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FILM LIFE AND HBO'S AMERICAN BLACK FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2006 OFFICIAL FILM SELECTIONS
10TH Anniversary Program Includes Narrative Features, Documentaries and Short Films
New York, New York, July 10, 2006 - The Film Life & HBO American Black Film Festival (ABFF) today announced its 2006 Official Film Selections and Invited Screenings, inclusive of festival premieres Shadowboxer starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Helen Mirren and Crossover starring Wayne Brady and Anthony Mackie. This year's program showcases a broad spectrum of independent cinema, including twenty world and festival premieres representing six countries. Celebrating its 10th year, the ABFF will be held from Wednesday, July 19 through Sunday, July 23, 2006, in South Beach, Miami, Florida.
"This year's film slate demonstrates ABFF's commitment to presenting quality films produced outside the studio system that we believe have mainstream appeal," said Jeff Friday, founder, ABFF, and president and CEO of Film Life, Inc. "In our tenth year, bridging the gap between independent cinema and Hollywood remains as vital as ever, and we continue to provide an international marketplace for producers and distributors to conduct business."
Festival films screen in five sections: American Features, International Features, Short Films, Documentaries, Invited/Special Screenings and prestigious competitions serve to spotlight and reward talented Black artists. ABFF Independent film awards are presented in the following categories: the Grand Jury Prize - Best Picture, presented by Kodak with a prize of $20,000 worth of film stock that is presented to the best feature-length film; the Audience Award for Best Performance by an Actor presented by Boost Mobile is awarded for the best performance by an actor in a film in either the American Features or International Features sections; the Audience Award for Best U.S. Feature, presented by Blockbuster with a prize of $20,000 to the best film of the festival selected by the festival's registered attendees; the "Voices of Color" Best Documentary Award presented by Wal-Mart with a prize of $20,000, a jury award presented for best the best nonfiction film of the festival; and the HBO Short Film Awards presented by HBO with a prize of $20,000, a jury award presented for the best short film of the festival.
New to the ABFF this year are a screenplay and digital commercial contest sponsored by AXE Bodyspray and Lincoln respectively. The AXE Black Filmmaker Series seeks original screenplays focusing on life experiences of young African American males. Three finalists were selected and each received a $5,000 cash prize/writer's fee and a production award of up to $35,000 to produce their films, which will debut at the festival. Automaker Lincoln introduces "Define Lincoln Luxury," a contest for the best 30-60-second digital commercial. The winner will be awarded the Lincoln Filmmaker Trophy and will receive a $10,000 cash prize or a 2-year lease on a 2006 Lincoln Zephyr.
Awards will be presented at the festival's culminating event, the ABFF Independent Film Awards scheduled to take place at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 23, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. The brunch ceremony will be hosted by comedic writer and actor Chris Spencer (ER, Two Can Play That Game, the Jaime Foxx Show). The 2006 ABFF Official Film Selections are:
Broken Rhyme, directed by Detdrich McClure (USA) 90 minutes. Rapper M1 discovers that success is hollow. A business trip to Japan leads to romance, a journey of self-awareness and a battle to keep the demons at bay. But as he attempts to change his life for the better, he discovers there is a heavy price to pay for turning his back on the dark forces that run the hip-hop music industry.
Confessions of a Call Girl (world premiere), directed by Lawrence Page (USA). A compelling story revealing a woman's struggle to create balance as she fights a secret addiction while struggling to save her family. On the surface Tory Adams (Tamala Jones) appears to have the perfect life (a thriving medical practice, successful attorney husband and an adorable daughter), but she finds herself caught in the grip of a double life as a high-priced call girl.
Dirty Laundry, directed by Maurice Jamal (USA) 100 minutes. A modern-day prodigal son story with major twists, Dirty Laundry follows a traditional Southern family dealing with secrets that are uncovered when the long-lost son (Rockmond Dunbar) suddenly returns home. In the center of the conflict is the mother (Loretta Devine), whose own story holds as much drama and secrecy as her son's.
The Engagement - My Phamily BBQ 2 (world premiere), directed by William Pierce (USA) 88 minutes. A romantic comedy about a Jewish boy (David) who proposes to the Black Baptist woman he loves (Mia) and the engagement party that ensues. Prior to their engagement, David's family has never set eyes on Mia. When David's and Mia's families meet and the differences between them become apparent, conflict and division arise.
