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Annual American Black Film Festival Back On Miami Beach

Written By Orlando Taquechel
June 15, 2023 at 8:10 PM

Netflix’s centerpiece screening of “The Perfect Find” is directed by ABFF alumnus, Numa Perrier, and stars Gabrielle Union and Keith Powers. It shows at 8 p.m., Friday, June 16 at the New World Center. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

An HBO documentary about a mixed-race model considered the first Black woman to have graced the cover of Vogue magazine is one of the featured films in the American Black Film Festival in Miami Beach.

“Donyale Luna: Supermodel” is about  Donyale Luna, whose modeling career began at 19, after she moved to New York from Detroit in 1964 with her only collateral being a phone number. A few months after arriving in New York Luna was photographed for magazine editorials with Bob Dylan and later attended parties hosted by Sammy Davis Jr. and dinners by Miles Davis.

Nailah Jefferson (“Vanishing Pearls: The Oystermen of Pointe à la Hache”) directed the film.

The screening of “Donyale Luna: Supermodel” is Thursday, June 15 at 3:55 p.m. at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Screening Room 2

Voices and talent of filmmakers within the African Diaspora in America are the focus during the American Black Film Festival set to take place Wednesday, June 14 through Sunday, June 18 in Miami Beach, followed by a virtual segment streaming on ABFF Play from Monday, June 19 through Sunday, June 25.

Lena Waithe is this year’s ambassador of the 2023 American Black Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Shayan Asgharnia)

Over the course of its 27-year history, the ABFF has been held in Acapulco, New York, Los Angeles, and for the past 18 years, in Miami Beach.

In the Miami Beach Convention Center, the American Black Film Festival, a Wednesday-to-Sunday event will feature studio premieres of independent films, master classes, panels, talent showcases, networking and hospitality events.

Lena Waithe, the festival’s 2023 ambassador,  co-wrote 2019’s “Queen & Slim,” about an African couple in America who were on a date but go on the run after one of them shoots and kills a police officer in self-defense. In 2020, Waithe received the Industry Renaissance Award from the American Black Film Festival.

“I am excited to collaborate with the festival to shine a light on unique and groundbreaking stories and the creatives behind them,” Waithe stated in a press release.

Waithe wrote and executive produces a semi-autobiographical series called “Twenties” for BET which has received praise as the first primetime series featuring a Queer woman who presents as masculine.

Festival Founder and CEO Jeff Friday launched the ABBF Ventures and its signature events the American Black Film Festival and ABBF Honors so Black filmmakers know about and feel welcome at industry film festivals and there are opportunities to create an alternative platform for Black filmmakers, primarily focused on content created by African Americans for Black audiences.

“We have curated a diverse lineup of authentic stories created by talented artists that give visibility to Black creatives in the industry,” Friday said of the festival in a statement.

Winners of the 2023 independent film awards and talent contest winners will be presented during the Best of the ABFF Awards hosted by Emmy-nominated actor and author Dondré Whitfield, on Saturday, June 17, in the Miami Beach Convention Center. Sirius XM’s Bevy Smith of Bevelations will host the HBO Showcase. ABFF is a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards Short Film Awards.

Issa Rae, who served as ABFF’s 2022 Festival Ambassador, created and starred in the Peabody award-winning HBO series Insecure, which garnered multiple Emmy® and  Golden Globe® nominations and wins. She’ll appear in a talkback at the 2023 ABFF Annual Community Day. (Photo courtesy of Tyren Redd)

Among the screenings are Netflix’s centerpiece screening of “The Perfect Find” on Friday, June 16, directed by ABFF alumnus, Numa Perrier.

The festival will also include a Community Day at the Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater, 819 NW 2nd Ave., Miami, from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 18.

In partnership with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, the day is free.

The festivities include:

  • noon to 1 p.m.: Community Marketplace
  • 1 to 2 p.m.: Screening of “Rap Sh!t” (TV-MA)
  • 2 to 2:45 p.m.: Talkback with Issa Rae & Syreeta Singleton
  • 3:15 to 4 p.m.: Screening of “Young Love”
  • 4 to 4:30 p.m.: Talkback with Matthew Cherry

WHAT: American Black Film Festival

WHERE: Various locations in Miami Beach including New World Center, Miami Beach Convention Center, and The Bass Museum.

WHEN: June 14-18; streaming on ABFF Play from June 19-25.

COST: Various ticket prices. Community Day free admission.

INFORMATION: abff.com/miami/

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