The 2021 American Black Film Festival (ABFF) unveiled its program slate for the 25 anniversary of the festival, highlighting the festival’s commitment to showcasing exceptional Black talent.
The 26-day, free, virtual event will run from Nov. 3 through 28 on its online platform ABFFPLAY.
“As is customary with ABFF, our 2021 festival event presents a wide selection of inspiring, educational and entertaining content from a diverse group of artists,” Nicole Friday, president and general manager, ABFF Ventures LLC said in a statement. “We are grateful for the continued support of our partners and sponsors who have helped to make our 25th anniversary a memorable event.”
The festival will open with a screening of King Richard, which stars Will Smith in the role of Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena, as he raises his two girls into tennis champions, dispelling racial stereotypes in the process. The film was brought to ABFF by Warner Media and HBO, who serve as partners with ABFF and are among its founding partners. Additionally, director Reinaldo Marcus Green is an ABFF alum.
The ABFF will also include its 24th HBO Short Film Competition, hosted by Bevy Smith. The competition features five compelling short films from emerging filmmakers who will compete for the prestigious 2021 HBO Short Film Award and a $10,000 cash prize.
Discussions during the festival will include Halle Berry discussing her career and directorial debut in Bruised and the cast of The Harder They Fall discussing making the all-Black western. Additionally the ABFF will include masterclasses on directing and animation, interviews of directors, writers and producers who made the films and networking opportunities.
Will Packer, who is slated to produce next year’s Oscars, discussed what he hopes those coming up in the industry and industry veterans should get out of the ABFF.
“I hope the up and coming creatives come away inspired. I hope they walk away the way I walked away feeling like they are on the right track, that they are enough,” Packer said during the ABFF press conference. “For established filmmakers, I hope they feel reinvigorated. First of all it’s a party, it’s a great party, make no mistake, it’s an amazing social event and I’m not shy about saying that.
“But it’s also a place to get reinvigorated for folks that have been in the game and you would be surprised sometimes how we also need that energy. I come down and like to be around because of the energy and even virtual you can feel energy in a room.”
Packer added that the virtual format also gives people an opportunity they otherwise would never have because you can have more people from around the world be in the room where the festival is taking place.
The ABFF will show more than 100 movies from more than 30 countries during its run.