Check Out the 26 Projects Screening at The 2023 American Black Film Festival…So Far

2023 abff line up

The 2023 American Black Film Festival is back and ready to shine brighter than ever before! This year, the festival has received a record-breaking number of submissions from the US, UK, and Mexico, making it the perfect platform to showcase diverse and empowering stories from emerging filmmakers. From June 14-18, Miami Beach, Florida, will be buzzing with excitement as ABFF 2023 rolls out a star-studded lineup of feature films from rising and upcoming talents worldwide.

READ: 2023 Tribeca Film Festival: 30 Projects Directed or Starring Black or Brown Talent in Prominent Roles

The festival is split into two competition categories, Narrative Features (US and International) and Documentary Features, featuring a stacked lineup of world premiere films over the course of a few days. Films in the narrative category are eligible for several Jury Awards, including Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Narrative Feature. Documentary films are eligible for the Jury Award for Best Documentary. The festival will also honor and celebrate the competing films with the Best of ABFF Awards event on June 17, hosted by the talented actor and author Dondré Whitfield.

Excitingly, this year’s festival has acclaimed American screenwriter, producer, and actress Lena Waithe as its ambassador, adding her passion and energy to the event with ABFF 2023’s opening film, ‘They Cloned Tyrone’, featuring a star-studded cast including John Boyega, Jamie Foxx, and Teyonah Parris. With the festival showcasing a wide range of black storytellers and diverse voices, ABFF provides a unique platform for filmmakers to showcase their work to an enthusiastic audience and potential buyers.

READ: From ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ to ‘Cinnamon’: New TV and Movie Trailers Released This Week [Apr 17]

The festival’s Series and Voices of Cultures non-competitive lineup, along with finalists for the prestigious HBO® Short Film Award will be announced at a later date.

This is an opportunity you won’t want to miss! Witness the best and brightest talents from the world of film and television come together in one of the most exciting events of the year. To learn more about attending the festival, click the link (https://www.abff.com/miami/). Keep scrolling to discover more exceptional stories from emerging filmmakers.


spotlight-They-Cloned-Tyrone 2023 ABFF LINE UP

They Cloned Tyrone | June 14, 2023 | 7:45 PM

A series of eerie events thrusts an unlikely trio (John Boyega, Jamie Foxx and Teyonah Parris) onto the trail of a nefarious government conspiracy.
Director(s): Juel Taylor
Writer(s): Tony Rettenmaier, Juel Taylor
Producer(s): Charles D. King, MACRO, Stephen “Dr.” Love, Tony Rettenmaier, Juel Taylor, Jamie Foxx, and Datari Turner
Cast: John Boyega, Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris
Courtesy of Netflix

spotlight-YouTube-Black-Voices-Festival-Showcase 2023 abff line up

The YouTube Black Voices Festival Showcase | June 15, 2023 | 1:00 PM

“The YouTube Black Voices Festival Showcase” features highlights of original short films from Black Voices creators. In Black Girl Day Off, Baby Tate wants Black women to take a day off and imagines how the world would crumble if they all did simultaneously. Armani White revisits his home and past mistakes in Proud of You. Conscious Lee explores the world of Black fine art through the lens of Afrofuturism. June’s Crown, a short film by Glen’ Beleaf’ Henry, follows a young girl’s journey to loving her hair.
Courtesy of YouTube Black Voices

spotlight-Donyale-Luna-Supermodel 2023 ABFF LINE UP

Donyale Luna: Supermodel | June 15, 2023 | Time TBD

Donyale Luna: Supermodel explores the remarkable life and career of Donyale Luna, one of the first Black supermodels who graced the covers of both Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in Europe. Today, most people have never heard of her. Born Peggy Anne Freeman in Detroit, Donyale Luna went on to revolutionize the fashion industry in the 1960s and 1970s, becoming the muse to some of the foremost photographers of the 20th century until her untimely death at the age of 33 in 1979.
Director(s): Nailah Jefferson
Producer(s): Melissa Kramer, Isoul Harris, Melanie Sharee
Executive Producers: Jonathan Chinn, Simon Chinn, Jeff Friday, Dream Cazzaniga
Cast: Dream Cazzaniga, Beverly Johnson, Omar Boone, Kyle Hagler
Courtesy of HBO Documentary Films