Holla, directed by H.M. Coakley (USA) 86 minutes. Monica St. John, star of the popular sit-com "Baby Gurl," and six of her closest friends pile into her SUV and head for a weekend escape at Camp Diamond Creek, a remote cabin in the mountains. A relaxing break soon turns into a nightmare.
The Last Adam (world premiere), directed by Edford Banuel, Jr. (USA) 104 minutes. Six racially diverse childhood friends are forced to revisit their beleaguered pasts when they return to their hometown to plan the funeral of their Little League coach and mentor.
The Last Stand, directed by Russ Parr (USA) 109 minutes. Russ Parr's directorial debut, The Last Stand is a dramatic story of four would-be comedians struggling toward success. Starring Guy Torry, Darrin DeWitt Henson, Todd Williams and Tami Roman, the "drama of comedy" unravels through their lives.
Miles From Home, directed by Ty Hodges (USA) 97 minutes. Homeless on the streets of L.A., Miles Conway (Ty Hodges), 17, is introduced to a group of teenage prostitutes and seduced into a world of sex, money and drugs. When Miles meets free-spirited college student Natasha Freeman (Meagan Good), 19, he is torn between two worlds. His innocence is forever lost but now...will he choose life or death?
My Brother (world premiere), directed by Anthony Lover (USA) 103 minutes. An exciting and unusual movie, My Brother stars Vanessa Williams as a mother who must make life-altering choices affecting her two sons, one of whom is developmentally disabled. The bond of love she has nurtured between the boys as children is shattered as adults. The boys attempt to overcome impossible odds alone as they desperately seek to reunite.
Paved with Good Intentions (world premiere), directed by J. D. Cochran (USA) 118 minutes. After a corporate scandal provokes a murder/suicide, Rick sets out to shed light on the events surrounding his estranged brother's death. Along the way come revelations about his own past, and he must ultimately choose between proving his father wrong and shedding his own blinders to find the truth.
Premium, directed by Pete Chatmon (USA) 97 minutes. Cool is a struggling actor fed up with stereotypical African American roles. While pumping gas to make ends meet, he collides with his ex-fiancé after three years of silence. She is getting married in 36 hours. As the clock ticks away on his life, love and career, Cool stops looking at his watch and starts looking at himself.
Traci Townsend, directed by Craig Ross, Jr. (USA) 88 minutes. A beautiful and successful journalist interviews her three previous boyfriends to find out why they never proposed. Each interview comically teaches Traci more about herself than she would care to know.
The Unseen, directed by Lisa France (USA) 99 minutes. An African American man of quiet intensity, Roy Clemens (Steve Harris), returns home to confront his past and a secret he shares with his former best friend, white Confederate-raised Harold Dickerson (Gale Harold) and his blind brother Sammy (Phillip Bloch).
Desamores, directed by Edmundo H. Rodriguez (Puerto Rico) 108 minutes. A horrible massacre leaves the owners of an insurance company and its employees dead. Private investigator Isabelo is hired to uncover the truth. Desamores is a detective story that delves into an underworld of frayed relationships, foul connections, hidden secrets, passion and loathing.
Doomstown (world premiere), directed by Sudz Sutherland (Canada) 92 minutes. Jedi Barrows grew up in poverty in Jamestown Community - aka Doomstown. A simple mistake gets his best friend killed and pushes Jedi to make a choice between revenge and justice.
Johnny Was (festival premiere), directed by Mark Hammond (UK & Ireland) 90 minutes. This is a multiracial thriller about Jamaican gangsters, Irish revolutionaries and a Rastafarian pirate radio DJ thrown together in what turns out to be London's least safe "safe house," as the story's hero attempts to escape from Brixton and from his own violent past.
La Rebelle, directed by Sacha Parisot (Haiti) 93 minutes. A coming-of-age story about a sweet Haitian teenage girl who becomes an alcohol-drinking, drug-taking promiscuous teen when she finds her single dad with a new girlfriend. How far will she take her personal rebellion?
Rollin' with the Nines (festival premiere), directed by Julian Gilbey (U.K.) 96 minutes. An up-and-coming hip-hop group destined for success has its dreams shattered when one of its members is brutally murdered for unpaid street debts. Dropped by their record company and gripped by revenge, together with the deceased's sister they are sucked back into the world they had tried so hard to escape: an uncontrollable spiral into drugs, guns and street violence.
