Film makers with a viewpoint on the Black experience need to look no further than the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in 2014.
Now in it’s 18th year, the festival is calling for submissions of feature films and documentaries for next year’s event scheduled to take place in New York City June 19-22.
The deadline for submissions is Feb.7 for fact-based documentaries events and Mar. 10 for feature films, festival founder Jeff Friday said he’s looking forward to seeing Black stories play out on the big screen once again.
“We talk about Hollywood, and then we talk about ‘Black Hollywood,’” said Friday.
“The reality is that there is only one Hollywood and Black things tend to get marginalized. Part of our goal is to promote our inclusive mission.”
“Hollywood is our network and it’s almost impossible for you to be in business if people don’t know you and you don’t know people,” Friday told the AFRO.
Submissions for the film festival must have either a Black lead or an individual of African descent in the role of director, writer, or producer. This includes any member of the African Diaspora, though subtitles are also required if the film is not done in the English language.
Feature films must run at least 72 minutes and documentaries should be a minimum of 45 minutes. The work must also have been created after Jan.1 2013 and can only be submitted online at the ABFF website www.abff.com, or www.Withoutabox.com.
Films submitted also should have no prior “commercial theatrical or television play or broadcast on the internet and must not have distribution,” according to submission rules.
Friday said he is looking forward to seeing the festival create a platform for artists one more year. He first received the vision for the American Black Film Festival in 1997 while attending the acclaimed Sundance Film Festival.
A highlight for him that year was watching director Theodore Witcher ‘s Love Jones take home the Audience Award for a dramatic feature, and it got Friday thinking about the best way to publicly showcase Black screenplays.
Though he loved the experience, and the Sundance films shown, Friday said there was a lack of diversity when it came to attendees, participants, and a majority of films that were shown.
Within five months, he had created his own company, Film Life, Inc., and with it- the company’s premier event- the American Black Film Festival.
Since its inception, many film auteurs have attended the ABFF, including Will Packer, who produced Think Like a Man, Rob Hardy producer of Takers and Stomp the Yard and Ryan Coogler, who recently garnered much attention for his Fruitvale Station, a film about the killing of Oscar Grant.
“If you’re a casual movie goer or an aspiring movie writer- there are classes and workshops,” said Friday, of the four-day event. “There’s something to do for everybody.”