Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood '106 & PARK' Says Goodbye Today, Dec 19 at 6pm, w/ Live, 2-hour, Star-Studded Finale! '106 & PARK' Says Goodbye Today, Dec 19 at 6pm, w/ Live, 2-hour, Star-Studded Finale! First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Tessa Thompson Books Female Lead Role in Ryan Coogler's 'Creed' Opposite Michael B. Jordan Tessa Thompson Books Female Lead Role in Ryan Coogler's 'Creed' Opposite Michael B. Jordan Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) 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