spotlight-The-Blackening 2023 ABFF LINE UP

The Blackening | Thursday, June 15 | 4:00 PM

“The Blackening” is a horror movie about a group of black friends who reunite for a Juneteenth weekend getaway but end up trapped in a remote cabin with a twisted killer. The movie questions the traditional genre tropes and poses the question: if the entire cast of a horror movie is black, who dies first?
Director(s): Tim Story
Writer(s): Tracy Oliver, Dewayne Perkins
Producer(s): Jason Clark, Marcei A. Brown, E. Brian Dobbins, Tracy Oliver, Tim Story, Sharla Sumpter Bridgett
Cast: Grace Byers, Jermaine Fowler, Melvin Gregg, X Mayo, Dewayne Perkins, Antoinette Robertson, Sinqua Walls, Jay Pharoah, Yvonne Orji

spotlight-Three-Ways 2023 abff line up

Three Ways | Thursday, June 15 | 6:45 PM

“Three Ways” is a sex comedy about Stacey Johnson, who decides to have a threesome with her new boyfriend and a mysterious woman she has never met, to take control of her life and conquer her fears. However, things go wrong in unexpected ways.
Director(s): Jamal Dedeaux
Writer(s): Jamal Dedeaux
Producer(s): Jaleel Ghafur, Rebecca Haze, Jamal Dedeaux
Cast: Andrea Lewis, Brittany S. Hall, Jerrel O’Neal

spotlight-Exposing-Parchman 2023 ABFF LINE UP

Exposing Parchman | Friday, June 16 | 1:00 PM

“Exposing Parchman” is an investigative documentary that explores the efforts to reform the Mississippi correctional system led by a team of attorneys on behalf of the inmates of Parchman Prison. The film tells the inside stories of the families, the legal team, and Roc Nation across three years of legal battles to end the deadly conditions for those incarcerated at Parchman.
Director(s): Rahman Ali Bugg
Writer(s): Jeanmarie Condon
Producer(s): Jeanmarie Condon
Executive Producer(s): Rahman Ali Bugg, Jordana Hochman, Jeanmarie Condon, Desiree Perez, Lori York, Elaine Frontain Bryant, Shelly Tatro, Brad Abramson
Cast: N/A

First Look at Upcoming BET+ Dark Comedy 'Average Joe' Led by Deon Cole

Average Joe | June 16, 2023 | 4:00 PM

Inspired by the life of creator Robb Cullen, “Average Joe” is a darkly comedic, intense one-hour drama set in “The Hill” district of Pittsburgh. Blue-collar plumber, Joe Washington, discovers his recently deceased father lived a secret second life and stole millions of dollars from dangerous people just before he died. Now those people think Joe knows where the money is. A bloody and violent confrontation triggers a chain of events that force Joe and his close-knit circle of family and friends out of their very average and mundane lives into a life-or-death race against time to find the truth and the millions.
Cast: Deon Cole, Tammy Townsend, Malcolm Barrett, Cynthia Kaye McWilliams, Michael Trucco, Ashley Olivia Fisher, Pasha Lychnikoff | Directors: Eric Dean Seaton, Christoph Schrewe, Marshall Tyler, David Katzenberg, Joy T. Lane | Writers: Robb Cullen, Scott Boden Hodges, Tyrone Finch, Arthur Harris, Bryce Ahart, Hawa Macalou, Paul McLalin, D.J. Ryan, Stephanie McFarlane, Jerron Horton, Kevin O’Hare | Executive Producers: Robb Cullen, McG, Mary Viola, Corey Marsh | Produced by: Wonderland Sound and Vision


