Will Smith Tennis Drama ‘King Richard’ to Open 2021 American Black Film Festival

King Richard (Credit: Warner Bros.)

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) will serve up tennis drama King Richard for the opening of this year’s festival, which runs from Nov. 3-28.

The Warner Bros. drama stars Will Smith in the title role as Richard Williams, the father and coach of Venus and Serena Williams.

“It is with pride and excitement that we mark our 25th year opening with Warner Bros.’ King Richard, a film that is a touchstone of ABFF’s legacy of showcasing extraordinary Black talent and inspiring storytelling reflecting the brilliance of diversity in Hollywood,” Nicole Friday, president and general manager of ABFF Ventures, said in a press release.

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The film follows Richard’s meticulous training and planning to help Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) rise from humble beginnings in Compton to become two of the world’s top tennis players.

The drama also stars Aunjanue Ellis, Tony Goldwyn and Jon Bernthal. Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men) directed the film from a script written by Zach Baylin.

Green is a previous finalist in HBO’s Short Film Competition at ABFF.

“Having King Richard at ABFF this year is truly a full circle moment,” said Green. “Back in 2013, my short film Stone Cars, that I made while studying at NYU screened in competition and was distributed on HBO — so opening up the festival for ABFF’s 25th anniversary means a lot to me. It’s an absolute honor to return this year with our film.”

The 2021 ABFF will be a virtual, global event with over 100 independent films from 35 countries, along with spotlight screenings, conversations and networking events featuring creators, artists and industry executives. The King Richard screening will be available by special invitation to a limited audience. Access to other portions of the festival is free. To register, visit https://abff.com.

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Smith’s Westbrook Studios produced King Richard along with Star Thrower Entertainment. Venus and Serena Williams are executive producers alongside their sister Isha Price. Additional executive producers are James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith, Adam Merims, Lynn Harris, Allan Mandelbaum, Jon Mone and Peter Dodd.

As previously reported, Warner Bros. beat out multiple studios to acquire the film.

King Richard arrives in U.S. theaters and on HBO Max on Nov. 19.