ABFF announces 2023 HBO Short Film Finalists, Series, and Voices of Culture selections

ABFF has exclusively revealed the finalists to theGrio, all of which are set to compete in the returning film festival this June in Miami.

The American Black Film Festival has officially announced the selection of finalists who will compete in its annual HBO Short Film Award Showcase as well as its Series and Voices in Culture lineups, exclusively to theGrio.

As theGrio previously reported, ABFF will once again return to South Beach, Miami, this June for its 27th year. Now a staple at the festival, the HBO Short Film Award Showcase was first launched 25 years ago and is now held as one of the most prestigious short film competitions across the globe.

5th American Black Film Festival Honors: A Celebration Of Excellence In Hollywood - Arrivals
Nicole Friday, president & COO of ABFF Ventures, Janelle Monáe and Jeff Friday, founder & CEO of ABFF Ventures, attend the 5th American Black Film Festival Honors: A Celebration of Excellence in Hollywood at 1 Hotel West Hollywood on March 5, 2023, in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Nicole Friday, president, COO ABFF Ventures and festival producer, shared in a statement, “We have curated a diverse lineup of authentic stories created by talented artists that give visibility to Black creatives in the industry. Over 25 years ago, we launched the HBO Short Film Award, spotlighting groundbreaking filmmakers and elevating Black content for mainstream audiences to experience.  Many dynamic storytellers have been a part of the ABFF community, and we are proud to continue our legacy of showcasing gifted creators.”  

The five selected filmmakers will gather at the festival next month, where one grand prize winner will be selected on Saturday, June 17, in the Miami Beach Convention Center. At the event hosted by Sirius XM’s Bevy Smith, the winner will win the HBO Short Film Award and a cash prize of $10,000. Check out the official finalists below:

Radio Silence (written by Nakia Secrest and directed by Ric Serena )

As a successful radio DJ, Tracey made a career out of her love for music and its connection to the human experience. But when confronted with her mother’s illness, she is forced to reevaluate her own life. Divided between the hauntingly beautiful memories of her past, fears of the future, and the painful realities of her present, she gives herself the ultimate challenge — a broadcast of reconciliation. USA | 2023 | 20 minutes

Jelly (written and directed by Anndi Jinelle Liggett)

Jelly is a young Black girl in Bed-Stuy with a peculiar fascination with death. While trying to solve the mysterious case of a missing neighbor, she comes to terms with a more personal disappearance. Narrated by André Holland. USA | 2023 | 10 minutes

Fathead (written and directed by c. Craig Patterson)

When one of the last free children of Junkyard Paradise has her brother stolen away from her, no ragamuffin army or vicious beasts will stop her from getting him back. USA | 2023 | 20 minutes

Recovery Chain (written and directed by Quamé A. Hamlin )

After being evicted by his mother, a rebellious teen must adapt to life with his distant father and his father’s new family. USA | 2022 | 17 minutes

Jerome (written and directed by Gianfranco Fernández-Ruiz )

Basketball connects Jerome to his long-absent father, though not in the ways he wishes. As he wrestles with his own concept of family, he must confront his father’s legacy on and off the court. USA | 2023 | 14 minutes

ABFF also announced its “Series” competition finalists of short-form episodic television submissions. Check out those selections below:

Being Alex *World Premiere (USA | 11 min)

Written and directed by Christopher J. Love 

Bloom Room *U.S. Festival Premiere (Canada | 8 min)

Directed by Tristen Sutherland, Christian Anderson, Yasmijin Nicolle, Sochima Nwakaeze and Ajhanis Charley

Written by Tristen Sutherland, Christian Anderson, Yasmijin Nicolle, Sochima Nwakaeze, Ajhanis Charley, Maryan Haye, Anthony Meeks and Yonas Ogubu

Buzz Kill *World Premiere USA | 15 min

A charismatic and chubby Black queer millennial’s life is shaken up when romance, career and family issues collide.  