first look the perfect find

The Perfect Find | June 16, 2023 | 8:00 PM

After a high-profile firing, Jenna’s (Gabrielle Union) fashion career comeback hits a snag when she falls for a charming, much younger coworker (Keith Powers) who happens to be her boss’ son. As sparks fly, Jenna must decide if she’ll risk it all on a secret romance.
Cast: Gabrielle Union, Keith Powers, Aisha Hinds, DB Woodside, Janet Hubert, Alani “La La” Anthony, Gina Torres | Director: Numa Perrier from a screenplay by Leigh Davenport | Producers: Glendon Palmer, Gabrielle Union, Jeff Morrone, Codie Elaine Oliver, Tommy Oliver | Based on the book of the same title, by Tia Williams


Time of Essence | June 17, 2023 | 1:00 PM

“Time Of Essence” is a five-part documentary series highlighting how ESSENCE Magazine has informed and reflected Black culture in America over the past 50 years. Each episode covers a different decade – from the ’70s to today – and features first-hand commentary on that era’s biggest moments from the icons, trailblazers, staffers, and leaders who lived and defined them. This candid commentary is coupled with never-before-seen footage and exclusive behind-the-scenes moments from the worlds of entertainment, sports, politics, fashion, and beauty.
Executive Producers: Christian Sarabia, Nicole Elliott, Raymond Garcia, Emmet Dennis, Sidra Smith, Barkue Tubman-Zawolo, and Stephanie Hodges-Dunivan | Produced by: 51 Minds and ESSENCE Studios, LLC


A Mother’s Intuition | June 17, 2023 | 4:00 PM

A young, pregnant woman grieving the sudden death of her husband is told that her baby was stillborn; but she suspects a switched-at-birth cover-up, implicating the very doctors trusted to care for her.
Director(s): Cas Sigers-Beedles
Writer(s): Nicole D. Sconiers
Producer(s): Dr. Holly Carter of Relevè Entertainment
Cast: Denise Boutte, Matt Cedeño, Brély Evans, Hazel Renee, Tamar Braxton, Jeff Marchelleta, and Karon Riley


I’m a Virgo | June 17, 2023 | 5:00 PM

From visionary filmmaker Boots Riley, “I’m a Virgo” is a fantastical coming-of-age joyride about Cootie (Jharrel Jerome), a 13-foot-tall young Black man who lives in Oakland, California.
Creator, Writer, Director: Boots Riley
Cast: Jharrel Jerome, Allius Barnes, Brett Gray, Kara Young, Olivia Washington, Walton Goggins, Carmen Ejogo, and Mike Epps
Executive Producers: Boots Riley, Tze Chun, Michael Ellenberg, Lindsey Springer, Rebecca Rivo, and Jharrel Jerome
Showrunners: Boots Riley, Tze Chun


spotlight-Found abff

Found | June 17, 2023 | 6:45 PM

This twisty and timely drama follows PR specialist Gabi Mosely (Shanola Hampton) and her crisis management team as they search for missing people from marginalized groups who do not typically receive widespread media attention, as she was once one of the forgotten ones. But unbeknownst to anyone, this everyday hero is hiding a chilling secret of her own.
Cast: Shanola Hampton, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Kelli Williams, Brett Dalton, Gabrielle Walsh, Arlen Escarpeta, and Karan Oberoi
Creator: Nkechi Okoro Carroll
Showrunners: Nkechi Okoro Carroll and Sonay Hoffman
Courtesy of: Comcast NBCUniversal and NBC


A Song from the Dark | UK | 103 min

After the mysterious death of her husband, a woman with a dark family secret hires a spirit-hunter to expel a spirit tormenting her family.
Director(s): Ogo Okpue
Writer(s): Ogo Okpue
Producer(s): Ogo Okpue
Cast: Vanessa Vanderpuye, Nse Ikpe Etim, Wale Ojo, Garcia Brown, Paul Coster

