and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. Sony Pictures Television operates dozens of wholly-owned or joint-venture production companies around the world. SPE’s Motion Picture Group production organizations include Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, 3000 Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Stage 6 Films, AFFIRM Films, Sony Pictures International Productions, and Sony Pictures Classics. For additional information, visit http://www.sonypictures.com/corp/divisions.html
Paramount+ is a global digital subscription video streaming service from Paramount that features a mountain of premium entertainment for audiences of all ages. Internationally, the streaming service features an expansive library of original series, hit shows and popular movies across every genre from world-renowned brands and production studios, including SHOWTIME®, BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures and the Smithsonian ChannelTM, in addition to a robust offering of premier local content. The service is currently live in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Australia, Italy, South Korea and the U.K.
Chelsye J. Burrows
Jeff Friday Media (JFM) and ABFF Ventures LLC