ABFF announce 2022 official film selections

The American Black Film Festival returns in June with a hybrid ceremony in Miami

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The American Black Film Festival is back for its 26th year, and theGrio has the official list of film selections for the festival taking place both in-person and virtually in Miami this June.

As theGrio previously reported, ABFF spends every year celebrating “emerging artists and content made by and about people of African descent.” Now, weeks ahead of the festival, ABFF has announced their official slate, including their opening film: CIVIL, from filmmaker Nadia Hallgren.

The new documentary feature is described as “an intimate vérité look at the life of maverick civil rights attorney Ben Crump.” Per the official press release, “Considered a trailblazer of his field, CIVIL gives viewers an inside look at Crump’s mission to raise the value of Black life. As the civil lawyer for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Black farmers, and banking while Black victims, Crump challenges America to come to terms with what it owes his clients.”

Credit: American Black Film Festival

Nicole Friday, festival producer and president of ABFF Ventures LLC. shared a statement regarding CIVIL saying, “We are thrilled to open the festival with CIVIL, a timely documentary bringing light to issues of social justice and equity in America. We’ve curated an entertaining and thought-provoking lineup of features, documentaries, and web series and I am so excited to share our content with a live audience again.” 

As theGrio previously reported,  industry veteran Michael Quigley has stepped up as jury president this year, promising to help “expand its Jury and curate a diverse slate of film and television content.” Quigley shared, “I am honored to serve as jury president at this year’s ABFF, the preeminent film festival for discovering and championing Black and Brown filmmakers.”

Check out the full list of selections from the upcoming festival below:

Between Sins *World Premiere

Faced with the responsibilities of an ill mother and estranged daughter, Coy searches for redemption for past sins while trying to avoid the pitfalls that could lead to repeating them. 

USA | 83 min 

Director: Carlos Miller  

Writer: Carlos Miller 

Producers: Tyler Cheatham, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Miller 

Cast: George Taylor, Rigoberto Duval, Carolyn Johnson, Skyla Rain Rowe, Angela Kohn  

Bite of a Mango *World Premiere 

2020 comes with enough challenges of its own, but as four best friends each attempt to overcome their own trying situations, they are left unsure if the group can survive.  

CANADA | 98 min                                                                                                               

Director: Ron Dias                                                                                                     

Writers: Joanne Jansen, Ron Dias                                                                                                

Producers: Joanne Jansen, Ron Dias                                                                                                                      

Cast: Jayne Kamara, Ryan Rosery, Orville Cummings, Nathan Taylor                                    

Escaping Paradise *World Premiere

2020 Winter TCA Tour - Day 9
Michael Quigley at the 2020 Winter TCA Press Tour on Jan. 15, 2020 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

A young couple’s anniversary trip turns deadly in a foreign land. 

PHILIPPINES | 91 min 

Director: Paul Tanter 

Writer: Deji LaRay 

Producers: Thomas Q. Jones, Deji LaRay, DeNorvious Pickett 

Cast: Deji LaRay, Simon Phillips, Shayla Hale 

Feel Like Ghosts *World Premiere

Two recent exes with an undeniable connection confront what could have been if their  

cultural differences hadn’t pushed them to new lives on opposite coasts. 

USA | 100 min 

Director: Kali Baker-Johnson 

Writer: Kali Baker-Johnson 

Producer: Lola Ridgell 

Cast: Nican Robinson, Misha Molani 

God of Dreams *U.S. Festival Premiere

Welcome to the future, where dreaming is Illegal. 

USA | 104 min 

Director: Jurian Isabelle 

Writer: Jurian Isabelle 

Producers: Jurian Isabelle, Joe Langford 

Cast: Ann Nesby, Julia Reilly, Jessie Reeder, Keshawn Pettigrew, Omar Cook 

Our Father, the Devil 

An African immigrant’s quiet life in a small French town is upended by the arrival of a charismatic Catholic priest, whom she recognizes as the warlord who slaughtered her  

family. 

USA | FRANCE | 108 min 

Director: Ellie Foumbi  

Writer: Ellie Foumbi 

Producers: Ellie Foumbi, Joseph Mastantuono 

Cast: Babetida Sadjo, Souleymane Sy Savané, Jennifer Tchiakpe 

Scheme Queens *World Premiere

Four friends who are down on their luck decide to rob a ruthless Rastafarian jewel thief by conning his second in command.  

