The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) continues its 22-years of providing a platform for storytelling and emerging filmmakers, by announcing the 2018 official selections in all screening categories.
From nearly 700 submissions, more than 40 films were selected for the 2018 ABFF lineup, representing a varied group of filmmakers. The list also includes five alumni filmmakers and four world premieres.
“ABFF attendees will experience groundbreaking works from a global selection of independent filmmakers. We are excited to showcase the films from our finalists this June in Miami Beach, Florida," says Lamonia Deanne Brown, Director of Programming at ABFF Ventures.
NARRATIVE FEATURES (In Competition)
Director:Logan Hall and Julian Jones Cast: Levenix Riddle, McKenzie Chinn, Phillip Edward Van Lear, Anita Chandwaney and Geno Walker
An artist gains the power to draw the future. When his girlfriend commits suicide, he learns he can erase the past, with chilling consequences. World Premiere
BEFORE THE VOWS/ Ghana
Director:Nicole Amarteifio Cast:John Dumelo, Maame Adjei and Nathaniel Kweku
Nii and Afua, a happy couple based in Ghana, devise an unconventional plan to ensure a long and happy marriage.
Director:Rhyan LaMarr Cast:Bryshere Y. Gray, Mykelti Williamson, Mekhi Phifer, Woody McClain and Jamie Hector
After a young mans is accused of murdering his classmates, his father, who is an attorney, defends him in court and struggles to hold onto his faith. World Premiere
JINN / U.S.A.
Director: Nijla Mu’min Cast:Zoe Renne, Simone Missick, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Hisham Tawfiq,
Kelly Jenrette, Ashlei Foushee, Damien Smith and Maya Morales
A shape-shifting, pepperoni-loving black teenage Instagram celebrity, exploresher identity and sexuality in the midst of her mother's conversion to Islam.
Director: Storm Saulter Cast:Dale Elliott, Kadeem Wilson, Shantol Jackson and Bryshere Y. Gray
A Jamaican teen hopes a meteoric rise in track and field can reunite him with his mother who has lived illegally in the U.S. for over a decade. World Premiere.
NARRATIVE SHOWCASE (Non-Competitive)
A BOY. A GIRL. A DREAM./ U.S.A.
Director: Qasim Basir Cast:Omari Hardwick, Meagan Good, Jay Ellis and Dijon Talton
On the night of the 2016 presidential election, Cass, an L.A. club promoter, takes a thrilling and emotional journey with Frida, a Midwestern visitor.
CHILDREN OF MUD/Nigeria
Director: Imoh Umoren Cast:Liz Benson, Matilda Obaseki and Bassey Ekpenyong
Children of Mudis a Nollywood story about love, hope and overcoming obstacles.
Director:Nicanson Guerrier Cast: Isaac Beverly, Sh’Kia Dennis and Kendall Mason
Set in the Miami landmark, Flea Market USA, we follow assistant manager Quentin Parker on what is supposed to be his last day at the flea market. World Premiere
Director: Carey Williams Cast: Darrell Lake, Jason Woods, Peter Pasco, Michael Segovia and Shaw Jones
A group of young Black and Latino boys come home to their worst nightmare: An unconscious White girl on the floor of their apartment. Faced with this emergency, they weigh the pros and cons of calling the police.
HAIR WOLF / U.S.A.
Director: Mariama Diallo Cast:Kara Young, Taliah Webster, Madeline Weinstein, Trae Harris and Jermaine Crawford
Set in a black hair salon in rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn, New York, the local residents fend off a strange new monster: white women intent on sucking the lifeblood from black culture.
MOTHS & BUTTERFLIES / U.S.A.
Director: Alfonso Johnson Cast: Amari Cheatom and Gillian Glasco
"Moths" follows Lenny, a socially awkward, schizoaffective man & Cherisse, a high-energy boundless soul, as they try to accept themselves in this New York tale about mental illness, love, and the longing to be understood.
DAYS AFTER YOUR DEPARTURE / Haiti, U.S.A.
Director: Sam Sneed Cast: Joekenneth Museau
After losing his mother to a years long battle with cancer, Joekenneth Museau is left to question the meaning of his own existence.
Director:Thembi L. Banks Cast: Kelli Jordan, Tiffany Tenille and Derick Anthony
Brandy, a high school tom boy, comes to terms with her sexuality when she decides what she’ll wear to the prom. At its core, this film tackles issues of sexuality, gender and the realities young, black women face as they come-of-age in modern society.
AVANT GUARDIANS /U.S.A.
