American Black Film Festival lineup features Jussie Smollett and Vivica A. Fox drama, ‘Luther: Never Too Much’ doc

The annual film festival returns to Miami in June.

The American Black Film Festival is back! The beloved film festival returns to Miami this June, and just announced its schedule of narrative and documentary features for 2024.

Each year, ABFF showcases Black talent from across the diaspora, and this year’s lineup features diverse genres, including action, psychological thriller, romance, biography, drama, comedy, and coming-of-age stories that also shine lights on “culturally relevant themes such as mental health, trafficking, homelessness, gang violence, gentrification and LGBT advocacy,” according to its press material.

“The 2024 American Black Film Festival is back to continue the celebration of both artists and attendees through our robust presentation of diverse filmmaking that spotlights Black culture,” Nice Crowd President Nicole Friday shared in a statement alongside the lineup release. “We are excited to return to Miami and invite all to come take part in a momentous week of highlighting emerging filmmakers and bringing a wide-range of empowering stories to our community.”

The lineup at this year’s American Black Film Festival includes “The Lost Holliday,” directed and co-written by Jussie Smollett (right), who stars with Vivica A. Fox (left). (Photo: The Lede Company)

The fest lineup includes “The Lost Holliday,” directed and co-written by Jussie Smollett, who stars alongside Vivica A. Fox. “After losing her estranged son, Cassandra must deal with grief and guilt while getting to know her son’s daughter and husband, who she knew nothing about,” the official synopsis reads.

“The Waterboyz,” from filmmaker Coke Daniels and produced by Ben Crump, takes viewers to the “streets of ATL,” where, “two young men cross paths, one trying to make a legit living, the other trying to create mayhem and rule the streets,” according to the synopsis. Akil McDowell, Alani “La La” Anthony, Quavo Omar Dorsey and Rockmond Dunbar star.

This year’s documentary features also include an array of exciting entries, including “Luther: Never Too Much” — the highly anticipated Luther Vandross project from Dawn Porter that theGrio previously covered at Sundance — along with “King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones” from European filmmaker Harriet Marin Jones and produced by Quincy Jones, Debbie Allen, and more.

For more on ABFF, ticketing information, event news and more, head to the official site here. Check out the full lineup below.

NARRATIVE FEATURES (U.S. & International)

“Albany Road”

On her way to the most important meeting of her career, severe weather forces a New York executive to share a rental car with her former nemesis, her ex-fiancé’s mother, only to discover that the mother is hiding a major secret.

USA | 135 min

Director: Christine Swanson
Writer: Christine Swanson
Producer: Michael Swanson
Cast: Renée Elise Goldsberry, Lynn Whitfield, J. Alphonse Nicholson, Lisa Arrindell, Gary Dourdan, Joe Holt, Rachel Nicks

“Black Heat” 
World premiere

One night, two parents, out of options, infiltrate a top-level dealer and pimp’s apartment complex to rescue their teenage daughter.

USA | 93 min

Director: Wes Miller
Writer: Wes Miller
Producers: Andrew van den Houte, Wes Miller
Cast: Jason Mitchell, Tabatha “DreamDoll” Robinson, NLE Choppa

Body of Water” 
USA premiere

Sometimes you have to take justice into your own hands.

USA | 103 min

Director: Terrisha Kearse
Writers: Steve Fauquier, David Wendell Boykins, Terrisha Kearse, Mico Ramos
Producers: Tara Carbajal, Terrisha Kearse, Keita Don Azu, Seven Bailey, Amber Bolden
Cast: David Wendell Boykins, Dallas Schaefer, Kiya Roberts, Derek S. Orr, Kimberly Bailey

Drip Like Coffee” 
World premiere

An unexpected romance evolves between two Brooklyn baristas, Kali, an aspiring coffee professional, and Mel, a budding photographer.

USA | 86 min

Director: Anaiis Cisco
Writer: Anaiis Cisco
Producers: Anaiis Cisco, Ryan Rivard, Mary Pena, Kathryn Boyd-Batstone
Cast: Iman Artwell Freeman, Kashanie Lagrotta Butler, Ralphy Lopez

Recommended Stories

Freedom Hair

Based on the inspiring true story of Melony Armstrong, a mother who works at a shelter for battered women decides to start a hair braiding business and must overcome obstacles imposed by a powerful cartel and the state of Mississippi.

