The 23rd annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF), the largest gathering of Black filmmakers and talent in the country, is a space where black films and talent are being displayed and honored. It’s also a space where those who are serious about a career in the industry can discover their next move that could change everything. 

Today’s major names like Ryan Cooglar, Issa Rae and Will Packer have received support from the festival that has helped their career. 

ABFF organizers said they plan on bringing more exciting updates this year while remaining true to what they do it in the first place. 

“As ABFF continues to grow, we will also seek to remain true to our core programming initiatives, which are education, artistic expression, collaboration, access, and recognition, explained Jeff Friday, CEO of ABFF. “In 2019 will continue to bring more opportunities for content creators of color.”

ABFF is scheduled June 12-16 at the Loews Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. The four-day festival has seen attendance reach over 19,000 people in previous years. 

This year’s festival is set to deliver a weekend of that filmmakers and film buffs will enjoy, Friday said. 

“This is going to be the most robust lineup of screenings and events that we have ever had. If you want to get into Hollywood, it is a professional opportunity. If you don’t have any desire to be in Hollywood but love movies it will be a wonderful event.”

 The festival started in 1997 in Acapulco, Mexico. With only 90 people in attendance, Friday was still able to bring Denzel Washington and Halley Berry to the Festival. 

Besides movie screenings, the festival hosted talks and live interviews that haven’t happened anywhere else. In 2013 they hosted a voice actors panel with Phil Lamar, Cree Summer, and Kevin Michael Richarson, All who have done work with Nickelodeon and Disney. 

In 2015, The festival focused more on the digital side and hosted a workshop on Crowdfunding. 

This year, ABFF will host an “Art of Directing” panel, which will feature Boots Riley, Steven Caple Jr., George Tillman Jr., Malcolm D. Lee.

Another major component of the festival is the film ambassadors. Each year, ABFF chooses an actor or actress to honor who had an amazing year of work. 

Previous ambassadors include Taraji P Henson, Common, and Jay Ellis. 

The 2019 ABFF Ambassadors is none other than Power star Lala Anthony. 

“(Anthony)’s recent work in both film and television is a reflection of the American Black Film Festival’s mission—showcasing the talent of today’s successful diverse artists,” Friday said. 

Studios have scheduled to screen some of their hottest projects releasing this year at ABFF:
• TV One is hosting “The Bobby Debarge Story,” the tale of the eldest sibling of the world-famous pop group Debarge and his struggles with fame and fortune.
• Netflix is presenting “Beats,” a coming of age drama about a musical prodigy who forms an unlikely friendship with his high school security guard played by Anthony Anderson.
• New Line Cinema kicked off the festival with a screening of “Shaft,” hosted by the cast.

Netflix's "Strong Black Lead: There's No One Way To Be Black" panel with Rev. Run, Justine Simmons, Britney Young, Simone Missick and Sydelle Noel. (Photo: American Black Film Festival)

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