American Black Film Festival Unveils Slate, Including Yusuf Hawkins HBO Doc

Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn (Credit: HBO)

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) on Thursday announced the slate of films set to compete in its 24th annual awards competition.

The festival, which is scheduled to take place virtually this year from Aug. 21-30, will feature independent Black cinema, studio premieres, conversations and panels, and virtual networking events.

Among the high-profile events is a special screening of the HBO documentary, Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn, which was the winning project of ABFF’s Feature Documentary Initiative.

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The Muta’Ali Muhammad-directed film recounts the real-life story of a Black teenager who was murdered by a group of young white men in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

The film will premiere on HBO Max on Aug. 12, and captures the outraged response that Hawkins’ death sparked in New York, as well as examine how Hawkins’ death exposed deep racial prejudices and inequities.

The festival, which typically draws 7,000 to 10,000 attendees to Miami Beach, will open its virtual doors to a global audience, offering most of its programming free of charge.

“The Best of the ABFF Awards Ceremony,” slated for Aug. 30, will be simulcast on the ABFF website and on the IMDb homepage.

Of the 90 plus movies in this year’s festival, the overwhelming majority are from Black filmmakers.

“The more than 90 films in this year’s festival are the work of a group of powerful and passionate storytellers who reflect the diversity of voices in our industry,” Jeff Friday, founder and CEO ABFF Ventures, said in a statement. “Creating an opportunity for these filmmakers to reach a broader audience is our core mission. We are thrilled to have IMDb on board to simulcast the Awards Show.”

According to a press release, the talent roster featured in this year’s films includes Big Boy, Chris Brown, Cedric the Entertainer, Chris Chalk, Frankie Faison, Vivica A. Fox, Marla Gibbs, Macy Gray, Jackie Earle Haley, Dwight Henry, Haley Joel Osment, Anika Noni Rose, and Brian “Birdman” Williams, among others.

A full list of the 2020 ABFF Online Edition Official Selections can be found on here.