CINNAMON 2023 Tribeca Film Festival- 25 Projects Directed or Starring Black Talent in Prominent Roles

Cinnamon | USA | 91 min

Jodi, a gas station attendant with killer pipes and big dreams (Hailey Kilgore), falls hopelessly in love with a hustler (David Iacono), only to fall foul of a local crime lord (Pam Grier) and her murderous family.
Director(s): Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr.
Writer(s): Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr.
Producer(s): Oz Scott, Kevin Garnett
Cast: Damon Wayans, Pam Grier, Hailey Kilgore, David Iacono

Jagged Mind | USA | 88 min

When Billie starts dating a mysterious new girlfriend, she is plagued by blackouts and strange visions that lead her to discover she’s stuck in a series of time loops.
Director(s): Kelley Kali
Writer(s): Allyson Morgan
Producer(s): David Worthen Brooks, Arbi Pedrossian, Jenna Cavelle, Daniela Ruiz, Kelley Kali, Congyu E
Cast: Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Shannon Woodward

Million to One | USA | 73 min

Dre Shaw reluctantly puts his life as a social media rising star on hold to return home for his brother’s wedding, only to go from family liability to savior.
Director(s): Harold Jackson
Writer(s): Harold Jackson
Producer(s): Harold Jackson, Elena Lake, Laketa Bailey, Tsedey Aragie
Cast: Rob Gordon, Ashley Rios, Michael J Patterson, Briana Cortesiano

Murder City | Mexico| 85 min

After losing his job on the police force, Neil (Mike Colter) is forced to work with the city’s most ruthless kingpin, Ash (Stephanie Sigman), to settle the debts of his estranged father, Graham (Antonio Fargas).
Director(s): Michael D Olmos
Writer(s): Michael D Olmos
Producer(s): Oz Scott, Kevin Garnett
Cast: Mike Colter, Stephanie Sigman, Antonio Fargas, Medina Senghore

Phels High *World Premiere | USA | 85 min

Loyalty amongst friends isn’t always the case, when your life is on the line.
Director(s): Kevin J. Nelson
Writer(s): Kevin J. Nelson
Producer(s): Kevin J. Nelson, Michael Arcell, Rovelt Laforet
Cast: Omari Hardwick, Elise Neal, Michael Hyatt, TJ Atoms, Allen Maldonado

Playing Sam *World Premiere | USA | 89 min

When a Latina actress struggles to stand out from the stereotypical role, she channels her turbulent love life to book the character of her dreams.
Director: Ramon Pesante
Writers: Ramon Pesante, Jenni Ruiza
Producers: Jessica Hernandez, Jenni Ruiza, Elaine del Valle, Michelle Johnson, Marc Reign, Burton Lewis
Cast: Jenni Ruiza, Marc Reign, William McDermitt, Phyllis Salaberrios

Summer of Violence *World Premiere | USA | 104 min

Refusing law school to pursue poetry, a sheltered college grad, cut off from her father’s money, struggles to survive while living in Denver during the Summer of Violence in 1993.
Director: Nicki Micheaux
Writer: Nicki Micheaux
Producers: Efuru Flowers, Nicki Micheaux, Sean Riggs
Cast: Kasey Inez, Damon Gupton, Jahking Guillory


Bad Things Happen in Philadelphia *World Premiere | USA | 69 min

Bad Things Happen in Philadelphia is a full-length documentary focusing on the effects of gun violence on young men, women & mothers living in Philadelphia.
Director: Kyra Knox
Producer: Kyra Knox
Executive Producers: Allen Iverson, Mark Mims
Cast: Garry Mills, Wynter Bess, Kalil Camara, David King

