Miami Beach comes alive with dynamic excitement as the 28th American Black Film Festival (ABFF) opens spectacularly. On June 12, the evening began with heartfelt welcome speeches from the visionary Founder and CEO of Nice Crowd, Jeff Friday, and the inspiring President of Nice Crowd, Nicole Friday. Their words set a powerful tone for the festival, celebrating the diverse mosaic of Black storytelling and creativity.

ABFF Creative Director Issa Rae delivered poignant closing remarks, emphasizing the festival’s commitment to fostering diverse voices and groundbreaking narratives in the film industry. Her words resonated deeply with the audience, marking a triumphant return for this illustrious festival.

At the heart of the evening was the prestigious 27th HBO® Short Film Award Showcase, one of the nation’s most esteemed short film competitions. Five exceptional filmmakers competed for the highly coveted $10,000 prize in this Academy Award-qualifying event.

For the first time, the showcase proudly featured films exclusively directed by Black women, offering an evening of extraordinary creativity and powerful narratives:

  • Chocolate with Sprinkles: A touching family fantasy/drama starring Reno Wilson, directed and written by Huriyyah Muhammad.
  • Muna: A deeply moving story of a British-Somali teenager exploring grief and culture, directed and written by Warda Mohamed.
  • Once Upon a Dime: A profound examination of the unhoused community, directed and written by Lauren Julia.
  • The Brown Dog: An evocative animated short narrated by the late Michael K. Williams, directed by Nadia Hallgren and Jamie-James Medina.
  • The Rebel Girls: A stirring narrative set in the 1960s civil rights era, directed and written by Felicia D Henderson, and executive produced by Mara Brock Akil.

The red carpet shone with the arrival of notable figures including Jeff Friday (Founder/CEO, ABFF), Nicole Friday (President, ABFF), Bevy Smith (Host), alongside filmmakers, cast members, and ABFF Social Ambassadors such as Wesley Armstrong, Rue Palacios, Chase Brown, Melonie Torres, and Charles Brockman, among others.

This year’s festival promises to be a celebration of Black excellence in filmmaking, showcasing groundbreaking works and visionary talents. The ABFF continues to be a beacon for diverse voices in the film industry, reaffirming its status as a premier cultural event.