USA | 94 min 

Director: Cas Sigers Beedles 

Writer: Cas Sigers Beedles 

Producers: Cas Sigers Beedles, Ernestine Johnson 

Cast:  B. Simone, Ernestine Johnson, Brii Reneé, Jacky Oh 

Survival 

ABFF American Black Film Festival thegrio.com
Jeff Friday, founder of the American Black Film Festival, speaks onstage in Beverly Hills during “BET Presents the American Black Film Festival Honors” in Feb. 2017 in Beverly Hills. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

A car-jacked mother and entrepreneur is forced to bond with her violent assailant in order  

to escape. 

USA | 90 min 

Director: Damon Jamal 

Writers: Damon Jamal, Dave Eisenstark 

Producers: Leah Daniels Butler, Henry Black Butler, Damone Smith, Damon Jamal 

Cast: Elise Neal, Demetrius Grosse, Dylan McNamara, Miguel A. Nuñez Jr. 

The Threesome *World Premiere

A sex comedy told in three ways. 

USA | 92 min

Director: Jamal Dedeaux 

Writer: Jamal Dedeaux 

Producers: Jaleel Ghafur, Rebecca Haze, Jamal Dedeaux 

Cast: Andrea Lewis, Brittany S. Hall, Jerrel O’Neal 

You Married Dat 

Two happy brides, one dead guy! 

USA | 114 min 

Director: Dame Pierre 

Writers: Byron Manuel, Curtis L. Ellison Jr., Tarek Abdelkhalig 

Producers: Timothy Christian, Sherah Rider, Elijah Kelley 

Cast: Juhahn Jones, Apryl Jones, LisaRaye, Audra Kinkead, Michael Colyar 

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES 

A competitive section for nonfiction feature films directed by persons of African descent or centered on the culture and experiences of persons of African descent. Films in this category are eligible to be nominated to compete for the Jury Award for Best Documentary (presented by Amazon, $2,500 cash prize). The following films represent the 2022 official selections in the Documentary Features category: 

A Woman on the Outside 

Kristal is a young, ambitious Philadelphian driven to keep families connected to their incarcerated loved ones. But when her father and brother return from prison, she confronts the ultimate question: can she reunite her own family?  

USA | 85 min 

Directors: Zara Katz, Lisa Riordan Seville 

Writer: Kiara C. Jones 

Producers: Kiara C. Jones, Zara Katz, Lisa Riordan Seville 

Cast: Kristal Bush, Nyvae Scott, Kristal Speaks 

American Immigrants *World Premiere 

Being homeless is an experience, not a person. 

USA | 60 min 

Director: Ken Miles 

Writer: Ken Miles
Producer: Ken Miles 

Cast: Jorge Colina, Nathan White 

Black As U R: a michael rice film 

Micheal Rice’s kaleidoscopic journey through the fault lines of race, gender and 

sexuality in America. 

USA | 87 min 

Director: Micheal Rice 

Writer: Micheal Rice 

Producer: Edward Radford 

Executive Producers: Micheal Rice, Gerald Oxford 

Cast: Micheal Rice, Dr. Charlene Sinclair, Michael Roberson  

Blind Eye Artist  *World Premiere 

Jeff and Nicole Friday, founders and producers of ABFF

The origin story of painter Justin Wadlington, blind in his left eye.  

USA | 76 min 

Director: Ashwin Chaudhary 

Producers: Ashwin Chaudhary, Jonathan Korn, Justin Wadlington 

Cast: Justin Wadlington, Glenn Fuhrman 

Drowning in Silence 

A mother goes on a healing journey to investigate the silent epidemic of childhood  

drowning after losing her son. 

USA | 81 min 

Director: Chezik Tsunoda 

Writers: Chezik Tsunoda, Claire Ave’Lallemant 

Producers: Hill Harper, Joe Beshenkovsky, Chezik Tsunod 

Let The Church Say *World Premiere 

In a time of racial upheaval and a multitude of woes affecting marginalized communities, a young African American filmmaker journeys to the heart of the Black experience to find the answer to a daunting question: Is the Black church dead? 