Betye Saar: Ready to be a Warrior | USA | 77 min

Filmed over the course of 8 years, this documentary is a love letter to famed LA artist Betye Saar as she navigates life as a Black Woman artist.
Director: Angela Robinson Witherspoon
Producers: Angela Robinson Witherspoon, Abdul Malik Abbott
Cast: Betye Saar, John Legend, CCH Pounder, Alison Saar, Lezley Saar

Birthing Justice | USA | 86 min

America’s medical establishment has turned giving birth into a battleground for Black women and their babies
Director: Monique N. Matthews
Writers: Jacoba Atlas, Monique N. Matthews
Producer: Sasheen Artis
Cast: Allyson Felix

Black Barbie: A Documentary | USA | 100 min

Through intimate access to a charismatic Mattel Insider, Beulah Mae Mitchell, Black Barbie delves into the cross-section of merchandise and representation as Black Women strive to elevate their own voices and stories, refusing to be invisible.
Director(s): Lagueria Davis
Writer(s): Lagueria Davis
Producer(s): Aaliyah Williams, Lagueria Davis
Cast: Beulah Mae Mitchell, Kitty Black Perkins, Stacey McBride-Irby, Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins, Gabourey Sidibe, Julissa Calderon

Gaining Ground: The Fight for Black Land *World Premiere | USA | 96 min

From Executive Producer Al Roker, Gaining Ground: The Fight for Black Land answers the question; why has black ownership of farmland dwindled to alarmingly low numbers, and examines the causes, effects, and solutions to the issue of Heirs’ Property.
Director(s): Eternal Polk
Writer(s): Eternal Polk
Producer(s): Chimene Williams, Denise Hurst Green, Francisco Newman
Executive Producers: Al Roker & Eternal Polk

Higher Power *World Premiere | USA | 64 min

Higher Power uses the stories of Black Washingtonians fighting to enter the legal cannabis industry to reveal the stark reality of 700,000 disenfranchised Americans living in Washington, D.C. and the urgent need for D.C. Statehood.
Director(s): Dewey Ortiz Jr.
Writers: Rafi Aliya Crockett, Dewey Ortiz Jr.
Producer: Rafi Aliya Crockett
Cast: Eleanor Holmes Norton, Queen Adesuyi, David Gross, Jason Alrich, JohnChe Larracuente

Locked Out | USA | 87 min

Owning a home—the cornerstone of generational wealth—is increasingly out of reach for people of color. In Detroit, a group of Black women fight against scammers, evictions, and traditional banks to help make The American Dream a reality for all.
Directors: Kate Davis, Luchina Fisher
Producer: Rupert Maconick
Cast: Soummer Crawford, Geraldine Smith-Bey, Niaja Rutledge

National Battle of the Bands, Salute To HBCU Marching Bands *Festival Premiere | USA | 42 min

History, Culture, Pomp, and Circumstance. From football halftimes to battles in the stands. So, you think you know all there is to know about HBCU Marching Bands… Well think again!
Director(s): Reggie Scott
Writer(s): Reggie Scott
Producers: Reggie Scott, Derek Webber
Cast: Derek Webber, Dr. Charles McClelland, Chauncey Hamlett, Dr. Julian White, Dr. Michael Magruder, Donovan Wells, Warren Duncan, Kedrick Taylor, Jared White

Riding Legacy (An Oklahoma Black Cowboy Story) | USA | 60 min

Cowboy culture as the past, present, and future of black Oklahomans.
Directors: Kian Taylor, James “Videohero” Ridley
Writer: Nicole Jocleen
Producer: Nicole Jocleen
Cast: Danell Tipton, Tory Johnson, Kandra Demery, Ronnie Davis, Da’Mon Hopkins

The Five Demands | USA | 74 min

“The Five Demands” tells the dramatic but little known story of the 1969 student strike that changed the face of higher education.
Directors: Greta Schiller, Andrea Weiss
Producers: Greta Schiller, Andrea Weiss
Executive Producer: Stanley Nelson
Cast: Henry Arce, Francee Covington, Dorothy Randall Gray, Charles Powell

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