Sony Pictures Entertainment Partners with The American Black Film Festival on its “ABFF 365” Diversity Initiative


LOS ANGELES, (August 26, 2019) – Today, ABFF Ventures, LLC, announced that Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is the first entertainment studio to support the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) on its newly formed global diversity initiative, “ABFF 365,” targeted to creatives and audiences of African heritage. The program expands the ABFF brand beyond its annual film festival, now in its 23rd year, to include other experiential events and screenings showcasing the work of black content creators and promoting camaraderie among multicultural artists in the motion picture and television industries.

Through this partnership, Sony Pictures Entertainment will have a presence at multiple ABFF-produced events throughout 2019, including the American Black Film Festival (Miami Beach), ABFF UK (London) and ABFF Honors (Los Angeles). In addition, ABFF Ventures CEO Jeff Friday will serve as an adviser to SPE on its diversity outreach and programming.

“For the past 23 years, our film festival has led the way in showcasing the work of Black artists and content creators with support from many blue chip companies. We are thrilled to have Sony Pictures as a committed partner of our “ABFF 365″ initiative as we expand the footprint of the ABFF brand throughout the year and around the world,” says Jeff Friday, festival founder and ABFF Ventures CEO.

“Sony Pictures’ commitment to diversity and inclusion extends beyond the borders of the U.S. We are excited to partner with ABFF on an international scale for this important initiative,” said Paul Martin, SVP & Chief Diversity Officer, Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“I am delighted that Sony Pictures Entertainment is partnering with the ABFF to support its international expansion,” said Wayne Garvie, President of International Production, Sony Pictures Television. “London is a vibrant, important source of diverse creative talent and a fantastic place to showcase emerging content. We are excited to launch the ABFF 365 programme here, which highlights SPE’s commitment to harnessing the power of diversity and promoting inclusivity so that talented people can thrive working with us.”

The ABFF/SPE partnership successfully kicked off at the American Black Film Festival recently held in Miami, FL. (June 12-16), with SPE presenting two dynamic sessions. The first, a panel discussion, “Beyond the Spider-Verse: What’s Next for Sony Pictures Animation,” offered a look at what made the Academy Award®-winning Spider-ManTM: Into the Spider-Verse a global hit and explored the road ahead for the rapidly expanding studio. In addition, SPE premiered the pilot episode of its upcoming series “For Life”, a fictional serialized legal and family drama. Inspired by the life of Isaac Wright, Jr., the story follows the life of a prisoner who becomes a lawyer, litigating cases for other inmates while fighting to overturn his own life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit.

“ABFF 365” program will continue this year with the initiation of ABFF Global, an international film series and extension of the American Black Film Festival. Its mission is to promote the universal appeal of films by and about people of color and encourage collaboration between content creators throughout the African diaspora, with the objective of expanding distribution opportunities for black content on an international scale. SPE is the founding sponsor of the first installment of the series, ABFF UK, which will take place in London, September 27-29, 2019. The three-day program will be held at Picturehouse Central, and offer award-winning features, short films and web series from the 2019 Festival. ABFF Global will visit other major cultural hubs around the world, including Madrid, Cape Town and Paris, in 2020.

“ABFF 365” culminates with ABFF Honors, an annual awards show that salutes excellence in the motion picture and television industry. The ceremony celebrates black culture by recognizing individuals who have made distinguished contributions to American entertainment through their work, as well as those who champion diversity and inclusion in Hollywood.

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony 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. SPE’s Motion Picture Group production organizations include Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Stage 6 Films, AFFIRM Films, and Sony Pictures Classics. For additional information, visit http://www.sonypictures.com/corp/divisions.html.

The American Black Film Festival is an annual event dedicated to recognizing 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 Jeff Friday conceived the festival in 1997 as a vehicle to strengthen the black filmmaking community by encouraging resource sharing, education and artistic collaboration. Since then, the annual festival has become a cornerstone of diversity in Hollywood, providing a platform for emerging black artists—many of who have become today’s most successful actors, producers, writers, directors, and stand-up comedians. Among those are Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Will Packer (Girls Trip), Issa Rae (Insecure), Omari Hardwick (Power) and Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II). For more information, visit https://www.abff.com/miami/.


Michelle Huff Elliott
Strategic Heights Media
[email protected]