American Black Film Festival (ABFF). Image via

ABFF 2023: Festival Highlights

American Black Film Festival (ABFF). Image via

 I had the opportunity to attend the 27th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in South Beach, Miami, Florida. First and foremost, I must say that I am overwhelmed by the level of Black Excellence I witnessed, from star-studded red-carpet events to indie films. Founded in 1997, by Jeff Friday, ABFF is an annual festival that not only showcases the work of People of Color (POC) but amplifies the voices of artists by creating a safe space to share their work and network with executives, directors, producers, etc. For five days I attended talk-backs, screenings, and parties, talent showcases, and networked across the film community. Here are a few highlights from this year’s ABFF 2023. 

Opening Night Film Premiere: They Cloned Tyrone

The 27th Annual festival brought in the week with the anticipated premiere of the Netflix original  They Cloned Tyrone. This film stars Jamie Foxx, John Boyega, Teyonah Parris, and J. Alphonse Nicholson. The film investigates government conspiracies that insinuate the gov’t is cloning people of color through produce and most items consumed in urban neighborhoods. The trailer shows John Boyega’s character, Fontaine, noticing a cloned-like version of him walking down the street. He is injured and stumbling when suddenly a big black car swarms in a takes his doppelganger away.

After tracing the car back to an abandoned home, Fontaine, Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris), and Slick Charles (Jaime Foxx) notices a secret door. This door leads them to a research lab where Fontaine, in fact, finds a cloned version of him. This sets off a realm of events that leads to a “sort of” rebellion to destroy the research labs that have taken control of the community. This is the feature directorial debut of Juel Taylor. The film releases July 21, 2023, on Netflix. 

Shoot Your Shot: Sponsored by ALLBLK

Lance Gross and finalist winner Ashanti Harris. Image via

For the past year or two The streaming service known as ALLBLK partnered with ABFF to create a “Shoot Your Shot” segment. This event allows actors from all over the US to audition for a role in their selected film. Last year, ALLBLK sent out a search for their leading Man for Judge Lynn Toler’s film Judge Me Not. The top 5 finalists were invited to audition live for the Lead. This time around it was time to give the ladies a shot to audition for Omarion’s upcoming series regular entitled Envovled, an ALLBLK original.

This was a fun segment because you are able to see actors put in the work in real-time. You can see each actor’s approach to the character, which is all incredibly different. I know it had to be extremely difficult to act up close and personal with a live audience and hear the claps and applause given to their counterparts. Did I forget to mention the incredibly talented Lance Gross was their scene partner? He is just pure eye candy and the perfect partner! I can not wait until next year to see the winner Ashanti Harris in action.  

The Color Purple: 

Boy did we have a sweet treat! Social media went into a frenzy once The Color Purple released its first trailer for the 2023 Adaptation of The Color Purple. It was even more delightful to sit in front and watch some of the cast and director share their intake on the filming process as well as their personal reflection. Danielle Brooks, who plays Sophia, detailed her experience reprising the role after performing this very same role on Broadway. She emphasizes the level of effort, she even had to audition for the role a few times before receiving the part. In one interview she detail the diligence that went into her role, slightly injuring herself as well as highlighting the great support she received from Oprah and the crew.

Director Blitz Bazawule spoke about the importance of making this version their own and creating its own identity and style that is unique to them. That creates a different experience than the others. “You can’t run from what’s destined for you.” honest and powerful words were spoken by Taraji P. Henson when explaining her experience on set. She emphasizes the importance of a film of this collaboration as the “Shakespeare of our time” and how important it is for the culture. I am elated to witness the new bold take on The Color Purple watching talents such as Fantasia, Taraji P. Henson, Halle Bailey, Danielle Brooks, and more. 

The Perfect Find

The perfect summer love story is here! Something about this film feels nostalgic. The Perfect Find is a story centered around the high-profile fashionista, Jenna played by Gabrielle Union. After losing her job, she is encouraged to get her groove back and start over. Not too long into her new position she finds love. However, her new baux is her boss’s son Eric (Keith Powers), plot twist! Now Jenna is faced with the complexities of keeping a professional work environment while unintentionally falling in love. Is Jenna really willing to risk it all?

The Perfect Find film adaptation of the book entitled “The Perfect Find.” It is directed by Numa Perrier. The film also stars Gina Torres, La La Anthony, Aisha Hinds, Janet Hubert, D.B. Woodside, and more. The ABFF Red Carpet Premiere was hot once Gabrielle Union touch down. Gabrielle and Taraji The red carpet premiere at the ABFF sizzled with the beautiful and talented Taraji P. Henson.


Indie Spotlight

Out of all the festivities, celebrity appearances, and highly anticipated premieres; I was highly excited for the indie selection. It is essential as creators to network across and support those who are putting in the hard work; regardless of fame. This is part of the festival that fills my heart because there are so many amazing writers, actors, producers, and directors that take the time to create amazing work. It is completely impossible to catch every film within 5- fun packed days. This is where I give a tremendous shout-out to ABFF for their option to stream all indies, premieres and talk back online at I had a field day binging through, disregarding all responsibilities to watch as many films as possible. Here are a few that caught my eye. 


Jelly. Writer & Director: Anndi Jinelle Liggett. Image via


“After overhearing about the mysterious death of a neighbor, a young girl sets out to “solve the case” while coming to terms with a more personal mystery.”

Written & Directed By: Anndi Jinelle Liggett


Cinnamon. Written and Directed By:  Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr. Image via


Jodi Jackson, a gas station attendant, struggles and aspires to become a singer, but things start to get complicated when a robbery occurs at her work.”

Written and Directed By: Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr.





Being Alex. Written and Directed By: Christopher J. Love.

Being Alex

“A life-changing social revolution and a spiraling pandemic provide the backdrop for the fascinating self-discovery journey of an eccentric high school sophomore.”

Written and Directed By: Christopher J. Love



I Was A Soul Train Dancer. Written and Directed By: Timiza Sanyika. Image via

I Was a Soul Train Dancer

“I Was a Soul Train Dancer” is a mini-docs series that profiles some of the most recognizable and memorable soul train dancers from the 70’s 80’s and 90’s.” –

Written and Directed By: Timiza Sanyika



Burning RubberBurning Rubber. Directed By:  Chris Fequiere  and Written By: Dara King. Image via

“Duane Ruiz, who is out of alternatives and down on his luck, must decide between fulfilling his obligations and participating in the high-stakes Burning Rubber Wallball Tournament.”

Directed By:  Chris Fequiere  and Written By: Dara King



Bad Things Happen In Philadelphia. Directed By Kyra Knox. Image via

Bad Things Happen in Philadelphia

“Focuses on effects of gun violence on young men, women and mothers living in Philadelphia.” –

Directed By: Kyra Knox



Tik Tok Challenged. Written and Directed By: Ivan Rome. Image via IMDB.comTik Tok Challenged

“An elderly woman with Hollywood aspirations enlists the assistance of her grandson to become popular on TikTok.”

Written and Directed By: Ivan Rome



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