American Black Film Festival 2019Image Credit: Jemal Countess
American Black Film Festival 2019Image Credit: Jemal Countess

2019 AMERICAN BLACK FILM FESTIVAL

What to Know About This Year’s Short Films

By Fiona Shea

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) celebrated its 23rd annual event in Miami, Florida, reinforcing its commitment to identifying and cultivating the next generation of storytellers. HBO, a presenting sponsor of the festival since its inception in 1997, has been dedicated to furthering ABFF’s mission to empower Black artists and showcase quality film and television content. This year’s event marked the collaborative participation of WarnerMedia, which along with parent company AT&T, Warner Bros. and truTV, served as supporting sponsors.

As part of this year’s Short Film Competition, emerging writers and directors presented narratives that ranged from wrenching tragedy to subversive comedy and inspiring exploration. Here’s what you need to know about the shorts before they’re available to stream on HBO next year.

Cap

Written and directed by Marshall Tyler

What it’s about: The Bennetts face a complicated situation when their 15-year-old son unexpectedly brings home a $300 fitted cap.

From the filmmaker: “It’s about a young boy, wanting to be cool, wanting to feel like he’s a part of something and has ownership over something that costs a lot of money. It plays on the idea around consumerism within the Black community.”

Wednesday

Written by Jessica D. Shields

Directed by Daniel Willis

What it’s about: Homeless and living in a car with her mother, a teenage girl commits a reckless act of rebellion to salvage a fragment of their former life.   

From the filmmakers: “I try and center narratives about Black women, women of color, in every story I’m telling. Wednesday is not a film about issues that specifically affect or only affect the Black community, but about a Black family going through something that a lot of people are going through. It’s important to see the everyday stories of people of color.”

Fisherman

Written and directed by Zoe Martinson

What it’s about: An aging fisherman ventures out to sea and returns with a talking fish. This Ghanaian comedy, set against the backdrop of a country in transition, explores feeling lost in a new world in one’s later years.

From the filmmakers: “It speaks to the human experience of aging, wanting to stay relevant and feeling like your life is meaningful while new technology creeps in and forces you to look back.”

Evelyn x Evelyn

Written and directed by Eric Pumphrey

What it’s about: Set in 1956, an African American couple struggles with the untimely death of their child.

From the filmmakers: “When you watch pre-Civil Rights works, it’s usually about external forces against the Black community. I was interested in telling stories about the internal struggle because that’s an experience that doesn’t often make it to screen.”

Flight

Written by Kia Moses

Codirected by Kia Moses and Adria McDonald

What it’s about: Kemar, an inner-city youth from Kingston, Jamaica, dreams of flying to the moon. Flight explores what fuels dreams, what stands in the way of them and their ability to transport us outside of ourselves.

From the filmmakers: “We wanted to show how things could be and inspire Black youth around the world to dream big and shoot for the moon. We also wanted a positive portrayal of Black fathers. Unfortunately a lot of what surrounds them is a story of violence but we wanted to tell another story. It’s important to tell another story.”

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