The 2019 American Black Film Festival Announces its Lineup of Panels, Conversations and Spotlight Screenings

Screenings include The Bobby Debarge Story (TV ONE), BEATS (Netflix) and David Makes Man (OWN), along with an array of panelists including Spike Lee, Malcolm D. Lee, Steven Caple Jr., Niecy Nash, Will Packer and more!

Los Angeles, CA, (May 8, 2019) – The 23rd annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF), taking place in Miami June 12-16, continues to deliver on their promise to showcase some of today’s hottest talent and provide a platform for emerging artists. This year’s lineup will include conversations, screenings and panels with diverse and inspiring filmmakers, icons and industry executives, presented by some of the most innovative brands in entertainment.

Academy Award-winning director Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman) will come together with his protege and first time-director, Stefon Bristol, for a Clips and Conversation about his latest Netflix film, “See You Yesterday.” Stefon is an ABFF alum and was a finalist in the 2017 HBO Short Film Competition, held exclusively at the festival. Netflix will also showcase two additional films, The Black Godfather and a special screening of Beats. The Black Godfather charts the exceptional and unlikely rise of music executive Clarence Avant. Director Reginald Hudlin will discuss the making of the film during a Q&A after the screening. A coming of age drama, Beats is about a musical prodigy (Khalil Everage) who forms an unlikely friendship with his high school security guard played by Anthony Anderson.

Beyond the Spider-Verse: What’s Next for Sony Pictures Animation with a conversation between Academy Award-winner Peter Ramsey (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), Matthew A. Cherry (Hair Love) and Karen Tolliver (SVP of Creative, Sony Pictures Animation). The Art of Directing panel will merge together directors from last year’s top films, Malcolm D. Lee (Night School), Steven Caple, Jr. (Creed II), George Tillman Jr. (The Hate You Give) and Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You) for a discussion about their creative process. NBCUniversal will present two exciting panels: The Story Behind the Music with Songland’s Ester Dean, an intimate conversation with Grammy-nominated songwriter Ester Dean (Pitch Perfect) covering her successful career and her role in finding the next great song and songwriter on “Songland.” Their dual panel, The Come Up: A Conversation with the Stars of NBC will feature Jocko Sims (New Amsterdam), Niles Fitch (This is Us), LaRoyce Hawkins (Chicago P.D.) and Ego Nwodim (SNL); Bravo Media Presents: Families & Black Love will discuss love, family and relationships with Porsha Williams (The Real Housewives of Atlanta), Karen Huger (The Real Housewives of Potomac) and Dr. Jaqueline Walters (Married to Medicine).

WarnerMedia’s panel will discuss all things “Claws” with My Journey from ABFF to the Claws Writing Room: The CinderFella Story of 2017 ABFF Award Winner Darrin Dortch with panelists Niecy Nash, Darrin Dortch, Janine Sherman Barrois and Eliot Laurence.

Accenture and Hilton will present The About Women panel with Iyanla Vanzant (Fix My Life), Tracy Oliver (Little, Girl’s Trip) and La La Anthony (Power), who will offer their personal in-depth experiences and perspectives on being women of color in Hollywood. The panel will be moderated by Emmy Award-winning journalist, Jemele Hill.

The ABFF screenings will feature The Bobby Debarge Story courtesy of TV One, a highly-anticipated tale of the eldest sibling of the world-famous pop group Debarge and his struggles with fame and fortune.

OWN presents two highly-anticipated dramas at the festival, with the episodic world premiere of “Ambitions,” helmed from executive producer Will Packer, featuring Jamey Giddens, Robin Givens, Essence Atkins, Brian White and Kendrick Cross. OWN’S second film, David Makes Man, from Oscar-winner Tarrell Alvin McCraney and executive producers Oprah Winfrey and Michael B. Jordan will be screened then followed by a talkback with McCraney, AKili McDowell (Criminal Activities), Phylicia Rashad (Empire), Dee Harris Lawrence (Unsolved) and Alana Arenas (Canal Street). IFC will highlight a new series, Sherman’s Showcase, produced by actors/writers Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin and executive produced by John Legend, a musical variety show that draws inspiration from “Solid Gold,” “Soul Train” and “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.”

Def Comedy Jam co-creator Bob Sumner will host the screening of his truTV show Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks, with DJ and comedian Cipha Sounds. This half-hour series, with the next generation of comedians, brings their hilarious personal stories to life with a playful reinvention of stand-up.

Director Matty Rich will celebrate the 25th anniversary of his film, “The Inkwell,” in the classic cinema section of the festival and will discuss the making of the film and its importance to film history.

For a full listing of panels and screenings coming to the 2019 American Black Film Festival, please continue to go to the website and also download the American Black Film Festival app TODAY on Apple and Google Play for festival updates.

ABFF remains committed to introducing emerging content creators of African descent to the industry at large and is recognized as one of the leading film festivals in the world. Passes are on sale at www.abff.com, and offer five (5) different levels of access to Festival events. Registration ends May 22nd for discounted rates and questions regarding registration may be directed to [email protected].

Sponsors of the 2019 American Black Film Festival are HBO® (Founding and Presenting Sponsor); BET Networks, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), Comcast NBCUniversal, Cadillac (Presenting Sponsors); Dream in Black | AT&T, Capital One Spark Business, Hilton, Prudential Financial, WarnerMedia (Premier Sponsors); AMC, American Airlines, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Netflix, Sony, TV One (Official Sponsors); Accenture, Aspire, Crown Royal, Gentleman Jack, Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority, OWN, Spotify, truTV, UMC – Urban Movie Channel, Verizon Media, Warner Bros. (Supporting Sponsors); ABC, Arrington & Phillips LLC., Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment, Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman Law Firm, Franklin Kurnit Klein & Selz PC, IFC Networks, SAGIndie (Industry Partners) and Black Enterprise, Blackfilm.com, Invest Atlanta (Media Partners).

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The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is an annual event dedicated to empowering 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. He ultimately envisioned it as a cornerstone of diversity in Hollywood. ABFF is the pre-eminent pipeline for black artists in front of and behind the camera, and ABFF has significantly expanded the range of talent working in entertainment. For more than two decades the festival has been a platform for emerging black artists — premiering the early work and showcasing the talent of many of today’s most successful actors, producers, writers, directors and stand-up comedians. As “the nation’s largest gathering of black film and television enthusiasts” the festival attracts a broad audience of A-list talent, emerging artists, upscale consumers and industry stakeholders. Approximately 7,000 to 10,000 people travel to Miami Beach each year for the event. The five-day festival opens with the premiere of an upcoming Hollywood release followed by independent film screenings, master classes, panels, celebrity talks, live entertainment, and a variety of networking and hospitality events.


Strategic Heights Media
Michelle Huff Elliott
[email protected]