The 18th annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) will take place in New York City for the first time June 19-22 featuring the East Coast premiere of “Think Like A Man Too” and the world premiere of Spike Lee’s new film “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.” “Think Like A Man Too,” directed by Tim Story and produced by Will Packer, will open the festival. The sequel to “Think Like A Man” stars Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, La La Anthony, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Meagan Good, Terrence J, Jenifer Lewis and Dennis Haysbert. “ABFF is the premier film festival showcase for filmmakers of color,” says Packer. “It has been instrumental in my career and many others. Tim Story and I are proud to be able to showcase ‘Think Like a Man Too’ there.”
Spike Lee’s Kickstarter-funded “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” stars Michael K. Williams and will close the festival. “I’m proud to have the world premiere of ‘Da Sweet Blood of Jesus’ at the American Black Film Festival,” says Lee. “It feels great to be the closing night film for the ABFF’s move from Miami to the greatest city in the world – NUEVA YORK.” In describing ‘Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,’ he says, “We human beings can have various addictions; addictions to drugs, alcohol, money, food, sex, power, Air Jordans and nicotine. In my new Spike Lee joint, we examine human beings who are addicted to BLOOD. They are not vampires either. This is not ‘Blacula’.”
“Spike and Will are two of the most talented and dynamic filmmakers working in Hollywood,” says Jeff Friday, ABFF founder and CEO of Film Life, Inc. “I am honored that they have chosen to present their most recent work at the American Black Film Festival. Their mainstream success and ongoing support underscores the importance of diverse film festivals like the ABFF. We are also thrilled that Spike would choose us as a platform for the sale of the distribution rights for his newest film and look forward to building our festival into a destination for the acquisition of commercial films.”
Lee’s wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, is serving as the New York City Host Committee Chair for the festival, and Morris Chestnut is the festival Celebrity Ambassador. “Morris Chestnut is a beloved and charismatic actor,” says Friday. “The role of the ABFF Ambassador is to broaden public awareness of the festival as well as its mission, and Morris reprised his popular role in ‘The Best Man Holiday.’ You can also see this talented actor in TNT’s upcoming new series ‘Legend.’ I deeply appreciate both Morris and Tonya’s commitment to advance opportunities for Black artists in our industry. “It’s an honor and privilege to be the ambassador of the ABFF, taking place this year in New York — a city that has inspired and cultivated so much great talent in all areas of film,” says Chestnut.
New York City is enthusiastically embracing ABFF’s move from Miami to the Big Apple. On June 4, Friday was joined by Tika Sumpter from Tyler Perry’s OWN TV series “The Have and the Have Nots” and the upcoming James Brown biopic “Get On Up,”and E! News correspondent Alicia Quarles, in promoting the festival by ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ. “With the move to New York and the dynamic festival events we’re planning,” says Friday, “we expect around 30,000 attendees.”
In addition to screenings, ABFF will present the University Master Class Series feathering two outstanding actor/director/producers. Bill Duke will conduct the “Actors Boot Camp” and Robert Townsend’s will host “The Ultimate Pitch.” Other highlights include “Because of You,” a conversation with mother and daughter Phylicia & Condola Rashad, a respective of Spike Lee’s career, and a discussion with the cast of “Get On Up” and the film’s director Tate Taylor.
For a full schedule and information on attending the American Black Film Festival, go to ABFF.com