These selections compete for the HBO Short Film Award.
Mandingo in a Box, written and directed by Dahéli Hall (USA) 13 minutes, is a satire that takes an unorthodox look at romance and the Black woman's quest for the ever-elusive Black man. Hall holds a BFA in Theater from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and an MFA in Producing for Film and TV from USC. An actress, comic, writer and director, she is currently producing a documentary on gang violence, has been commissioned to write a screenplay about a female prison guard, and recently won a grant from the Miami Performing Center to develop a musical. Hall's first short, The Memo, was selected as an HBO Short Film finalist in 2004.
Pop Foul (world premiere), written, directed and executive produced by Moon Molson (USA) 15 minutes, is a coming-of-age story about a boy who begins to see his parents in a different light after witnessing an incident involving his father. Molson's career in the film industry includes work in production, post production and set building. He's written spec sitcom pilots and directed theater. He attended the Cinematography Program at The Los Angeles Film School and was an instructor of screenwriting and digital editing at The School of Cinema and Performing Arts in Los Angeles and the Berkshires.
Sin Salida (world premiere), written, directed and produced by A. Sayeeda Clarke (USA) 11:40 minutes, is the story of an elderly woman who is haunted by the choices she made in her youth. Clarke is a Dean's fellow and MFA candidate in Film at NYU. She has also studied directing at the Actor's Studio Drama School. Her works include the short film The Grey Woman, winner of the Verizon Broadband Films Competition, and a stage production she directed at the Gene Frankel Theatre. An accomplished photographer, Clarke's photos of Cuba and Italy where she traveled to study international filmmaking, have been exhibited.
Trespass, written and executive produced by Nelsan Narie Ellis and directed by Xandy Smith (USA) 13 minutes, is the story of a young man who tries to deal with his disturbed brother and the shocking truth about their father. Ellis, a recent graduate of the Julliard School, was a series regular on Fox's "The Inside" and featured in HBO Films' Warm Springs. He is the cofounder of Alabaster Productions and has written and directed a stage play, "UGLy." Smith has produced and directed several commercial spots for notable companies including Volkswagen, Nissan and Coca Cola. He directed the music video for Dubliner as well as his own film project, "Falling for Toby."
Winnie and the Duppy Bat (world premiere), written and directed by Annetta Laufer (UK 12 minutes), is the story of a young girl who tries to save her dying mother by confronting cultural superstitions. Laufer originally trained as a stage actress, then moved to directing theater before changing to film. She has also worked as a script editor and supervisor and has edited independent projects. Her first short, Dinner for One, was a finalist at the Aarrhus Film Festival in Denmark, which led to her first low-budget feature, Engelene ("Angels"), for Scandinavian TV. Laufer currently has a number of other film projects in development.
American Blackout, directed by Ian Inaba (USA) 94 minutes. While following the story of Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney from 2002 to 2004, American Blackout chronicles recurring patterns of disenfranchisement.
Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture, directed by Byron Hurt (USA) 62 minutes. Takes an in-depth look at machismo in rap music and hip-hop culture - where creative genius, poetic beauty and mad beats collide with misogyny, violence and homophobia.
If I Die Tonight (world premiere), directed by Seyi (USA) 94 minutes. Racial profiling, police brutality and the system that allows these enigmas to exist and persist, is the focus of this film as seen through the lives of those living on both sides of an impenetrable barrier.
Spit, directed by Rotimi Rainwater (USA) 94 minutes. Explore the world of spoken word through its heart and soul, the poets. Watch as Ove, Al Be Back, Shihan and Mollie follow their dreams through poetry.
Shadowboxer (festival premiere), directed by Lee Daniels (USA) 93 minutes and starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Helen Mirren is the festival's opening night film. When a female assassin is diagnosed with terminal cancer, she decides to carry out one final killing, assisted by her lover and stepson. Presented courtesy of CodeBlack Entertainment.
Crossover (festival premiere), directed by Preston A. Whitmore II (USA) 97 minutes, is a gripping urban drama set against the thrilling world of streetball. The story follows two young hopefuls, Tech (Anthony Mackie) and Cruise (Jonathan Wesley), who must bring every move they have to the floor to unseat the reigning champions from the throne they have held for far too long. Cast includes Wayne Brady and Eva Pigford. Presented courtesy Tri-Star.
