The American Black Film Festival Short Film Competition finalists.
The American Black Film Festival Short Film Competition finalists.


What to Know About This Year’s Short Films


This year’s ABFF featured filmmakers presented commentaries on grief, race, cultural appropriation, mental illness and identity.


From hundreds of submissions, five short films are selected to screen at the 2018 American Black Film Festival. Coming-of-age tales, horror-comedies and visual eulogies — the filmmakers behind this year’s nominated shorts have created small but mighty narratives.

Days After Your Departure

Written by Joekenneth Museau
Directed by Sam Sneed
What it’s about: A spoken-word exploration of losing a parent, the visually sweeping short, filmed in Brooklyn and Haiti, offers a deeply personal perspective on grief.
From the filmmakers: “After losing my mom to cancer and seeing her go through that, I felt like my life unraveled. So much of my life was defined by my relationship with my mother and I was at a point where I had to now define myself while dealing with the collateral damage of grief. Writing was the way I found I could heal from it.” — Joekenneth Museau


Written by Kristen Davila
Directed by Carey Williams
What it’s about: When two young men of color come home to an emergency situation, they become conflicted about whether to call the authorities.
From the filmmaker: “For me when I first approached the film, I wanted to ground it in the relationship of the two friends. They both have a valid points of view: one optimistic, one pessimistic. What are these two friends thinking? And where will they potentially go after this night?” — Carey Williams

Read the full interview

Hair Wolf

Written and directed by Mariama Diallo
What it’s about: The staff of a black hair salon fends off a strange new monster: white women sucking the lifeblood from black culture.
From the filmmaker: “I was outside of my apartment building in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and I saw a box braid lying on the ground. I gazed upon it and said the word, ‘braid.’ My boyfriend misheard me and thought I said ‘brain.’ We started kidding around about zombies and hair and the joke didn’t stay there. So I made it into a short film.” — Mariama Diallo

Read the full interview

Moths & Butterflies (Winner)

Written and directed by Alfonso Johnson
What it’s about: After a chance encounter with a bubbly blast from the past, socially awkward Lenny tries to live a little. The only problem? Himself.
From the filmmaker: “The beginning of this idea started on my birthday in 2011 when a friend of mine committed suicide. You hear about it, but when it’s someone you know and they’re young... As the years developed, I wanted to know what’s going on that we’re not quite discussing.” — Alfonso Johnson

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Written by Rochée Jeffrey
Directed by Thembi Banks
What it’s about: Brandy, a high school tomboy, comes to terms with her sexuality when she decides what she’ll wear to prom.
From the filmmaker: “The film was inspired by Rochée. It was a very personal story for her so we wanted to make a film that talked about a lot of different issues: from toxic masculinity and gender roles to nonconforming individuals who present a certain way but inside, their feelings and desires are different than what people would expect. We need to tell more stories like this so people don’t judge a book by its cover.” — Thembi Banks

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Jay Ellis Is Ready for the Next Generation of Filmmakers

This year’s American Black Film Festival ambassador shares why he feels a personal connection to the annual event.