ABFF’s Wraps Up With Community Day

Historic Lyric Theater

Historic Lyric Theater

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By: Ashlee Thomas

The 23rd Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) provides a platform for black excellence in film to be recognized on the silver screen. It also serves as a space for industry newcomers and experts alike to learn more about the business of Hollywood. Happening in sunny Miami Beach, hundreds of east and west coast dwellers flock to South Florida for amazing films and fun in the sun. ABFF delivers the glitz and glam of Hollywood and keeps the community at the heartbeat of their initiatives every step of the way. Catering to the traveler with the benefits of Miami’s locals in mind, ABFF hosted their community day in Overtown at the Historic Lyric Theater on Sunday, the final day of the American Black Film Festival.

Free to the public, attendees explored a day of ABFF official selections, a local feature film and a TV docuseries. Local Youth of Miami also took on the silver screen through the 1st Take Youth Program, an initiative by Florida Film House dedicated to making film accessible in underserved communities.

This year’s ABFF official local spotlight was the feature film titled, The Flea, - a comedy about a young man who finally decides to quit his job as the supervisor’s assistant at a very famous urban flea market. However, obstacles divert his plans to get out each time. With an absent boss addicted to strip clubs, he finds himself doing the tough work of collecting rent from verbose renters who refuse to pay. He bears the brunt of every problem at The Flea, from illicit dealing to girlfriends fighting over a barber with a desire for revenge. His childhood love ingenue enters picture right when he’s ready to call it quits and keeps him there just a little longer. As the love story unfolds so does the film’s plot. His best friend has a booth in the flea market and the fellows find themselves in a bit of a conundrum by inadvertently upsetting the wrong gangs in the flea market. The audience watches these two navigate through a comedy of errors while showcasing Miami’s city life.

ABFF community day also highlighted young filmmakers, showcasing their work to a national audience. In partnership with Florida Film House, a well-established local film production company in South Florida, ABFF presented films from the 1st Take Youth Program. This quarterly camp is dedicated to making filmmaking accessible to youth in underserved neighborhoods. Serving more than fifty kids, ages 12-18, 1st Take Youth Program has become an outlet for at-risk youth to express creativity. The program provides them a new perspective to dream beyond the limited opportunities that may be found in their community. These students showcased their summer short films projects and had the opportunity to be acknowledged by their peers and industry professionals with the hope that it will propel their desire to continue in the film and technology industry. Students teamed up to create eight short films and presented them at ABFF’s Community Day. These short films were deeply impactful, exploring themes and challenges for today’s youth from living up to parents’ strict standards, abuse and understanding consequences.

ABFF Community Day also provided a wealth of insight during its panel, Careers in Hollywood. The session featured panelists Roger Bobb,producer of Mann and Wife and Rickey Smiley For Real and Jamal Watson, Director of Development, Overbrook Entertainment. This workshop was perfect for those interested in being a part of the Hollywood industry in capacities other than actress, director or writer. Panelists discussed the importance of the various fields within the craft like marketing, finance, location scouting, producers, craft services and make up artists.

All in all, ABFF Community Day offered great outreach to the local community. A pleasurable and restful Sunday of movie-going, the final day of ABFF allowed attendees to connect with local partners in the film arena, make lasting creative connections, and leave energized - ready to create.

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