Will Packer to serve as first ever jury president for ABFF

The festival returns for its 25th anniversary this fall

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American Black Film Festival has announced that producer Will Packer will serve as its first ever jury president for this year’s festival.

ABFF Ventures LLC announced today that Will Packer, the successful film producer of films like Girls Trip, Straight Outta Compton, The Photograph, and more, will serve as jury president for the festival’s 25th anniversary. As theGrio previously reported, this year’s ABFF will follow a new hybrid format this fall.

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ATLANTA, GEORGIA – FEBRUARY 06: Filmmaker Will Packer speaks onstage during a special screening of ‘The Photograph’, hosted by Will Packer and presented by Universal Pictures on February 6, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Universal)

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According to the official statement obtained by theGrio, Packer will “help the festival expand its Jury and curate a diverse slate of film and television content.”

The new role is being called a “coming home” for Packer, as he began his career with his film Trois directed by Rob Hardy, which premiered at the festival back in 1999. Since then, Packer has maintained a healthy working relationship with ABFF, serving on their Advisory Board and “lending his expertise to mentor emerging artists.”

Packer said in a statement, “ABFF is one of the single most instrumental institutions in my career.” He also spoke to this step in his career as a way for him to pave the way for others to come up behind him, saying, “This is more than just a festival for me. It’s very existence guarantees there will be more Will Packers making movies from a unique perspective and telling the stories of underserved audiences.”

ABFF Ventures Founder & CEO Jeff Friday is “thrilled” to welcome Packer as the jury president. He said in his statement, “We are thrilled to have our dear friend Will serve as this year’s ABFF Jury President. His relationship with the ABFF family spans more than 20 years and his path to success embodies the festival’s mission – empowering Black creatives to thrive in Hollywood.”

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As theGrio previously reported, ABFF was postponed last year for the coronavirus pandemic, and ABFF president Nicole Friday shared her excitement for the festival’s return in an official statement.

She explained, “We are so excited to return to Miami Beach to celebrate 25 years of storytelling and storytellers, and engage with a global audience around the world through our virtual programming on ABFF Play.

ABFF has served as a place of inspiration and a launching pad for so many great filmmakers and artists, and we remain committed to using our platform to catapult a new generation of Black and Brown filmmakers forward.”

Submissions are now open for the prestigious festival, with sections like HBO Short Film Competition, Narrative Features, Documentary Features, and Web Series ready for talent to send in their material.

For more information on the festival, submissions, and more, head to abff.com. Follow ABFF on TwitterInstagram, and use the hashtag #ABFF21 and #ABFF to join the ABFF conversation and stay up to date on the latest announcements.

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