USA | 99 min

Director: Dianne Houston
Writer: Dianne Houston
Producers: Stacey Parks, Lana Link, Rob Pfaltzgraff
Cast: Simona Brown, Jeremie Harris, Sophia Bush, Erica Taze

He Looked Like A Postcard
World premiere

A poet balancing single motherhood returns to her hometown to rebuild her life and finds love and so much more after receiving a magical postcard under her door. 

USA | 97 min

Director: Qasim Basir
Writer: jessica Care moore
Producers: jessica Care moore, Lasana Hotep,  Gingi Rochelle
Cast: jessica Care moore, Tobias Truvillion, Jaden Anthony Moore, Nicci Gilbert, Donnell Rawlings, Omar Regan

World premiere

A woman’s husband goes missing soon after moving into their new home, but strange and paranormal events start to occur upon his return.

USA | 88 min

Director: Sulayman Tahir
Writers: Sulayman Tahir, Jordan Tortorello
Producers: Jordan Tortorello, Dallas Hart, Chris Tortorello
Cast: Andria B. Langston, Patrick Walker, Patricia Mizen, D’Kia Anderson, Sami Tortorello

World premiere

A woman wakes tied to a bed, and her captor tries to manipulate her into believing they are a couple.

USA | 83 min

Director: Byron Manuel
Writer: Byron Manuel
Producers: Byron Manuel, Ryan Rojas, JP Ouellette, Cash Oliver, Franco Tavera, George Wriighster, Cameron Duncan, Lily Terrazas, Raul Terrazas, Kassandra Lee Diaz, Rich Morrow.
Cast: Kassandra Lee Diaz, DeRon Cash, Rich Morrow, Efrangeliz Medina, Dean Wil, Herbert Morales, Del Harrison.

The Final Play” 
USA premiere

A retired pro basketball player seeks true love and a new beginning, but past traumas threaten his happiness.

USA | 108 min

Director: Tailiah Breon
Writers: Jeremy Pargo, Barshea Lowery
Producers: Jeremy Pargo, Valentina Barton, Tailiah Breon, Ernestine Morrison Johnson
Cast: Jeremy Pargo, Hazel Renee, Jerod Haynes, Navv Greene, Vanessa D. Fant, Brea Joy

The Lost Holliday” 
World premiere

After losing her estranged son, Cassandra must deal with grief and guilt while getting to know her son’s daughter and husband, who she knew nothing about.

USA | 96 min

Director: Jussie Smollett
Writers: Jerrell Chesney, Jussie Smollett
Producers: Jussie Smollett, Mona Scott-Young, Tressa Smallwood, Tom Wilson, Joe “Jody” Williams, Janet Smollett, Eddie Mac, Stephanie Gayle, Jerrell Chesney, Anthony Smallwood, Sheila Legette and Vivica A. Fox
Cast: Vivica A. Fox, Jussie Smollett, Jabari Redd, Marquise Vilsón, Brittany S. Hall, Miriam A. Hyman, Londyn Carter, Memphis Cade, Gina Belafonte, Leslie D. Baker

The Odds
World premiere

A young man stumbles into good fortune but it attracts the wrong attention.

Nigeria | 93 min

Director: Kewa Oni
Writer: Kewa Oni
Producers: Seun Opabisi, Sean McNichol, Phiona Okunmu, Tunji Jamiu Shoyode
Cast: Molawa Davies, Osita Iheme, Gbemi Akinlade, Kelechi Udegbe

The Waterboyz”
World premiere

In the streets of ATL, two young men cross paths, one trying to make a legit living, the other trying to create mayhem and rule the streets.

USA | 89 min

Director: Coke Daniels
Writer: Coke Daniels
Producers: Coke Daniels, Errol Sadler, Dolapo Erinkitola, Cameron S Mitchell, Brian Sher, Coach K, Pee Thomas, Ben Crump, Tirrell D Whitley
Cast: Akil McDowell, Alani “La La” Anthony, Quavo Omar Dorsey, Rockmond Dunbar

Young King” 
World premiere

As Diondre Howell readjusts to civilian life and struggles to cope with the scars of the Iraq war, he increasingly becomes a threat to those he cares about the most — his family.

