The 2022 American Black Film Festival (ABFF) returns as a hybrid with live events starting today, June 15th, and running through Sunday, June 19th (Juneteenth), in Miami, Florida, followed by virtual panels and screenings Monday, June 20th, through Thursday, June 30th, on the festival’s custom-built online platform, ABFF PLAY (https://abffplay.com/). The Features program includes Narrative competitions (U.S. and international), World Premieres and first-time directors representing a diverse group of independent filmmakers from around the globe.
The festival opens with the documentary “CIVIL,” about the life of civil rights attorney Ben Crump. He is the civil lawyer for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Black farmers and banking while Black victims. The film is directed and produced by award-winning filmmaker Nadia Hallgren (“Becoming”, “After Maria”, “The Show”). Co-produced by Kenya Barris, Roger Ross Williams and Lauren Cioffi, the Netflix release of “CIVIL” will premiere on Juneteenth this year.
“We are thrilled to open the festival with ‘CIVIL’ a timely documentary bringing light to issues of social justice and equity in America,” said Nicole Friday, festival producer and president of ABFF Ventures LLC. “We’ve curated an entertaining and thought-provoking lineup of features, documentaries and web series and I am so excited to share our content with a live audience again.”
Issa Rae (“Insecure”) will serve as this year’s festival ambassador. The festival says that Rae will help bring media awareness to ABFF’s 26-year legacy of showcasing Black talent and discovering new voices. Along with joining festival founders, Jeff and Nicole Friday onstage for welcome remarks during opening night, Rae will screen her highly anticipated television series “RAP SH!T”, which she created for HBO Max as part of the festival’s Saturday night lineup. “I’m honored to be this year’s Festival Ambassador,” said Issa Rae. “ABFF was the first major festival to showcase my work and they continue to elevate Black creatives from the ground level. It’s also fun as hell.”
In his Founder’s Statement, Jeff Friday said: “When we began the ABFF with the mission to support artists and inspire creativity to strengthen the Black entertainment community and garner long overdue recognition from Hollywood, we never conceived that it would grow into a global celebration of Black culture, pride, achievement and power. It is an exciting time to be Black and talented in the entertainment business”
Other live spotlight screenings scheduled for this year include a sneak peak of Prime Video’s “A League of Their Own” starring Chanté Adams; Onyx Collective and ABC News Studio’s “Aftershock,” a film that explores America’s maternal health care crisis; A&E’s “Right to Offend: The Black Comedy Revolution,” an exploration documenting how Black comedians used laughter to push social boundaries and cultural change; a first look at The SpringHill Company’s “After Jackie” documentary from Emmy Award winning and Academy Award nominated filmmaker Stanley Nelson and critically-acclaimed director Andre Gaines premiering on the HISTORY Channel.
The joint annual Community Day Showcase, held in partnership with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, will take place on Juneteenth from 12pm to 6pm at the Historic Lyric Theater, 819 NW 2nd Avenue in Miami. This year’s a robust slate of speakers include Kenya Barris, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Trevante Rhodes, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Kyla Pratt, Judge Greg Mathis, Naturi Naughton and DeVon Franklin. On June 17th, the Fierce Female Filmmakers of TriStar Pictures panel will feature a conversation with trailblazing directors Gina Prince-Bythwood (“The Woman King”), Kasi Lemmons (“I Wanna Dance With Somebody”) and Nicole Brown (president of TriStar Pictures), who will discuss their upcoming releases and present a sneak peak of the films.