The Will to Survive: The Story of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, directed by Al Hawkins, focuses on the last remaining "intact" Geechee community of Hog Hammock in Sapelo Island, Georgia. It has been called the most authentic African American community in the United States. In the present day, island villagers struggle to preserve their African culture and American property rights. The film explores the past, present, and precarious future of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and allows viewers a rare glimpse into the soul of Sapelo Island and the proud and mysterious Gullah/Geechee people. Presented by Wal-Mart "Voices of Color."
The Faces of H.I.V. (festival premiere), directed by Paul Eckstein, (USA) 30 minutes explores the staggering rate of HIV/AIDS rampaging through the African American community. The causes contributing to this pandemic are complex; homophobia, high rates of incarceration, lack of self-esteem in Black women, brothers on "the Down Low." Through heart-wrenching interviews, group discussions and stimulating visuals, Faces wakes up viewers to the terrifying reality - extinction of the Black race could happen.
The Forgotten City (world premiere), directed by Korey Green and Addison Henderson (USA) 72 minutes. The Forgotten City is a soul-stirring documentary exploring race relations, segregation, crime and politics in the city of Buffalo, New York. Through exclusive breathtaking footage and one-on-one interviews with many of Buffalo's citizens and some of its most influential leaders, The Forgotten City exposes the bitter truth about Buffalo and all inner cities. It challenges stereotypes, encourages change and shakes up the status quo.
Homie Spumoni (world premiere), directed by Mike Cerrone (USA) 88 minutes. A seemingly abandoned African American baby floats down an Italian river into the hands of newly wed Maria. Overjoyed, as she and her husband cannot have children together, Maria accepts the baby as a "gift from God." In order to provide a more racially diverse lifestyle for the child, they move to the United States "the great melting pot."
The Pact, directed by Andrea Kalin (USA) 84 minutes. The Pact is the story of three African American men from the inner city who overcame poverty, criminal records and crack-addicted parents to become doctors, and are now fighting to inspire the next generation to reclaim their dreams.
AXE Black Filmmaker Series (world premieres) (USA) is a contest initiated by AXE Deodorant Bodyspray focused on innovative story ideas about what life is really like on the dating scene for the everyday African American guy age 18-24. Three finalists' films will be premiered in a 75-minute special at the ABFF.
HBO is the festival's founding and title sponsor. Wal-Mart Voices of ColorTM is the ABFF's presenting sponsor. Platinum level sponsors are AXE Bodyspray, Boost Mobile, Kodak, Lincoln and Time Warner.
Other corporate supporters include American Airlines, Black Enterprise, BLOCKBUSTER, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) and VURV, Inc. (gold sponsors); CodeBlack Entertainment, The Daily Blossom Events, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Legacy Creative Group, Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council (TDC), Nickelodeon, Nielsen Media Research and Starbucks Coffee Company (silver sponsors). Media sponsors include AOL Black Voices, Black Noir, DVRepublic.com, EUR Web, 98.7 Kiss FM, KJLH, Landmine Design, Socialstep.com, S.W.A.T.S, Upscale magazine, Uptown magazine and V103, WPGC.
Home Box Office, Inc., is the premium television programming subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., providing two 24-hour premium television services, HBO and Cinemax. Together, both networks reach approximately 40 million subscribers in the United States via cable and satellite delivery.
Since its inception, the ABFF has explored, rewarded and redefined artistic excellence in international Black cinema. It has grown to be recognized as one of the premier film festivals in the world. Its film slate is primarily composed of world premieres positioning it as the #1 film market for Black and urban content. In addition to its film showcases, the ABFF is committed to nurturing artists in a variety of disciplines and offers educational workshops and seminars for actors, filmmakers and writers throughout the week. The event held during the summer months annually attracts 2,500 attendees.
The ABFF, founded by Jeff Friday in 1997, is a property of Film Life, Inc., a New York-based film marketing and distribution company. Its mission is to spearhead the global distribution of quality Black films and be the leading American brand producing Black movies and related entertainment content.
For more information about ABBF and a 2006 schedule of events, visit www.abff.com.
Chelsye. J. Burrows, ABFF Publicity
CJB Public Relations
212.966.2411, ext. 417, or 917.653.9440