September 20, 2018
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Festival heads back to SouthBeach June 24-27, 2009


 – Tony Award-nominated actress Sanaa Lathan, who was most recently seen in the Tyler Perry film, “The Family That Preys,” has been named president of the 2009 American Black Film Festival’s (ABFF) Grand Jury. The ABFF is the premier destination event celebrating and awarding independent films by and about people of color. Home Box Office, Inc. (HBO), is the festival’s Founding and Premier Sponsor. 


Founded in 1997, the ABFF was born out of the need to generate distribution opportunities for independent Black films and promote cultural diversity within the motion picture industry by strengthening the Black filmmaking community through resource sharing, education, artistic collaboration and career development. This year’s festival will take place in Miami, Florida, from June 24-27.


Lathan, who succeeds last year’s jury president Dennis Haysbert, can be seen starring alongside Matthew Broderick in the upcoming film “Wonderful World,” and lends her voice to FOX’s “The Cleveland Show,” a spin-off of the acclaimed series “Family Guy.” This Tony, Independent Spirit, Black Movie and NAACP Image awards nominee, known for her roles in “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Something New,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Love and Basketball” and “The Best Man,” has caught the attention of both critics and audiences with her portrayal of strong, witty and thought-provoking characters.

“I’m thrilled and honored to serve as the jury president for the 2009 ABFF.  I’ve had the pleasure of attending the festival over the years, and have been so impressed by the work they do to nurture and encourage our up-and-coming filmmakers.  The world of independent film is key to pushing the boundaries of our industry, and I find lately the films that excite me the most are coming out of the film festivals. I look forward to helping discover and showcase the future artists of Hollywood,” Lathan said.

Born and raised in New York City, Lathan attended the ManhattanCenter for Science and Mathematics before earning a degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley, and then pursued her interest in acting at the Yale School of Drama. “Sanaa typifies the mission of the ABFF, to recognize, showcase and celebrate the best and brightest of emerging African American talent,” said Jeff Friday, CEO of Film Life and founder of the ABFF. “Sanaa has always set a great example for young African American actors by choosing roles that give women of color an example of who and what they can aspire to. I am grateful that Sanaa and many other prestigious members of the Hollywood community recognize the importance of what the ABFF has been doing over the past 13 years, and are eager to give back and support our mission,” Friday continued.

Corporate support for the 13th annual festival includes Founding & Premier Sponsor: Home Box Office, Inc.; Premier Sponsor: BET Networks; Official Sponsors: Allstate and Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB); Supporting Sponsors: Nielsen Media Research, Nickelodeon, HSBC, TNT, Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority (VCA) and Parish-Nation; Industry and Marketing Partners: One Village Entertainment , Stella Artois, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Soblu Inc., Codeblack Entertainment, Tyler Perry Studios, SAGIndie, New York Women in Film & Television, Final Draft, FilMiami: Miami-Dade Office of Film & Entertainment, The Governor’s Office of Film & Entertainment, The Broward Alliance, City of Miami Mayor’s Office of Film & Cultural Affairs, Film in Florida, GMCVB Miami Boutique Hotels; Writer’s Guild of America West; Film Florida; Vitaminwater; and Media Partners: Essence, Vibe, Black Enterprise, Uptown, Upscale, Heart & Soul, Automotive Rhythms, Monarch, Black Noir, Precious Times and EUR Web.

Founded in 1997, the American Black Film Festival is an industry retreat and competitive marketplace for films by and about people of color. The festival’s mission is to facilitate distribution opportunities for quality films and introduce the top echelon of emerging artists to the industry at large. Since its inception, the ABFF has premiered over 500 films, positioning it as the leading film festival for Black and urban content. The ABFF is a property of Film Life, Inc., a New York-based event marketing, production and distribution company founded in 2002 by Jeff Friday (CEO).


Festival and registration information is available online at, via phone 646-375-2144 ext 1 or by e-mail:



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