Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
"Your Legacy Is More Than a Name" - Watch Michael B. Jordan in First Trailer for 'Creed' "Your Legacy Is More Than a Name" - Watch Michael B. Jordan in First Trailer for 'Creed' Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman & Julia Roberts Seek Justice in First Trailer for 'Secret in Their Eyes' Remake Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman & Julia Roberts Seek Justice in First Trailer for 'Secret in Their Eyes' Remake Issa Rae's HBO-Bound 'Awkward Black Girl'-esque Comedy Gets a Director Issa Rae's HBO-Bound 'Awkward Black Girl'-esque Comedy Gets a Director Watch Trailer for Fascinating New Documentary About Black Men and Chess - ‘Sideline’ Watch Trailer for Fascinating New Documentary About Black Men and Chess - ‘Sideline’ The Irresponsibility of 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' The Irresponsibility of 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' Full List of BET AWARDS Winners (Taraji P. Henson & Terrence Howard Take Actor Nods) Full List of BET AWARDS Winners (Taraji P. Henson & Terrence Howard Take Actor Nods) Zadie Smith Will Make Her Feature Screenwriting Debut, Teaming up w/ Claire Denis for Sci-Fi Project Zadie Smith Will Make Her Feature Screenwriting Debut, Teaming up w/ Claire Denis for Sci-Fi Project Review: Arriving on Netflix TODAY, Definitive Nina Simone Documentary, 'What Happened, Miss Simone' Review: Arriving on Netflix TODAY, Definitive Nina Simone Documentary, 'What Happened, Miss Simone' Haiti and the Dominican Republic - A Conflict Captured on Film Haiti and the Dominican Republic - A Conflict Captured on Film Fried Chicken & Drugs: 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' Writer Charla Lauriston Creates the Anti-­Strong Black Woman in 'Clench & Release' Fried Chicken & Drugs: 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' Writer Charla Lauriston Creates the Anti-­Strong Black Woman in 'Clench & Release' A Muscle-Bound Michael B. Jordan Hitting a Speed Bag w/ Stallone's Encouragement in Pic from 'Creed' A Muscle-Bound Michael B. Jordan Hitting a Speed Bag w/ Stallone's Encouragement in Pic from 'Creed' Greetings From 'The Walking Dead: Season 6' Set as Daryl Plants an Unexpected Kiss on Michonne Greetings From 'The Walking Dead: Season 6' Set as Daryl Plants an Unexpected Kiss on Michonne PBS Yanks Ben Affleck 'Finding Your Roots' Episode + Puts Off 3rd & 4th Seasons Until Editorial Standards Improve PBS Yanks Ben Affleck 'Finding Your Roots' Episode + Puts Off 3rd & 4th Seasons Until Editorial Standards Improve Here's Your First Look At Taye Diggs in the Title Role in 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' Here's Your First Look At Taye Diggs in the Title Role in 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates 'Supremacy' Director Deon Taylor Talks Race, Horror, and Working With Lela Rochon (LAFF Premiere) 'Supremacy' Director Deon Taylor Talks Race, Horror, and Working With Lela Rochon (LAFF Premiere) Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

2013 S&A Highlights: For The Love Of Black Film (ABFF Chief On Relevance Of Black Film Fests)

Shadow and Act By Jeff Friday | Shadow and Act December 31, 2013 at 2:47PM

With Sundance 2013 upon us, we genuinely celebrate filmmakers of color whose works have made it onto this year’s slate. We, at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), cannot help but indulge in our own film version of “fantasy football.”
53
Jeff Friday
Jeff Friday

Editor's note: As 2013 comes to an end, I'll be reposting some of our highlights published during the year. Those who've already read each one can obviously skip them, or revisit if you'd like. For those who joined us later in the year, missing many of these posts from earlier in the year, they will probably be new items. Here's the fourth of many to come, originally posted in January 2013, with Sundance 2013 looming. It's still timely, with Sundance 2014 around the corner, and a new year of film festivals (notably black film festivals) a breath away. Happy New Year to you all! 

With Sundance 2013 upon us, we genuinely celebrate filmmakers of color whose works have made it onto this year’s slate. We, at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), cannot help but indulge in our own film version of “fantasy football.”

Each of us names our favorite Black director of the moment, whether established (Spike Lee, John Singleton, Lee Daniels, Antoine Fuqua, Tim Story, Kasi Lemmons, Gina Prince-Bythewood) or emerging (Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay, Shaka King, Dee Rees, Rashaad Ernesto Green), and enthusiastically argues the case for why our auteur pick will have their movie’s official world premiere at one of the nation’s quality Black film festivals (ours included) -- Pan African Film & Arts Festival, American Black Film Festival, Hollywood Black Film Festival, Urbanworld.

We romanticize the revolutionary stance they would take with their “Best Picture” contender and enact the statements made to the press, relishing their impact. Boy, is it fun! While I can’t transcribe any of the outlandish sound bites from those closed-door debates, I can attempt to convey the sentiment.

Think about some of the top NFL talent-producing colleges in the country: Notre Dame, Alabama, USC, Ohio State, etc. A strong case can be made that the hundreds of skilled African American players that those white institutions supply to the NFL are largely what fuels their great power and prominence. What if the top Black NFL high school prospects were all persuaded to enter Howard this fall, and again in 2014 and beyond? Suddenly, Howard would win the BCS title and catapult to fame as the #1 football program in America, be flooded with funding, and all would bask in the glow of glory.  Proving that when we band together and support each other, we can affect great change.

Black film festivals work year-round to find new ways to help promote our stories and storytellers who too often remain marginalized. We rally to build a strong network within the industry, to grow the power base and the opportunities. Yet, our efficacy is often challenged:  “What’s the relevance of Black film festivals?

The same question is often asked of Black colleges. And across the board, it’s a level response: Underlying their respective missions is the goal of creating a supportive community.  And let’s not fool ourselves – we can use all the support we can get!  So, the next time those questions arise, let’s remind ourselves of some of the success stories that have come from Black colleges (I’m focused on the Arts): Phylicia Rashad, Samuel L. Jackson, Debbie Allen, Spike Lee, Taraji P. Henson; and Black film festivals: Will Packer (named by Variety as one of their “10 Producers to Watch”), Rob Hardy, Roger Bobb, Sylvain White and Emayatzy Corinealdi, to name a few.

I prefer to reflect on the positive and then ask, “What have I done to contribute to our legacy in this country and what more can I do?”  Not to toot our own horn, but in that traditional American way, I shall. Here’s a quote, verbatim, from award-winning filmmaker Lee Daniels regarding the ABFF (17 years and counting), "I’ve been to film festivals all over the world and I can say, that this is the best.”  

Who doesn’t appreciate being appreciated?  There it is a nutshell!  A little fantasy, a lot of hope and the sustained efforts by indie filmmakers to complete new works despite all the obstacles is what drives us to ensure that we – together with our many supporters who believe in what we do – maintain a platform for Black artists to be seen, heard and celebrated. My long-term goal is to help level the playing field so that Black artists can have the same opportunities and access in this business as their white counterparts.

In closing, I leave you with these words of Ralph Ellison from The Invisible Man:

"Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat."

Sincerely yours,

Jeff Friday

Founder, American Black Film Festival


Shadow & ActNewsletter