Honors Handed to Mario Van Peebles, Warrington Hudlin and Winners of ABFF’s Independent Film Competitions

MIAMI, FL (July 19, 2005) – The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) wrapped up its 9th year with the ABFF Independent Film Awards, which honored actor/director Mario Van Peebles (Baadasssss!) and producer/director Warrington Hudlin (Boomerang, House Party). In addition, awards were given to winners of ABFF’s independent film competitions. The ABFF Independent Film Awards, sponsored by Time Warner, was held Saturday, July 16, 2005, in the Lincoln Theatre in South Beach, Miami.

The ABFF Independent Film Awards was designed to celebrate and honor ABFF independent films and filmmakers as well as pay tribute to outstanding members of the film community.

ABFF Independent Film Awards
Hosted by actor Anthony Anderson (Hustle & Flow), the show featured A-list Hollywood celebrities including, John Singleton, Nia Long, Tracee Ellis Ross and Melvin Van Peebles. Other celebrities in attendance included, Bill Duke, Bokeem Woodbine, Victoria Rowell, Nelson George, Antoine Fuqua, Elise Neal and Paula Jai Parker. The show also included a special performance by the Black Violin Duo.

Winners and Recipients of Special Tributes. Independent Film Awards

  • The HBO Short Film Award to Shards, directed by Jonathan Levine. The screenplay was by Jonathan David Boyce and Jonathan Levine. The Award was presented by Olivia Smashum, executive vice president, affiliate marketing at HBO. The winner received a cash prize of $20,000.
  • The award for Performance by an Actor, presented by AXE Unlimited went to Biloah Greene for his role in On the One, directed by Charles Randolph-Wright.
  • The Voices of Color Best Documentary presented to Bastards of the Party, directed by Cle Sloan and produced by Antoine Fuqua. This award was presented by Wal-Mart for the best nonfiction film of the festival. The winner receives a cash prize of $10,000.
  • The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature was presented to On the One. Presented by Blockbuster, the award was determined by popular vote of the festival. The winner received a cash prize of $20,000.
  • The Grand Jury Prize for Best Picture went to On the One. Presented by Kodak, the award was for the best film of the festival. The winner received 35-mm film stock valued at $20,000.
  • Melvin Van Peebles Trailblazer Award presented to Warrington Hudlin. The award was presented by legendary filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles (Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song).
  • The Filmmaker Trophy for Director of the Year was presented to Mario Van Peebles Baadasssss! by actress Nia Long (Big Momma’s House). The Filmmaker Trophy, sponsored by Lincoln, honors a director whose film received critical and/or commercial success in the 12 months leading up to the festival. Lincoln also presented Van Peebles with a 2005 Lincoln Navigator.

ABFF Independent Film Awards
Dedicated to strengthening the independent film community, this year ABFF, recognized as the premiere Black film festival, attracted more than 3,000 attendees.

Sponsors of ABFF include: HBO, Founding and Title Sponsor; Time Warner and Wal-Mart Voices of Color, Presenting Sponsors; Lincoln Mercury and AXE Body Spray, Platinum Sponsors; BET, Blockbuster, Kodak, Starbucks and UrbanWorks Entertainment, Gold Sponsors; Akademiks, American Airlines, Daily Blossom, ENYCE, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), Landmine Design, Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council (TDC), Nickeloden, Nielsen Media Research, Turner Classic Movies and Vurv, Inc., Silver Sponsors; Black Elegance, Black Enterprise, EURWeb.com, IN FOCUS magazine, UPTOWN magazine, Urban America Newspaper, Media Partners; and 11:24 Design, Falcon Films, Gallery 61, Image Entertainment, Maverick Entertainment, ProductionHUB.com, SAGIndie, Soulfilms.com and Virginia Key Beach Park, Industry Partners.

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 39 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.

Producer and Director Warrington Hudlin to Receive Honor

New York, NY, March 22, 2005 – Award-winning film producer and Black Filmmaker Foundation (BFF) founder Warrington Hudlin will receive the Melvin Van Peebles Trailblazer Award at the 9th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF), Jeff Friday, cofounder and producer of the ABFF, announced today . The ABFF is a five-day retreat and international film market held annually in Miami’s South Beach. This year’s festival will take place July 13-17.

“For the better part of 30 years, Warrington has built a distinguished career as a pioneering Black filmmaker, activist and curator. It is for that reason we are pleased to honor him with the ABFF’s Melvin Van Peebles Trailblazer Award,” Friday said.

Hudlin, who began his career making documentary films, cofounded the BFF in 1978 to foster audience development and provide financial assistance to independent Black filmmakers. More recently, Hudlin founded dvRepublic.com and is the executive producer of the BFF DV Lab, a multicultural, socially concerned digital film company.

Born and raised in East St. Louis, Illinois, Hudlin graduated from Yale University in 1974. His work as a film producer includes the teenage hit House Party, the animated feature, Bebe’s Kids, and his first major Hollywood picture, Boomerang. He also won a Cable ACE award for the HBO Special Cosmic Slop. In addition, Hudlin is a cofounder and was also the curator of the Acapulco Black Film Festival.

“Our continued success demonstrates the unparalleled status of ABFF as the premiere international film festival for filmmakers of color,” said Friday. “It is through the continued support of HBO and Time Warner that we are able to give Black artists across the world a platform to express their voices. My sincere thanks to Olivia Smashum of HBO for her vision and help in forging the expanding relationship between Time Warner and Film Life.”

Novelist, playwright, musician, composer, actor, editor, director, producer and cultural icon, Melvin Van Peebles has been credited with paving the way for modern African-American filmmakers. “Melvin Van Peebles is the godfather of modern Black cinema, and his groundbreaking film, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song, was one of the first truly Black independent film projects,” Friday said. “He is a legend in the history of African-American cinema and his remarkable career and achievements have influenced events in American film history,” Friday added.

Van Peebles made his feature film debut in 1967 as the director, writer and composer of The Story of a Three Day Pass. In 1971, he starred in, wrote, produced directed, financed and distributed the groundbreaking, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, one of the highest-grossing independent films at the time. The film ushered in a new era of Black independent filmmaking. His other directing credits include “The Watermelon Man (1970) and Don’t Play Us Cheap (1973). In addition, he wrote the Tony Award nominated Broadway musical Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, and Classified X. In 1995, his son, actor/director Mario Van Peebles, directed his screenplay Panther.

Dedicated to strengthening the independent film community, the ABFF attracts more than 2,500 attendees and is recognized as the premiere Black film festival. 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 become the leading American brand producing Black movies and related entertainment content.

Time Warner Inc. is the festival’s presenting sponsor and Home Box Office is the founding sponsor. Other festival sponsors include: Lincoln Mercury (Platinum), Blockbuster and UrbanWorks Entertainment (Gold), as well as American Airlines, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Kodak, Nickelodeon, Nielsen Media Research, Starbucks, Turner Classic Movies, and VURV, Inc. (Silver).