USA | 94 min

Director: Bryant T. Griffin
Writer: Bryant T. Griffin
Producer: Selena Leoni
Cast: Vince Washington, Tarra Riggs, Kirby Griffin, Vaughn Wilkinson, James Arthur Sims


A Time To Yell: More Than A Statue” 
World premiere

Former Charlottesville City Council member Dr. Wes Bellamy’s impassioned activism reveals the tumultuous journey for racial justice sparked by the controversial removal of Confederate statues and leading to one of modern America’s most divisive conflicts.

USA | 63 min

Directors: Eric W. Newman & Daniel B. Levin
Producers: Eric W. Newman, Daniel B. Levin, Daryl Davis
Cast: Dr. Wes Bellamy, Kristin Szakos, Eze Amos, Will Jones, Courtney Commander

Family Tree

In the American South, Black forest landowners fight to maintain their family legacy and create sustainable forests for generations to come.

USA | 97 min

Director: Jennifer MacArthur
Producer: Rupert Maconick
Cast: the Jefferies Family, the Williams Family, Sam Cook, Mavis Gragg, Alton Perry

It Takes A Village: An East Van Story” 
USA premiere

The journey of two Ugandan brothers unfolds in East Vancouver highlighting the impact of community in empowering at-risk youth to triumph over adversity.

Canada| 79 min

Director: Christopher Cho
Producers: Jonathan Mubanda, Christopher Cho, Stephanie Watt-Mubanda, David Mubanda, Wolfgang Klassen
Cast: Jonathan Mubanda, David Mubanda, Theresa Campbell

King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones

A European filmmaker searches for the truth about her grandfather, the most famous Policy King of all times, who rose to the heights of financial and political prominence in Chicago in the 1930s, despite discrimination.

France | 98 min

Director: Harriet Marin Jones
Producer: Harriet Marin Jones
Executive producers: Quincy Jones, Debbie Allen
Cast: Quincy Jones, Nathan Thompson, Harriet Jones, Timuel Black

Luther: Never Too Much

Dawn Porter offers an in-depth look into the life and career of Luther Vandross as he overcomes personal and professional challenges to become one of the greatest vocalists of all time.

USA | 100 min

Director: Dawn Porter
Producers: Trish D Chetty, Ged Doherty, Jamie Foxx, Datari Turner, Leah Smith
Executive producers: Jamie Foxx, Datari Turner, Jon Platt
Cast: Fonzi Thornton, Robin Clark, Carlos Alomar, Danyel Smith, Jon Platt, Ava Cherry, Seveda Williams, Nile Rodgers, Valerie Simpson, Marcus Miller, Nat Adderly Jr., Jamie Foxx, Lisa Fischer, Kevin Owens, Richard Marx, Clive Davis, Mariah Carey, Dionne Warwick, Max Szadek

Train: The Dick ‘Night Train’ Lane Story” 
World premiere

Trace the remarkable rise of Dick ‘Night Train’ Lane, from the concrete fields of the 1920s to Madden Football stardom, as he transforms from being discarded in a trash can to earning a place in the Football Hall of Fame.

USA | 133 min

Director: Eric “Ptah” Herbert
Producers: Carlos Mendez, Jennifer Karsting, Richard Lane Jr, Richard Walker, Eric “Ptah” Herbert, Mack Tompkins, Andre Mitchell, Devin Mitchell
Cast: Eric Dickerson, Ray Lewis, Warren Moon, Dick Lebeau, Rod Woodson, Dick Butkus, Leigh Steinberg, Ct Fletcher, Guy Torry, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, Henry Leverette

“Who In The Hell Is Regina Jones?” 
World premiere

Before Rolling Stone, there was Soul Newspaper. Behind Soul, there was Regina Jones. Against all odds, Regina blazed her own path, and at 80 has found herself again.

USA | 99 min

Director: Soraya Selene, Billy Miossi
Producer: Alissa Shapiro
Cast: Regina Jones, Matt Jones