Director: Clarence Williams, IV Cast:Alesia Etinoff and Zainab Johnson
A woke dramedy that covers a range of social justice topics such as mass incarceration, trans/homophobia, and bullying. The Guardian Angel to the 12 year-old future 3rdBlack President, Razz, is mandated to go to therapy with an ArchAngel, Dr. Hanniel.
THE YARD / U.S.A.
Director:John “Dr. Teeth” Tucker Cast:Fonzworth Bentley, Montrel Miller, Shaina Farrow, DJ Baby Yu and Korey Bryant
Set on the campus of Booker A&T, a fictional historically black university, The Yard, is an animated sitcom that follows the comical adventures of five freshmen. Together these flawed students are about to get their first taste of the real world and experience numerous missteps as they navigate college and life.
Director:Huriyyah Muhammad Cast:Reynaldo Piniella and Kenna Jackson
The story revolves around know-it all teenager Keloid, who is born with super abilities he neither wants nor is able to control and his strong-willed, overprotective mother, Marielle. Together they must find a way to survive Keloid's adolescence, while maintaining secrets that keep them safe, and hiding from mistakes in their past that haunt them.
BROOKLYNIFICATION / U.S.A.
Director: Keith Miller Cast: Karl Williams, Felecia Harrelson, Lamar Cheston and Tallie Medel
Brooklynificationis an uncomfortable comedy series about gentrification in New York’s most storied borough. This diverse cast of characters takes on the good, the bad, and the awkward as transforming neighborhoods face the unexpected encounters of Brooklyn’s rapidly changing streets.
I AM NOT CHARLOTTE/U.S.A.
Director:Jean Pierre Chapoteau Cast: Yani Simone and Darriel Violenes
Charlotte, a college student, discovers she is in love with Jake and is convinced that inviting him to dinner will seal the deal. Charlotte takes advice from a few people that she knows all too well to help her win over her crush.
FANTASTIC: THE LEGACY OF SLUM VILLAGE /U.S.A.
Directors: Moe Lynch Cast: T3, Baatin, J Dilla, Q-tip, Common, Sway and Elzhi
Fantastic tells the story of how three young men from the east side of Detroit formed one of the most underrated groups in hip hop history. From hustle to success through tragedy and breakups, the legacy of Slum Village lives on. World Premiere
NOT IN MY NEIGHBOURHOOD South Africa, Brazil, U.S.A.
Director:Kurt Orderson Cast:Real life citizens
Not in my Neigbourhoodgives the account of citizens on the frontline of the struggle against the intersectional nature of Gentrification from three seemingly World Class Cities: Cape Town, Sāo Paulo, and New York. It follows their daily struggles, trials and triumphant moments, as they try to shape the cities they live in, from the bottom up.
Director: Sam Pollard Cast:President Bill Clinton, Ambassador Andrew Young, Rev. Al Sharpton,
Mayor Kasim Reed, Mayor Shirley Franklin, Mayor Bill Campbell, Mayor Sam Massel, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Joseph Lowery
He was Obama before Obama, Maynard Holbrook Jackson became first black Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia in 1973 and this film is an exploration into a man who had dreams and ambitions to be a public servant for his people seeing that it was the next logical step in the journey that had been started by Dr. King and so many others who had blazed the trail during the years of horrific segregation.
EMERGING DIRECTORS - Section #1
UP NORTH U.S.A.
Directors:Emil Pinnock, Damaine Radcliff Cast:Eugene Clark, Ian Duff, Gabriel Ellis, Kris Lofton, Emil Pinnock, Damaine Radcliff
When it comes to the prison system, it’s just as hard getting out as going in. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, predators and prey fight to survive on the streets of Harlem and in the prisons of New York. Up North, an Independent Original Series for TV, explores systems of incarceration, and systems of marginalization in modern day America.
SEARCHING FOR ISABELLE /U.S.A.
Director: Stephanie Jeter Cast: Charlee Marie Cotton, Stephanie Stockstill, Aida Delaz, Gage Wallace, Joshua J. Volkers
While being held captive, Isabelle discovers a mysterious ability to project herself to the outside world. When she appears to her friends in a desperate appeal for help, they work together to try and find her - but time is running out.
LALO’S HOUSE/Haiti, U.S.A.
Director: Kelley Kali Cast:Garcelle Beauvais, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Jasmin Jean-Louis, Kyra Rose
Inspired by true events, two young sisters must escape a child sex trafficking
ring disguised as a Catholic orphanage after being taken from their home in Haiti.