Directed by Jessie B. Evans

Written by Jessie B. Evans and Terrance “Mo County” Williams

Criblore: A Horror Anthology *World Premiere (USA | 14 min)

Written and directed by Lucien Christian Adderley and Richard “Byrd” Wilson 

Dolla Van USA | 9 min

Directed by Gabriel A. Tolliver

Written by Gabriel A. Tolliver and Vinay Chowdry

I Was a Soul Train Dancer USA | 11 min

Written and directed by Timiza Sanyika

I’ll Make You Better: Thomas Jules, Knicks Fan Counselor *U.S. Festival Premiere USA | 2 min

Directed by Andrew Edghill

Written by Andrew Edghill and Lee O. Valentin  

Love Trial *U.S. Festival Premiere USA | 15 min

Written and directed by Brandon Henderson

Shadowboxing – Round 1 *World Premiere USA | 15 min

Directed by Mo McRae 

Written by Mustafa Speaks 

The Federation *World Premiere USA | 15 min

Flex Incredible navigates the explosive world of professional wrestling in the 1990s, where the line between fantasy and reality is subjective in more ways than one. 

Written and directed by Kola Olasiji

The Lesbian Homie USA | 10 min

A man tries to forget his recent past failed toxic situationship by pursuing another woman who he finds to have a lot of the same traits and attitude as the previous woman…..Déjà vu maybe? 

Directed by Jahdai Pickett

Written by Jahdai Pickett and J. Antonio Figueroa

The Table *World Premiere USA | 12 min

The journey of London and Ed’s relationship is told over seven years primarily at their dining room table. 

Directed by Caralene Robinson, Jamal Hodge and Crystal Whaley

Written by Caralene Robinson and Nina Simone Moore 

Third Wheel Material USA | 11 min

When a perpetual third wheel struggles to find love and a sense of belonging, he decides to ask his two best friends, a couple, for help. 

Written and directed by Lyandre Pierre

Wallflower *World Premiere Canada | 15 min

Directed by Tristan Barrocks

Written by Safia Bartholomew and Kern Carter 

“Voices of Culture” is a non-competitive section of narrative short films at the festival. See the 2023 selections below:

Bizarro World *World Premiere USA | 8 min

Six unrelated, humorous, absurd stories, shot in and around L.A. 

Directed by Jonathan Salmon and Abdi Ibrahim 

Blackifier *World Premiere USA | 15 min

Directed by Christian Kamaal 

Written by Jalen Young

Burning Rubber *U.S. Festival Premiere USA | 7 min

Directed by Chris Fequiere 

Written by Dara King 

Chidera *World Premiere 

USA | 18 min

Directed by Sope Aluko and Adaora Nwandu-Earl 

Fifty-four Days UK | 18 min

Directed by Cat White and Phoebe Torrance

Written by Cat White

Grown USA | 18 min

Written and directed by Jocko Sims

Love Taps *World Premiere USA | 14 min

Written and directed by Derrick Woodyard

Monochromatic *World Premiere UK | 13 min

Written and directed by Karen Bryson

Oba *World Premiere UK | 11min

Written and directed by Femi Ladi

Pema France | 19 min

Written and directed by Victoria Neto

Port of a Prince USA/Haiti | 15 min

Written and directed by JR Aristide

Reunion *World Premiere USA | 16 min

Directed by Zainab Jah and Tim Naylor

Written by Tim Naylor and Zainab Jah 

Somebody *World Premiere USA | 12 min

Directed by JoJoe Earley

Written by Ava Mone’t

Speak Up Brotha! USA | 15 min

Directed by Wes Andre Goodrich

Written by Roderick Lawrence, Obbie West and James J. Johnson

The Fairchild 

USA | 15 min

Written and directed by Danny Rogers

TikTok Challenged USA | 9 min

Written and directed by Ivan Rome

Welcome to Afrotree USA | 21 min

Written and directed by Chase Parker

ABFF runs June 14–18 in Miami Beach, with the virtual festival streaming June 19–25 on ABFF Play. Head to the official site here for more info.

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