HBO Short Film Award Finalists Selected to Compete at Film Life & HBO American Black Film Festival

Five filmmakers will vie for $20,000 grand prize to be awarded at festival’s closing ceremony

New York, N.Y., June 5, 2006 – Home Box Office has selected five finalists whose films will compete for the 2006 HBO Short Film Award grand prize during the 10th anniversary celebration of the Film Life & HBO American Black Film Festival (ABFF), July 19-23, in South Beach. The award was created in 1998 to give up-and-coming Black filmmakers, whose writing and directing talents show promise, a chance to showcase their works in a professional and competitive-friendly environment.

“At HBO we’ve had the honor of working with some of the best talent in entertainment,” said Olivia Smashum, executive vice president, Affiliate Marketing and Business Development at HBO. “This competition allows us to go the next step in nurturing young filmmakers through a celebrated and influential forum that gives them public and industry recognition.”

The competition will be hosted by noted television, film and stage actress Tamara Tunie, who currently stars in “Law and Order: SVU” and “As The World Turns.” Last summer, Tunie played opposite Denzel Washington in “Julius Caesar” on Broadway.

A panel of film industry professionals will judge the final entries during the festival. The $20,000 grand prize will be awarded by HBO to one filmmaker at the ABFF Independent Film Awards (July 23), with runners-up each receiving $5,000. This year’s finalists are:

Pop Foul, written, directed and executive produced by Moon Molson, is a coming-of-age story about a boy who begins to see his parents in a different light after witnessing an incident involving his father. Molson’s career in the film industry includes work in production, post production and set building. He’s written spec sitcom pilots and directed theater. He attended the Cinematography Program at The Los Angeles Film School and was an instructor of screenwriting and digital editing at The School of Cinema and Performing Arts in Los Angeles and the Berkshires.

Mandingo in a Box, written and directed by Dahéli Hall, is a satire that takes an unorthodox look at romance and the Black woman’s quest for the ever-elusive Black man. Hall holds a BFA in Theater from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and an MFA in Producing for Film and TV from USC. An actress, comic, writer and director, she is currently producing a documentary on gang violence, has been commissioned to write a screenplay about a female prison guard, and recently won a grant from the Miami Performing Center to develop a musical. Hall’s first short, “The Memo,” was selected as an HBO Short Film finalist in 2004.

Sin Salida, written, directed and produced by A. Sayeeda Clarke, is the story of an elderly woman who is haunted by the choices she made in her youth. Clarke is a Dean’s fellow and MFA candidate in Film at NYU. She has also studied directing at the Actor’s Studio Drama School. Her works include the short film “The Grey Woman,” winner of the Verizon Broadband Films Competition, and a stage production she directed at the Gene Frankel Theatre. An accomplished photographer, Clarke’s photos of Cuba and Italy, where she traveled to study international filmmaking, has been exhibited.

Trespass, written, executive produced by Nelsan Narie Ellis and directed by Xandy Smith, is the story of a young man who tries to deal with his disturbed brother and the shocking truth about their father. Ellis, a recent graduate of the Julliard School, was a series regular on Fox’s “The Inside” and featured in HBO Films’ “Warm Springs.” He is the co-founder of Alabaster Productions and has written and directed a stage play, “UGLy.” Smith has produced and directed several commercial spots for notable companies including Volkswagen, Nissan and Coca Cola. He directed the music video for “Dubliner” as well as his own film project, “Falling for Toby.”

Winnie and the Duppy Bat, written and directed by Annetta Laufer is the story of a young girl who tries to save her dying mother by confronting cultural superstitions. Laufer originally trained as a stage actress, then moved to directing theater before changing to film. She has also worked as a script editor and supervisor and has edited independent projects. Her first short, “Dinner for One,” was a finalist at the Aarrhus Film Festival in Denmark, which led to her first low-budget feature, “Engelene” (“Angels”), for Scandinavian TV. Laufer currently has a number of other film projects in development.

The 2005 HBO Short Film Award was won by co-writers/directors Jonathan David Boyce and Jonathan Levine for their film “Shards,” the story of a DJ and graffiti artist who struggles to kick a drug habit after a friend overdoses.

Home Box Office, Inc. is the premium television-programming subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., providing two 24-hour premium television services, HBO and Cinemax. Together, both networks reach approximately 40 million subscribers in the United States via cable and satellite delivery. Home Box Office’s international joint ventures bring HBO branded services to more than 50 countries around the globe.

The ABFF is a property of Film Life, Inc., a New York-based film marketing and distribution company. Its mission is to spearhead the global distribution of quality Black films and be the leading American brand producing Black movies and related entertainment content.