In January 1997 after an inspiring and eye opening trip to a leading film festival, Jeff Friday asked himself three transformative questions:
Not knowing the answers, Friday took a blind leap of faith, departing from his job as film division president of the largest multicultural advertising agency, to devote his professional life to building the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), recognized today as the leading film festival of its kind in the world.
The American Black Film Festival is an annual event dedicated to recognizing Black talent and showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent. Dedicated to the belief that diverse artists deserve the same opportunities as their mainstream counterparts, 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.
Twenty-five years later, the festival has become a cornerstone of diversity in Hollywood, providing a platform for emerging Black artists – many of whom have become today’s most successful actors, producers, writers, directors and stand-up comedians – including Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Will Packer (Girls Trip), Issa Rae (Insecure), Kevin Hart (Night School), Omari Hardwick (Power) and Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II). Today, the ABFF is widely considered the preeminent pipeline for Black artists in front of and behind the camera, and has significantly expanded the range of talent working in the entertainment Industry.
As “the nation’s largest gathering of Black film and television enthusiasts” the ABFF attracts a broad audience of celebrity talent, emerging artists, upscale consumers and industry stakeholders. Historically, 7,000 to 10,000 people have traveled to Miami Beach each year for the event. The festival opens with the debut of an upcoming Hollywood release followed by a robust lineup of Hollywood premieres, independent film screenings, master classes, panels, celebrity talks, live entertainment, and a variety of networking and hospitality events.
In response to the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on communities of color, in 2020 the ABFF program was presented virtually, attracting online attendees from 90 countries around the world. The program included the first presentation of the John Singleton Award for Best First Feature Film (established in 2020) and a LGBTQIA film section, “ABFF Pride.”
With the support of a global network of major entertainment, media and consumer product companies, the festival continues to lead the way promoting diversity in the motion picture and television industries.
The American Black Film Festival is a property of ABFF Ventures LLC (ABFFV), a Los Angeles-based entertainment company founded by its CEO Jeff Friday, as a platform to produce live and digital events focused on African American culture and achievement.
The ABFF program is designed to incorporate the following initiatives:
Programs designed to encourage and assist with career development.
Exhibition platform where a cross section of content creators can share their work.
Numerous networking opportunities to connect and share resources.
Up-and-coming creative and industry professionals meet and stay connected, building strong ties within and beyond the Hollywood community.
Acknowledging outstanding work and rewarding creatives, inspiring them to continue their road to success.