It's been raining since I got here, and it's still raining. I haven't seen the sun, thanks to the dark clouds that have been hiding them. So much for South Beach Miami sun, beaches and fun!

But other than that, I'm cool :)

Attended opening night festivities yesterday, which kicked off with red carpet coverage for the opening night film, In The Hive, produced and directed by Robert Townsend, and starring Michael Clarke Duncan, Loretta Devine, Vivica A Fox and newcomer Jonathan "Lil J" McDaniel, the star of the film, which is based on the true story of a woman who started an alternative school for troubled youth in North Carolina.

I didn't care much for the film, though I applaud the effort and intent. I wouldn't look for it at a theater near you anytime soon, if at all; a DVD/VOD release it more likely. Although self-distribution via service deals with the likes of AMC Independent is certainly possible.

Some of the cast of In The Hive, were present, and I was able to grab a few shots which I've included in this post.

ABFF co-founder Jeff Friday gave his annual welcome speech, reflecting on the festival's 15th year (time flies!); representatives from the festival's premiere sponsors also spoke about their contributions to the festivities, including the festival's newest premiere sponsor, NFL pro Terrell Suggs and his Team Sizzle Films production company, who, as I discovered, is intent on making an impact on what we broadly define as "black cinema." He's putting his money where his mouth is, financing shorts and feature films, which we'll continue to talk about in coming months, including a feature film titled The Coalition (featured just below this post) which Monica Mingo (whom we've written about before on S&A) wrote and directed.

After the opening night screening, I had the pleasure of running into a few familiar folks, some we've written about on S&A; like the aforementioned Monica Mingo, as well as Cynthia Stafford, whom I met for the very first time. Recall she's the lady who won several million dollars in her states lottery, and used part of her winnings to create a film production company called Queen Nefertari Productions‏. We've written about her and her company quite a bit, mostly on the old S&A site, but we will be writing about her again on the new site, as she and Lanre Idewu, an actor and executive for the company, told me, they have some projects in the works. I requested an interview with them, since we've never actually done one, and really should have by now. So, look out for that eventually.

And that about sums up day 1. Like I said, in brief. Enjoy the few pics, and pray that we get some sunshine down here tomorrow.

For day 2, which is today, I got to chat with John Singleton and Keenen Ivory Wayans; tomorrow's update will contain my write-ups of both interviews.