Director:Aurora Ferlin Cast:Mickaëlle X. Bizet, Marta Cross, Mark Anthony Williams, Victor Rodriguez, Keena Ferguson
When the teenage son of Denise Matthews is murdered, she struggles not to surrender to her grief. Despite her husbands’ concerns, Denise is determined to confront the accused killer in court. The morning of the arraignment she finds support in a chance encounter with an unlikely stranger. World Premiere
EMERGING DIRECTORS - Section #2
PAS HONTEUX U.S.A.
Director:John D. Tucker Cast:Travis LaBranch, Leon Lamar, Javicia Leslie, LaToya Edwards
The story of a young African American slacker that wakes up one day speaking French. The film brings to light the fact that we not only judge people by their looks but also by the way they speak. So, what if a young urban African American suddenly speaks French? World Premiere
FRENCH FRIES U.S.A.
Director:Janine Sherman Barrois Cast: Rebecca Naomi Jones, Carl McDowellMAYNARD
A young, hip African-American foodie couple fights to resolvecommunication problems in a modern marriage of six years, four months and three and a half days. Sydney comes home to find that her husband, Jason, having an impromptuguys’ night. She winds up escaping to a hotel to work in silence, though that is not how the night unfolds. World Premiere
Director:Mark Anthony Green Cast:Rance Nix, Otmara Marrero, Kitty Cash, Sinead Bovell, David Deblinger
Oren got the email of his dreams—an invitation to a meeting his company's CEO. That is if he can actually make it to the meeting. As he navigates through New York City's decrepit public transportation, women who are out of his league, and a right-winged pedi-cab driver, he's faced with an even bigger obstacle: political correctness. World Premiere
Director: Otoja Abit Cast: Otoja Abit, Jason Patric, Walker Hare
Minutes before nuptials, a neurotic young man locks himself away in the back room of a church with the best man he knows.
EMERGING DIRECTORS - Section #3
A CRAFTSMAN /U.S.A.
Director:Sanford Jenkins Jr. Cast: Marvin Gay, Shirley Jordan, Leonard R. Garner Jr.
Overcome with grief, as his late wife’s presence permeates the space they once share, a rural woodworker builds a coffin to be his final resting place. Until a neighbor visits.
A FATHER’S LOVE / U.S.A.
Director:RonReaco Lee Cast:Terayle Hill, Adriyan Rae, Tichina Arnold, E Roger Mitchell
On the toughest day of his life, high school football stand-out Andrew is dealing with what teenagers go through and he has a difficult choice to make in regard to his girlfriend and her being pregnant. World Premiere
Directors: Donna Augustin-Quinn & Talibah L. Newman Cast:Aleksandr Krasnopolskiy, Anna Orlova, Eric Jennings, Hadiyah Robinson, Asha Winter, Eden Marryshow, Layla Silvestre, Sawandi Wilson, William Perry
In a community facing rapid gentrification, Bodega takes an intimate, yet comedic and dramatic, look at what can happen when people are made to feel like strangers in a city they helped build. When a middle class family moves into Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, an elder in the family says something inappropriate, causing the local African American community to take extreme measures in order to receive an apology.
Director:Randall Dottin Cast:Russell Hornsby, LaRoyce Hawkins, and Melissa Jackson
Indira holds onto her heartbreak like a lost treasure. It's hers and no one is going to tell her what to do with it. Her one-and-only love disappeared 18 months ago leaving her alone to take care of their son. Finally back on her feet with a new place and a new man, she’s ready for the next chapter when her child’s father shows up—making her question the very nature of the treasure she’s been holding onto for so long.
Director:Christopher Ortega Cast:Adrian Snow, Milena Phillips, Preston Butler, III, Kali Raquel
An Afrofuturist, sci-fi film about a mother and daughter living in isolation on a remote science compound who work to quickly patent the most human-like artificial intelligence on Earth. As prototype after prototype fail, Sol, who conducts empathy tests on her mother’s android creations, is pressured by her mom, Annette, to deliver a passing test or continue to be confined to the limits of the property. World Premiere
WHERE THE WATER RUNS /U.S.A.
Director: DuBois Ashong Cast: Darryl Dunning II, Bria Wade, Kyra Locke, Joseph Callari
Set during the worst drought in LA history a water transporter uncovers a plot to privatize South Central’s dwindling water supply.
June 13 - 17
Miami Beach — Various locations
$200 - $1,050
For a complete festival schedule and to purchase passes and tickets for events, panels and screenings visit the American Black Film Festival website.
Photos courtesy of American Black Film Festival.