HBO announced today their selection of finalists who will compete in ABFF’s 23rd annual HBO Short Film Competition. The festival will be hosted on ABFF.com from August 21-30, with more than 100,000 virtual attendees from around the globe anticipated to attend. Continuing with the festival’s tradition, the ABFF Online Edition will include the best of independent Black cinema as well as studio premieres, panels, masterclasses, and virtual networking events. The HBO Short Film Competition is regarded as one of the most prestigious short film showcases in the country and will kick off this year’s ABFF.
This year’s five finalists, Martina Lee (“Black Boy Joy”), Letia Solomon (“The Cypher”), Ethosheia Hylton (“Dolapo Is Fine”), Darius Dawson (“A Rodeo Film”) and Lanre Olabisi (“A Storybook Ending”) are emerging directors with diverse styles and sensibilities from across the United States. Prior winners include Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”), Steven Caple Jr. (“Creed II”), Kiel Adrian Scott (“The Bobby Brown Story”), Saladin K. Patterson (“The Big Bang Theory”) and Ben Watkins (“Burn Notice”).
“Without a doubt, media and storytelling are among the most powerful tools a community can use to give relevance to their experiences and punctuate their existence,” said Dennis Williams, Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, WarnerMedia. “For years, HBO has shared the American Black Film Festival’s mission to elevate the work of Black filmmakers so the voice of a people can be seen and heard in all of its complexity and beauty. The ability to introduce and connect talented newcomers to the industry is vital and important now more than ever before.”
“Through the HBO Short Film Competition, we have created an unprecedented pipeline for Black content creators, many of whom have gone on to great success in our industry,” said Jeff Friday, Festival Founder and ABFF Ventures CEO. “We commend HBO for its ongoing commitment to diverse artists and are truly honored to have maintained our partnership for the past 23 years.”
HBO has been a presenting sponsor of ABFF since its inception in 1997 and is dedicated to furthering ABFF’s mission to showcase quality film and television content by and about people of African descent. Each film in this category will compete for ABFF’s HBO Short Film Award and a prize of $10,000 for the winner and $5,000 for each of the finalists. The 23rd Annual HBO Short Film Competition, sponsored by HBO, is on Friday, August 21, 2020. Hosted by Bevy Smith (Sirius XM’s Bevelations), the competition will be held online. The winner will be announced during the Best of the ABFF Awards Presentation on Sunday, August 30, 2020.
SHORT FILM FINALISTS
The following films are the 2020 official selections in the HBO Short Film Competition, now in its 23rd year.
BLACK BOY JOY
2019 | USA | 17:29 min
Directed by: Martina Lee
Written by: Michelle Lee
Produced by: Nasir Kenneth Ferebee, Jhanvi Motla
Cast: Will Catlett, Evan Alex, Montae Russel
Logline: Black Boy Joy is about two generations of black men struggling to juggle the demands of raising a young son with Autism while adapting to their new normal after the death of a loved one.
2020 | USA | 15:04 min
Directed by: Letia Solomon
Written by: Wes Akwuobi
Produced by: Anne Brashier, Craig Patterson
Cast: Nigel Cox, Kerrice Brooks, Juan Gil, O’Shay Neal, Nelcie Souffrant, Alexander Robinson
Logline: With his reputation and record deal on the line, Khalil confronts his opponent Young Reap and defends his secret during a freestyle rap competition in Philadelphia.
DOLAPO IS FINE
2020 | United Kingdom | 16:09 min
Directed by: Ethosheia Hylton
Written by: Joan Iyiola, Chibundu Onuzo
Produced by: Joe Bell, Amy Dowd, Elizabeth Hopper, Joan Lyiola, Nicholas Jessup, Millie Marsh, Chibundu Onuzo
Logline: A story about a young black girl's relationship with her hair and name, and how it helps her understand who she really is.
A RODEO FILM
2019 | USA | 18 min
Directed & Written by: Darius Dawson
Produced by: Ryan Binse
Cast: Jermelle Simon, Phrederic Savage, Charlee Earle
Logline: A black bull rider in rural California must choose between his brother and a woman he loves.
A STORYBOOK ENDING
2020 | USA | 18 min
Directed & Written by: Lanre Olabisi
Produced by: Lanre Olabisi, Ross Vedder, Tiffany Smile
Cast: Carra Patterson, Rotimi Paul, Toni Anna DeNoble, Sawandi Wilson
Logline: When a black man accidentally kills a white cop in self-defense, the cover-up sets off a chain reaction of deceit, blackmail, and murder.
Sponsors to date include Warner Media, HBO (Founding), Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (Presenting Sponsors); Comcast NBCUniversal, Amazon Studios (Premier Sponsors); Motion Picture Association (MPA), Sony Pictures Entertainment, Jeff Friday Media, UMC–Urban Movie Channel, Verizon Media (Official Sponsors); Accenture (Supporting Sponsor); Blackfilm.com (Media Partner).
ABOUT ABFF Ventures:
ABFF Ventures LLC is a multifaceted entertainment company producing events and content focused on Black culture and achievement. Its mission is to entertain and inspire diverse audiences while promoting inclusion in Hollywood. Its tent-pole properties are the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), cited by MovieMaker magazine as “One of the Coolest Festivals in the World;” and “ABFF Honors,” an annual awards gala saluting the top stars of film and television. In creating ABFF Ventures, CEO Jeff Friday channeled his passion for film and television, as well as his discomfort with the underrepresentation of people of color in Hollywood, into an organization with the ultimate goal of advocating for racial equity within the entertainment industry.