USA | 70 min 

Director: Rafiq J Nabali 

Writer: Rafiq J Nabali 

Producers: Joe Howell, Nancy Howard, Danielle Nebeliuk 

Cast: Jekalyn Carr, Dr. Teresa Fry Brown, Dr. Walter Fluker, Darlene McCoy 

Lovely Jackson *World Premiere 

America’s longest wrongfully held exonerated prisoner, Rickey Jackson, returns to the prison where his 39-year journey of survival began and guides his younger self from death row to freedom. 

USA | 104 min 

Director: Matt Waldeck 

Writers: Rickey Jackson, Matt Waldeck 

Producers: Rickey Jackson, Matt Waldeck, Jillian Wolstein, Ben Hecht, Travis Killian 

Cast: Rickey Jackson, Edward Vernon, Pr. Anthony Singleton, Mario Beverly, Devito Parker Jr. 

The Young Vote *World Premiere 

Filmmaker Diane Robinson follows a diverse group of students and activists during the 2020 election to understand young people’s perceptions of voting and civic engagement. 

USA | 67 min 

Director: Diane Robinson 

Writer: Diane Robinson 

Producer: Diane Robinson 

Cast: Ariana Tulay, Dariel Cruz Rodriguez, Elena Ashburn, Liz Magallanes, Sophia DeLoretto-Chudy, John King, Bradley Tusk, Jeremy Gruber 

WEB SERIES 

A competitive section for short-form episodic television directed by or produced and written by persons of African descent. Each series in this section will compete for the Jury Award for Best Web Series (presented by Comcast NBCUniversal, $2,500 cash prize). The following are the 2022 official selections in the Web Series category: 

Bourn Kind: The Tiny Kindness Project 

A Black/Jewish artist creates a project of kindness to celebrate connection in his community. 

USA | 12 min 

Director: Rachel Myers 

Writer: Rachel Myers 

Producer: Tamika Lamison, Connie Jo Sechrist, Rachel Myers 

Cast: Bourn Rich

Dreamers 

The zany misadventures of two sisters navigating the ups and downs of life, as artists, in the wild and unpredictable streets of La La Land.  

USA | 7:30 min 

Director: Kimberly Dooley   

Writer: Kimberly Dooley  

Producer: Kimberly Dooley 

Cast: Kimberly Dooley, Dayna Dooley 

I am Mara *World Premiere

Striving to break free from a life of espionage, murder, and destructive family ties, Mara sets out to fabricate a new life for herself, but soon realizes the truth will always reveal itself and all sins must be atoned for. 

USA | 14:33 min 

Directors: Cody Duncum, Demetrius Feaster 

Writers: Candace West, Clarinda D’Cruze 

Producer: Candace West, Demetrius Feaster, Clarinda D’Cruze 

Cast: Candace Kirstin West, Keith Elgin Douglas, Alek President, Jose Navarro, Virginia Elliot, David Chin 

Jonathan’s World *U.S. Festival Premiere

Boy genius sips magical potion, causing him to obtain enhanced capabilities. 

USA | 14 min 

Director: Tyler D. Lambert  

Writer: Tyler D. Lambert   

Producer: Tyler D. Lambert  

Cast: Tyler D. Lambert 

Last Name Unknown *World Premiere

Beyond Hope Youth Shelter’s homeless youth beat the odds, and find their place in society.  

USA | 15 min 

Director: Dui Jarrod  

Writer: Dui Jarrod 

Producers: Kevin “Coach K” Lee, Pierre “Pee” Thomas, Dui Jarrod, Chris Hicks, 

David Blackman 

Cast: Chakeefe Gordon, Erika Norrell, Braxton Jordan, Lindsey G. Smith 

Layered, “Stalker” *World Premiere

A series following three black women from Philadelphia, two of them Muslim, trying to break into the media industry while being met with challenges in mental health, faith, and loss due to gun violence. 

USA | 12:57 min 

Director: Zareefa Abdul-Adl 

Writers: Arraiyan DuBose, Aiko Brown, Zareefa Abdul-Adl 

Producers: Aiko Brown, Arraiyan DuBose, Zareefa Abdul-Adl  

Cast: Mercedes White, LaPorscha Rodgers, Aisha Saran 

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