The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) Founder, Jeff Friday, Has Announced the Return of the Pro-hollywood Initiative (PHI) to the 15th Annual Festival


Workshop Successful in Bridging Relationships between Professional Athletes and Filmmakers

NEW YORK, May 10, 2011 – The Pro-Hollywood Initiative (PHI) returns for a second year to The 15th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF), July 6 – 9, 2011 in Miami, FL. The Pro-Hollywood Initiative (PHI) is a program created to encourage professional athletes to explore careers in the motion picture industry. This year, ABFF Founder Jeff Friday, names Baltimore Ravens All-Pro Linebacker, Terrell Suggs, Sports Ambassador of this revolutionary initiative. With a film screening at Cannes this year, Suggs, has proven how influential the Pro-Hollywood Initiative has been to his growth as a serious filmmaker.

The program’s main objectives are to stimulate athletes’ interest in the movie business, connect them with talented filmmakers, educate them about the workings of the industry and promote their involvement in the production of quality independent films. The PHI master classes cover a variety of disciplines related to filmmaking, including screenwriting, directing, cinematography, producing, acting and film financing. Instructors are selected from among leading filmmakers, industry executives and professors at top-tier film schools.

This year’s PHI sophomore class will attend the following Film Life’s Master classes: Bill Duke’s “Actors Boot Camp,” Michael Elliot’s “From Script to Screen” and Robert Townsend’s “The Ultimate Pitch.” The program will conclude with a private roundtable luncheon to honor the 2011 professional athletes’ participation and provide them the opportunity to intimately gain valuable industry insight from these distinguished filmmakers and others face-to-face. Participation in the program is underwritten by the Film Life Foundation, Inc., a not for profit organization dedicated to fostering diversity within the motion picture and television industries

The PHI was inspired by the 2009 meeting between ABFF founder Jeff Friday and Baltimore Ravens All-Pro linebacker Terrell Suggs, who attended the festival for the first time that year after launching a film production company. Since that initial meeting Suggs has produced a total of four short-films, one of which is debuting this month at Cannes Film Festival titled When Beautiful People Do Ugly Things. This May, Suggs is set to begin production on his first feature length film entitled The Coalition which will explore the vast nuances between men and women in relationships.

“I am extremely humbled to serve as the very first Sports Ambassador of the Pro-Hollywood Initiative,” says Mr. Suggs. “Through the program’s comprehensive teachings and exposure to many of the most respected professionals in the industry, ABFF has provided me with a firm foundation in filmmaking which has enabled me to actively follow my own professional pursuits in the motion picture business. I am most grateful to Jeff for his groundbreaking vision and look forward to this year’s event.”

“Last year was a huge success,” stated festival Founder Jeff Friday. “But to personally witness the achievements of someone such as Terrell in such a short period of time further solidifies my own passion in providing this unique platform for professional athletes. It makes me proud.” Mr. Friday continues, “Terrell’s dedication and commitment to expand his horizons in filmmaking makes him the optimum Sports Ambassador and we are very happy to have bestowed this honor to such an incredible athlete and filmmaker. We hope to see more sports stars like Terrell engaged in the film arena as part of their off the field agendas, whether in front of or behind the camera.”

The Pro-Hollywood Initiative is by invitation and limited to 20 participants. Current or retired athletes from any professional sport are eligible. Past participants include: Terrell Suggs (Baltimore Ravens), Ikechuku Ndukwe (New York Giants), Jonathan Vilma (New Orleans Saints), Isaac Keys (retired Arizona Cardinals) and Hannibal Navies (retired San Francisco 49’ers). This innovative program will seek the support of player associations and major sports leagues, including the NFL, NBA, WNBA and MLB.

Program registration information can be obtained by contacting Ghana Wilson at [email protected] or by calling 646-375-2144, ext 5. Regular festival updates are available at www.abff.com.

HBO (Founding & Premier Sponsor); Grey Goose and Team Sizzle Worldwide (Premier Sponsors); the gmc Television Network, Cadillac, American Airlines, Gold Peak Tea, Wells Fargo and AT&T (Official Sponsors); The Nielsen Company, Nickelodeon, NBCUniversal, Codeblack Entertainment, Grab Networks and CNN (Supporting Sponsors); Miami Beach Visitor & Convention Authority and The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (Host Sponsors); CBS, Stella Artois, Writers Guild of America West, SAGIndie and FOX Searchlight Pictures (Diversity Partners). Media Sponsors include: Black Enterprise, The Michael Baisden Show and Uptown (Official Level); AOL Black Voices, Heart & Soul, Automotive Rhythms, Monarch and Precious Times (Supporting Level).

Established in 1997, the core mission of the ABFF is to promote cultural diversity within the motion picture industry. Through its film showcases and special contests, it annually introduces the top echelon of emerging artists to the film and television industry.

The ABFF is a property of Film Life, Inc., a New York-based event marketing, production and film distribution company founded in 2000 by Jeff Friday (CEO).

For media inquiries, contact The Sorensen McQueen Group – Lisa Sorensen or Chandra McQueen at (646) 330-5458 or via email at [email protected] or [email protected].