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The American Black Film Festival Turns 26, Here's Six Iconic Moments Over the Years

The American Black Film Festival is gearing up to celebrate its 26th year of bringing to light Black stories for all of Hollywood to see. "Because Hollywouldn't" founder Jeff Friday, created a festival that set out to bring out Black Hollywood so they could meet, network, collaborate and celebrate Black cinema.

Throughout the years, the festival has become known to help launch the careers of many of our favorite actors, directors, writers and producers. Along the way, they have been able to assemble an advisory board that includes Hollywood titans such as Will Packer, DeVon Franklin and Robert Townsend.

Now celebrating the 26th year of the festival this June, the event has grown to include many studio partnerships and a production company through ABFF Ventures. This year, ABFF is back in-person after the pandemic caused them to make a pivot for their 25th celebration last year.

We are celebrating ABFF's 26th anniversary by reliving six iconic moments that happened throughout the years.

1. The Inaugural ABFF in 1997

At the first ABFF founded by Jeff Friday in 1997, some ninety attendees convened in Acapulco. Many prominent artists attended. The mission was to create a nexus of Black creatives to encourage, uplift, and celebrate one another and bring Black filmmakers to the attention of the film industry at large. Twenty-six years later, ABFF has grown into a global celebration of Black culture gathering movie enthusiasts, filmmakers, and artists from around the world.

2. Halle Berry Receives Rising Star Award

In 1997, Oscar-winning actress and director Halle Berry receives ABFF’s first Rising Star Award. In 2021, Berry returned to ABFF to serve as Festival Ambassador.

3. Denzel Washington Attends ABFF

Denzel Washington's first appearance at ABFF in 1998. The Oscar-winning actor continues to be a champion and supporter of ABFF.

4. Morgan Freeman Attends ABFF

Actor Morgan Freeman is greeted by the local youth at a theater in Acapulco in 1998. This was Freeman’s second ABFF.

5. Black Panther Premieres at ABFF

Director Ryan Coogler’s return to ABFF in 2018 with the premiere of the global blockbuster Black Panther. Coogler is a winner of ABFF’s HBO Short Film Award in 2011.

6. ABFF Establishes the John Singleton Award

The establishment of the John Singleton Award was named after the director and founding member of the ABFF Advisory Board in 2019. The first award was presented at ABFF by his daughter, Justice Singleton.

The American Black Film Festival kicks off June 15 in Miami Beach. Get your tickets here.

Photo Credit: American Black Film Festival


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