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March 24, 2009

For Press Inquiries Only
Ghana Odet Wilson
646-375-2144, ext. 5


New York, NY ( - Film Life's 13th annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) today announced its film sections, competitions and festival awards. The ABFF is the premier international marketplace for films made by and about people of African descent. The festival will be held from June 24 to 27 in South Beach, Miami. HBO® is the festival's founding and title sponsor.

Founded in 1997, the ABFF was born out of the need to facilitate distribution opportunities for quality Black cinema, showcase the top echelon of emerging artists and promote cultural diversity within the motion picture industry. Since its inception, the ABFF has premiered over 500, films positioning it as the leading film festival for Black and urban content. "Our mission is to cultivate the careers of the most talented emerging filmmakers and facilitate the distribution of their commercially viable work," said Melanie Sharee, festival director.

The competition categories are comprised of Narrative Features, Documentaries and the HBO Short Film Competition. Narrative Features are eligible to compete for the Grand Jury Prize for Best Film, Grand Jury Prize for Best Actor and the Melvin Van Peebles Award, an award for the festival's most innovative film. Entry deadline for Narrative Features is April 14. Documentary Features are eligible to win the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary; the entry deadline is March 31. Entry deadline for the HBO Short Film Competition, which includes a prize of $20,000 in cash, is April 7. In addition to the independent films, the ABFF will open and close with special screenings of upcoming studio releases targeted to African American audiences.

The ABFF also features special contests presented in association with its corporate partners. Official Sponsor Allstate® will once again be sponsoring the Beyond February "Be Reel" Film Contest. Entrants must submit a film between 15-90 seconds in length based on the following themes: "Through All This Change, My Change Adds Up" and "What's Next?" Contest rules and guidelines can be found at and

In addition to the festival's film lineup, corporate support for the 13th annual festival includes Founding & Premier Sponsor: Home Box Office, Inc.; Official Sponsor: Allstate, The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau; Supporting Sponsors: Nielsen Media Research, Nickelodeon, Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority; Industry Partners: Writer's Guild of America West, Film Florida, Miami-Dade County Film & Entertainment Office; Media Partners: Essence, Vibe, Automotive Rhythms, Precious Times, Black Enterprise, Uptown, Upscale, Heart & Soul, Monarch and Black Noir.

The ABFF, cofounded by Jeff Friday in 1997, is a property of Film Life, Inc., a New York-based film marketing and distribution company. Its mission is to spearhead the global distribution of quality Black films and be the leading American brand producing Black movies, television, events and digital content. Film Life's key properties include the American Black Film Festival (; The Black Movie Awards on TNT (; and the ABFF DVD Series (, a partnership with Warner Home Video.

Festival registration information is available online at, via phone at 646-375-2144, ext. 2, or by e-mail:


This information has been distributed through - an extensive press release distribution service to all the African-American newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations; and - an online portal for African-American news & issues.

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