Talent shines at American Black Film Fest

Talent shines at American Black Film Fest

Jahlisa Havery

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) held June 15 to 19 in South Beach, Miami this year, gathered a myriad of notable Black actors, directors, and screenwriters to discuss upcoming projects and the state of the industry for black creators.

In “A Conversation with” panel, the festival’s celebrity ambassador, rapper Common, highlighted the importance of such platforms to push the black creative community forward.

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“As black actors and directors, we’re not allowed to be mediocre.’ said Common during his discussion. “We have to strive for black excellence in order to open doors for others.”

Other celebrities who participated in the event included Nate Parker and Gabrielle Union, who both discussed their upcoming and anticipated release of “Birth of a Nation,” as well as Tichina Arnold, Cedric the Entertainer, Bishop T.D. Jakes, and Deon Cole.

In addition to the slew of big names and big film releases, the festival also sought to champion up-and-coming talents, particularly through the HBO Short Film Competition. One winner of the HBO HBO competition includes Jamaican-born Philiane Phang for her award-winning film “GUBAGUDE KO (Blood Is Upon Them),” which screened at the festival. The film tells the story of a man who witnesses a young woman’s rape, and struggled with the guilt of his inaction.

Phang was also one of ten filmmakers chosen for American Film Institute’s 2015 Directing Workshop for Women, and is currently in development with producer Angela C. Lee on her feature film, “The Space Between,” which was selected for the 2015 Sundance Producing Lab.

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