Florida Governor Jeb Bush Salutes ABFF and ABFF Filmmakers & Honorees, Following Festival’s Successful Inaugural Run in South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida, with Stars Chris Tucker, Robert Townsend, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Delroy Lindo, Sanaa Lathan, John Singleton, Mekhi Phifer, Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson and more
SOUTH BEACH, FL – The sixth annual “American Black Film Festival” (ABFF) announced the winners of its 2002 competitions during the recent ABFF Awards Show presented by Lincoln and co-hosted by Robert Townsend and Shaun Robinson at the Jackie Gleason Theatre, June 29, in South Beach, Miami Beach, FL. The star-studded gala culminated ABFF’s five-day festival event, beginning June 26, and staged at various area sites. (Formerly called the Acapulco Black Film Festival, the annual celebration honors artistic excellence in Black cinema and features competitive film showcases, workshops, panel discussions, forums, Bill Duke’s legendary Actors Boot Camp and more.)
“Florida is proud to host the American Black Film Festival,” said Governor Jeb Bush. “Our state’s cultural diversity as well as our connection with the film industry make this the perfect venue to celebrate African-American achievement in film. We intend to build on our relationship with the ABFF as it further expands and develops in the coming years. We also believe that Hollywood has just scratched the surface of the creative energy of the Sunshine State, and we are committed to making Florida a haven for filmmakers.”
This year’s awards included the top HBO Short Film Award, the Lincoln Filmmaker Trophy, the first Blockbuster Audience Award for Best Feature Film and five ABFF celebrity honors, including Best Actress and Best Actor Awards and the previously announced Rising Star and Career Achievement Awards.
“The Riff,” directed and written by Mark Allen, and starring Antonio Fargas and Nia Peebles, won the Lincoln Filmmaker Trophy Award. The HBO Short Film Award, with a grand prize of $20,000, went to “Quest to Ref” directed and written by Benjamin Watkins, who also starred in the film. “Civil Brand,” directed by Emmy Award winner Neema Barnette, took the Blockbuster Audience Award for Best Feature Film.
Producer Roger M. Bobb accepted the Lincoln Filmmaker Trophy and also received a two-year lease on a Lincoln Navigator.
The Audience Award for Best Performance by an Actress went to Monica Calhoun for her outstanding performance in “Pandora’s Box,” a nominee for Best Feature Film at this year’s ABFF. Clifton Powell won the Audience Award for Best Actor for his performance in “Civil Brand,” which also featured Ms. Calhoun.
In a special, moving tribute to the work and artistry of industry veteran Robert Townsend, actors Chris Tucker and Keenen Ivory Wayans surprised Mr. Townsend with ABFF’s 2002 Career Achievement- Male Award.
As previously announced, Mekhi Phifer won the “Rising Star” Award and costumer Ruth E. Carter, a two-time Academy Award nominee, the Career Achievement Award-Female. Director John Singleton and actress Sanaa Lathan presented to Ms. Carter, and Delroy Lindo, to Mr. Phifer.
Other presenters in various categories included: Nicole Ari Parker, Boris Kodjoe, Anthony Anderson and Kenya Moore. Also during the world-acclaimed Creative Outlet Dance Theater performed original work under the direction of Jamal Gaines at this year’s ABFF Awards Show.
“We are deeply thankful for the continuing support of our founding sponsor, HBO, and our Platinum sponsor, Lincoln, as well as that of our many friends including Robert Townsend, Bill Duke, Chris Tucker and Keenen Ivory Wayans,” said Jeff Friday, President & CEO, Film Life, Inc. and Executive Producer of the American Black Film Festival. “It is because of this allegiance and loyalty that ABFF has become the premiere multicultural film festival in the world.”
“The unwavering support of HBO and Lincoln now combined with that of our host, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Don Peebles and the Royal Palm Crowne Plaza Resort and the Loews Hotel have made South Beach the new home of ABFF,” said Byron E. Lewis Sr., ABFF founder and Chairman/CEO, UniWorld Group, Inc. “The vast array of cultures represented in Miami will serve as the perfect template for the future of the Festival and our hope to create a year-round multicultural filmmaking center.”
The Lincoln Filmmaker Trophy winner “The Riff” is a story about friendship and betrayal, of youth and age and one man’s struggle to come to terms with his tragic path set against the backdrop of the New Orleans jazz scene. The film stars Antonio Fargas as an aging New Orleans jazz musician and Nia Peeples as the girlfriend of the musician’s agent.
The Blockbuster Audience Award film “Civil Brand” is a hard-edged hip-hop tale about young Black women caught up in abuse and exploitation, and the reality of prisons as modern-day plantations. The women discover that a corporation is paying for the entire “plantation setup” and making huge profits off their slave labor. Ms. Barnette directed from a script by Joyce Lewis and Preston Whitmore. The cast includes LisaRaye, Mos Def, N’Bushe Wright, Monica Calhoun, Da Brat, MC Lyte, Clifton Powell (who won the 2002 Best Actor Award for his performance in this film) and Tichina Arnold. Jeff Clanagan is executive producer of “Civil Brand” which received a $15,000 prize from Blockbuster, Inc.
HBO is the founding sponsor of ABFF. Lincoln is the Platinum sponsor. Other major sponsors are: The Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau; Upscale Magazine, BET Pictures, Blockbuster, Essence, Regal Cinemas, Vibe, ABC, American Airlines, Black Enterprise, Daily Blossom, Daily Variety, Enyce, Martell, Nielsen Media Research, UrbanWorks Entertainment, VH1 and the Florida Governor’s Office of Film & Entertainment.
Founded by Byron E. Lewis Sr. in 1997, the mission of The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is to redefine, discover and honor artistic excellence in Black cinema. ABFF provides an unprecedented platform for Black filmmakers at these festivals and now attracts an annual attendance of more than 2500 people. Participants and honorees in the past five years have included Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, Pam Grier, Debbie Allen, Suzanne De Passe, John Singleton and Robert Townsend.