The beloved film festival will return with a hybrid festival this June, with in-person events in Miami Beach and films streaming on ABFF Play.
American Black Film Festival is almost here. The popular film festival once again returns to Miami Beach, Florida, this June, and theGrio caught up with official festival ambassador Lena Waithe as well as ABFF president Nicole Friday.
As theGrio previously reported, ABFF will once again hit Miami Beach this June, once again presenting a festival dedicated to “recognizing Black talent and showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent.” Waithe was recently announced as this year’s official ambassador and will join festivalgoers and filmmakers at the event next month.
Nicole Friday, Lena Waithe, and Jeff Friday attend the American Black Film Festival Honors Awards Ceremony at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Feb. 23, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
“I was honored to be asked,” Waithe shared with us, calling It an “easy” yes. “We are just very much aligned in terms of amplifying and shedding a light on voices that oftentimes don’t get that light and don’t feel that celebrated or as seen. It feels very much in line with what I am about.”
“It’s also exciting to come and see the different movies and TV shows because these are people that I love,” she added. “It will feel like a family reunion! I’m excited to be there and remind people that these voices matter so that we can have more of them.”
For Friday, she is excited to once again bring the festival back to Miami, after successfully “relaunching” the festival in person last year after the COVID-19 pandemic prevented an in-person gathering in 2020 and 2021. “When the pandemic happened obviously we all had to take a step back and figure out how to continue to move forward,” Friday said when reflecting on the creation of ABFF Play, a digital platform born out of the pandemic.
Now, the festival is a hybrid one, complete with a live event in Miami as well as a virtual one on ABFF Play. “We don’t want to then not be able to reach those around the globe who don’t have the means or for whatever reason can’t make it to the festival in Miami. Professionally for us, that is something that came out of the pandemic: the ability to have a hybrid festival, which we continue to do.”
Lena Waithe attends the Launch & Screening Event for Disney’s “Chang Can Dunk” at Walt Disney Studios on March 6, 2023, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Disney)
Friday went on to share her excitement toward Waithe’s involvement, calling her a champion for young talent. “Synergistically it made sense for her to be our ambassador this year,” she said. “We just align on so many levels.”
Waithe also spoke to the ever-changing nature of the industry, and how important digital platforms are in this day and age. “You want as many eyeballs as possible seeing your work,” she explained. “I think it’s so great to expand your audience and I think we’ve even seen that in being able to Zoom in writers’ rooms. You don’t have to move to L.A. or New York to engage in a conversation or go to Miami to see the work!”
Teasing which projects she is most eager to see at the festival, Waithe gushed, “I’m looking forward to ‘They Cloned Tyrone.’ I always say, ‘I don’t have to be a part of something to be excited about it or promote it.’ And ‘I’m a Virgo.’”
ABFF will run June 14–18 in Miami Beach, with the virtual festival streaming June 19–25 on ABFF Play. For more on ABFF, head to the official site here.
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