American Black Film Festival Culminates 25th Anniversary with Best of the ABFF Awards

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) announced the winners of the competitive film selections and talent pipeline programs during the Best of the ABFF Awards ceremony.

Hosted by comedian, actress and author Amanda Seales (Insecure), the ceremony was presented virtually for the second year on ABFF’s custom-designed streaming platform ABFF PLAY. ABFF winners receive a combined total cash prize of over $55,000 along with two actors cast in an upcoming original series. Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry served as this year’s ABFF ambassador.

Known for showcasing Black talent and discovering new voices, the month-long festival featured an unprecedented number of independent films — 102 — representing the best in Black cinema.  The festival’s international film entries hailed from 32 countries, including Angola, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Ghana, Germany, Haiti, Namibia, Portugal, Saint Croix, South Africa and the United Kingdom. This year’s jury president was producer and ABFF alum Will Packer (Girl’s Trip, Ride Along).

Complementing ABFF’s wide range of films, the festival’s lineup of events included spotlight screenings, networking events and talks featuring Debra Martin Chase, Morris Chestnut, Colman Domingo, Meagan Good, Regina King, MC Lyte, Niecy Nash, Michael Rainey Jr., Larenz Tate, Flex Alexander and Shanice Wilson.

A festival highlight was a one-on-one conversation with Halle Berry where she discussed her career and directorial debut Bruised. All events were presented free of charge reaching a global audience from 95 countries around the world during the festival which ran November 3-28.

Along with ABFF Ventures Founder and CEO Jeff Friday, featured presenters at the award ceremony were film and television industry executives representing ABFF’s impressive roster of partners and sponsors including: Karen Horne SVP, Equity + Inclusion, WarnerMedia; Sirius XM “Bevelations” host Bevy Smith on behalf of HBO; Juanita Slappy, Head of Multicultural Marketing, Cadillac; Dupe Bosu, Vice President, Strategic Communications (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion), NBCUniversal; Keith Le Goy, Chairman, Distribution & Networks, Sony Pictures Entertainment; Yahoo National Reporter and Fellow, Garin Flowers. 

The 2021 Jury Award winners are:

HBO Short Film Award, presented by HBO

  •  Prize: $10,000 for winner, $5,000 each for four finalists

      When the Sun Sets, written and directed by Phumi Morare

  • Jury Award – Best Director, presented by Cadillac

Prize: $5,000

Trees of Peace, directed by Alanna Brown

  • John Singleton Award – Best First Feature, presented by Netflix

Prize: $5,000

Trees of Peace, directed by Alanna Brown

  • Jury Award – Best Narrative Feature, presented by Sony Pictures Entertainment

Prize: 2,500 

Trees of Peace, produced by Ron Ray, Barry Levine, Mike Bundlie, Brian Baniqued, Jeff Spiegel, Vicky Petela and Alanna Brown

  • Jury Award – Best Documentary Feature, presented by Yahoo

Prize:  2,500

The Neutral Ground, directed by CJ Hunt, produced by Darcy McKinnon

  • Jury Award – Best Web Series, presented by Comcast NBCUniversal

Prize:  $2,500

True Story: I Feel, directed and written by Matthew Law

The 2021 Talent Pipeline Program winners are:

  • WarnerMedia Access Writers Competition – Drama

Prize:  $5,000

Soul City Texas, Tony Clomax   

  • WarnerMedia Access Writers Competition – Comedy

Prize:  $5,000

Crazy in Love, Marcus Stricklin

  • ALLBLK’s Shoot Your Shot Casting Call

Prize:  Role in upcoming original series, West Philly, Baby 

Virginia Watson and Harrison White  

The 2021 Fan Favorites as determined by the ABFF’s virtual audience are:

  • Fan Favorite Narrative Feature, B-Boy Blues
  • Fan Favorite Documentary, 100 Years From Mississippi
  • Fan Favorite Web Series, Last Bodega in Brooklyn  
  • Fan Favorite ABFF Pride, Everyday Black Matter  
  • Fan Favorite World Showcase, Coffee
  • Fan Favorite New Voices, Pickney

“We wrapped our 25th year on an incredibly exhilarating high as we honored some of the most talented and promising filmmakers who are sharing authentic stories about experiences from a Black and Brown perspective,” said Jeff Friday, Founder and CEO, ABFF Ventures LLC.

“Showcasing this content and uplifting Black creatives is what ABFF is all about. As we close out this landmark year, fraught with uncertainty, with a highly successful virtual celebration we are honored and encouraged. We extend profound thanks to our corporate partners and supporters, our worldwide audience and celebrity participants and look forward to continuing the ABFF legacy in Miami in 2022.”

For festival information, visit and follow @ABFF on Twitter and @AmericanBlackFilmFestival on Instagram and Facebook. Join in on the conversation by using #ABFF.

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