The 2023 American Black Film Festival Announces Best of the ABFF Awards

Credit: Image Courtesy of American Black Film Festival; Image Credit: Aaron Thornton. Left to right: Jeff Friday, Nicole Friday, Ogo Okpue, Vanessa Vanderpuye, Timiza Sanyika, Anndi Jinelle Liggett, Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr., Oz Scott, Dondre Whitfield (Not photographed: Kate Davis & Luchina Fisher)


Emmy-nominated Actor/Author Dondré Whitfield Returned to Host the Inspiring Celebration of Winners

Miami Beach, FL, (June 17, 2023) – The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) today announced winners of the Best of the ABFF Awards, the premiere award ceremony honoring storytelling from the next generation of Black filmmakers.

Hosted by three-time Emmy-nominated actor and author Dondré Whitfield, the festival presented winners in the official film selection categories – narrative and documentary features, series and the 26th HBO Short Film Award Showcase as well as the festival’s newest talent pipeline program, the ABFF Podcast Competition. The 27th annual festival continues live in Miami through Sunday, June 18 followed by a virtual segment streaming on ABFF Play from June 19-25.

The 2023 Jury Award winners are:

  • Best Narrative Feature – “Cinnamon”
    Written and Directed by Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr.

    • Prize: $2,500, presented by Andscape
  • Best Director (TIE) – Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr. | “Cinnamon”
    and Ogo Okpue | “A Song from the Dark”

    • Prize: Both winners receive $2,500, presented by Cadillac
  • HBO Short Film Award Showcase | “Jelly”
    Directed by Anndi Jinelle Liggett

    • Prize: $10,000 for winner, $5,000 each for four finalists, presented by Warner Bros. Discovery/HBO
  • Best Documentary Feature – “Locked Out”
    Directed by Kate Davis and Luchina Fisher

    • Prize: $2,500
  • Best Series (Television or Web) – “I Was a Soul Train Dancer”
    Written, Directed, and Produced by Timiza Sanyika

    • Prize: $2,500, presented by Comcast NBC Universal | Black Experience on XFINITY
  • Best Actor – Actress Vanessa Vanderpuye | “A Song from the Dark”
    • Prize: $2,500, presented by Ally

The Talent Pipeline Program winners are:

ABFF Podcast Competition

  • Archie Jay: “Archie: The Podcast”
  • Ken Lewis: “Gangsta Island”
  • Sophia Stephens: “The Maiden Myth”

ABFF sponsors include 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).

About ABFF
The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) 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. ABFF, the company’s flagship event, is a property of Nice Crowd, formerly ABFF Ventures LLC, a leading entertainment company in the event tourism arena. To learn more about Nice Crowd events, visit

Media Contacts:

Chelsye J. Burrows, ABFF Ventures LLC |

The Lede Company |