Now y’all know I root for everyone Black, and #BlackFilmsMatter, right? And when I quit my job last year and decided to write full time, I promised myself to make sure I not only wrote FOR a Black audience, instead of trying to appeal to all millennials, but also to make sure that I covered more Black films and events than I had previously been doing. So when I found out about the American Black Film Festival (2020), I KNEW I wanted to attend.
‘Cause we all know the white folks and their white films, no matter how subpar they may be, get all the shine.
So honestly they don’t need my little ass covering them and helping them promote the films when they have thousands of dollars set aside just waiting to be used on marketing.
Plus, I never see a lot of coverage for Black films, and if I do, it’s some white folk attempting to explain why they just didn’t get it.
Um, maybe it’s because our cultures are complete opposites and you haven’t LIVED the lives we lived?
Anywho, before I go down a rabbit hole ranting about how much I hate white critics reviewing Black films, how about we tilt the tide a bit and shift to all the amazing Black films I can’t wait to watch over the next few days?
31 ABFF Films + Web Series I Can’t Wait To Watch
Narrative Films – USA
The following films represent the 2020 official selections in the Narrative Features category; a competitive section for feature-length films directed by or written and produced by persons of African descent.
Films in this category are eligible to be nominated to compete for the following Jury Awards – Best Director (presented by Cadillac, prize is $10,000), Best Narrative Feature (presented by Prudential Financial, prize is $2,500), and Best Screenplay (presented by BET Networks, prize is $2,500).
In addition, if a person of African descent has directed a film in this section and it is his/her first feature, they will be eligible to compete for our first annual John Singleton Award for Best First Feature (presented by Netflix, prize is $5,000).
1. A New York Christmas Wedding
As her Christmas Eve wedding draws near, Jennifer is visited by Azrael (angel of death) and shown what could have been if she hadn’t denied her true feelings for her childhood best friend.
Suffering from schizophrenia, a former basketball star is trigged down a dark path when he discovers his championship ring is missing.
3. Death of a Telemarketer
A smooth-talking telemarketer (Lamorne Morris) finds himself at the mercy of a father and his son (Oscar Nominees Jacky Earle Haley, Haley Joel Osment) he tried to swindle.
James Bernard Jr., aka Dutch, is in charge of the East Coast’s most feared drug empire netting him a range of enemies including a vengeful Mafia heir, an ambitious DA, and a conscience-stricken former friend.
5. She Ball
Avery Watts, a single father who lost his NBA dreams to gang violence, struggles to keep his family’s community center open amidst rising gentrification in his Inglewood community.
6. Tazmanian Devil
After moving to Arlington, Texas, a 19-year-old Nigerian immigrant struggles to balance his conflicting desires of joining a college fraternity and bonding with his strictly religious father.
7. True to the Game 2: Gena’s Story
Picking up a year after the first installment of “True to the Game”, Gena has rein- vented herself as a journalist in NYC. But no matter where she goes, her life in Philly seems to always make an appearance.
Narrative Films – International
The following films represent the 2020 official selections in the International Narrative Features category; a competitive section for feature-length films directed by or written and produced by persons of African descent.
Films in this category are eligible to be nominated to compete for the Jury Award for Best International Feature, presented by Sony Pictures Entertainment for a cash prize of $2,500.
8. A Rose Between Thorns
Hailing as the first movie ever to be made on the island nations of Saint Kitts and Nevis, “A Rose Between Thorns” follows a young girl named Rose who uses dance as a means to escape from the pain caused by her abusive family.
9. Coming from Insanity
After being kidnapped at a young age, a young boy with genius-level intelligence creates a path for himself by mastering the art of counterfeiting money.
The following films represent the 2020 official selections in the Documentary feature category; a competitive section for nonfiction feature films directed by persons or about persons of African descent.
Films in this category are eligible to be nominated to compete for the Jury Award for Best Documentary, presented by Amazon Studios. The cash prize is $2,500.
10. Black Boys
Through an intimate, intergenerational conversation at the intersection of sports, education, and criminal justice, “Black Boys” serves as a powerful reimagining for black males in America.
11. Growing Up Milwaukee
Three inner-city youth growing up in Milwaukee struggle with the daily dilemma of growing up Black and avoiding becoming just another statistic.
12. Hungry to Learn
This documentary film by Soledad O’Brien and Geeta Gandbhir, introduces the faces behind an American crisis — college students so strapped to pay tuition that they don’t have enough money to eat or a place to live.
HBO Short Film Competition
The following five (5) films are the 2020 finalists in the HBO® Short Film Competition, now in its 23nd year.
Each of the films in this section is directed and/or written by a person of African descent and will compete for the HBO Short Film Award. The prize is $10,000 for the winner and $5,000 for each of the other finalists.
13. Black Boy Joy
Black Boy Joy is an introspective slice of life story about two generations of Black men, living within the same household, juggling the demands of raising a young son with autism.
14. Dolapo is Fine
Soon to leave her very British boarding school, Dọlápọ̀ is pressured to conceal her natural hair, and to change her name.
15. The Cypher
A young Black rapper in Philadelphia must confront his sexuality when he finally gets the chance to perform on the big stage.
The following are the 2020 official selections in the Web Series category; a competitive sec- tion for short-form episodic television series directed by or produced and written by persons of African descent.
Each series will compete for the Jury Award for Best Web Series. The cash prize is $2,500.
16. Almost Nowhere
Three best friends make a pact to turn their sad lives around in under a year before they all turn the BIG 3-0.
A noncompetitive showcase of the work of emerging directors of African descent.
Augustus, a literate escaped slave masquerading as a free man in Massachusetts in 1841, experiences nightmares of his son’s death and a future that resembles the strug- gles of his own past.
A young Black girl from humble beginnings, struggles to be accepted at her new affluent school of mostly White peers.
A grieving young girl with supernatural abilities seeks vengeance after the racially charged officer-involved shooting of her teenage brother.
After tragedy strikes, Ruby Oliver enters a broken VR game for a last chance to see the dead – little does she know that this game treats all girls as a virus as she fights to get out.
An LA Comic is forced to come clean about his terminal illness after his condition is severely triggered while hooking up with his girlfriend for the first time.
Femi is a Nigerian immigrant who must question his life values and concept of the American Dream when his older brother, Adeola, steals a large sum of cash one night.
“Junebug” is an exploration of the fierce love between a daughter and father, the complexities of an absence that words can’t touch, the power of music, and the wonderland of memory.
24. Little Brother
Keith, a white elementary school teacher, journeys to South Los Angeles to investi- gate the home life of his gifted student Lamont.
A job is just a job, but as with anything, time flies when you’re doing it with your best friend. And today’s no different. We follow Ty & Malcolm as they go about their daily routine. Just another day for two really good friends.
26. My Hero
As last-minute plans for a babysitter fall apart, eight-year-old Brandon is left alone to oversee his younger brother Mason.
27. Rudeboy’s Restaurant
Afraid that she’ll be negatively associated with unfavorable patrons of a Jamaican Restaurant, a white woman falsely claims to be the distant cousin of mid 2000s Dancehall Super Star Sean Paul.
28. The Mark
A young single mother struggles against ominous forces, whom she believes are bent on taking her infant daughter.
29. When A Tree Falls
“When a Tree Falls,” tells the story of a 19-year-old African-American male who is caught in the cycle of poverty, drugs and violence. One day he finds out a devastating se- cret that will change his life forever.
A noncompetitive showcase of films that represent queer culture and reflect the LGBTQIA experience in the United States.
30. My Daughter, Tyler
Marie, a single, Caribbean-American mother, struggles when she discovers her teenage son is transgender. Their relationship is strained until an incident on the streets of Brooklyn forces her to choose what matters most – society’s expectations or a parent’s sup- port.
A young Jamaican thief commits the unthinkable to survive, crushing his humanity in the process. Based on several true incidents of murder in the more affluent LGBTQIA community in Jamaica.
So yeah, that’s the list. I know there’s a LOT here, but I’m pretty sure they’re gonna be worth it. I’ll be watching and reviewing them all over the next few days, so stay tuned.
Plus, I’ll be talking to a few of the directors and/or cast members as well, which will stream LIVE on my Popcorn and Tequila Facebook page, Twitter account, and then be uploaded to my Popcorn and Tequila YouTube channel, so make sure you follow those accounts as well.
I can’t wait to dive into these films and let you know which ones are my faves!
More About The American Black Film Festival
The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is an annual event dedicated to recognizing black talent and showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent.
Dedicated to the belief that diverse artists deserve the same opportunities as their mainstream counterparts, ABFF founder Jeff Friday conceived the festival in 1997 as a vehicle to strengthen the black entertainment community by fostering resource sharing, education and artistic collaboration.
After 24 years, the festival has become a cornerstone of diversity in Hollywood, providing a platform for emerging black artists – many of whom have become today’s most successful actors, producers, writers, directors and stand-up comedians.
Which includes Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Will Packer (Girls Trip), Issa Rae (Insecure), Kevin Hart (Night School), Omari Hardwick (Power) and Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II).
Today, the ABFF is widely considered the preeminent pipeline for black artists in front of and behind the camera, and has significantly expanded the range of talent working in the entertainment Industry.