Film Festival Season 2012

Tis’ the season for all film lovers to rejoice! For the independent filmmaker, the festival circuit is a main artery of visibility, the opportunity to have their films seen by industry insiders and select audiences.  The prospect to shop a film in these settings is invaluable.  Further, to rub shoulders with like-minded artists is a priceless brain trust.  Too, there are financial rewards for those whose projects are chosen from competitive pools.  A struggling filmmaker’s world can change overnight given a lucky break on the festival circuit.  Moreover, filmmakers benefit from word-of-mouth exposure and support.  Thus, if you see a film during one of the festivals that strikes your fancy, take to the blogosphere, Facebook, Twitter and other portals to share your opinion.  It will be appreciated, particularly if you find the films entertaining.

Presently, a number of festivals are in play across the country and abroad.  We have highlights from several:

                                             Stephanie Allain and David Ansen

Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF) runs June 14 to 24.  Now in its eighteenth year, the Los Angeles Film Festival is recognized as a showcase for new American and international cinema and providing the public with access to critically acclaimed filmmakers, film industry professionals, and emerging talent from around the world.   Stephanie Allain (Hustle & Flow), producer/film executive is director of the Los Angeles Film Festival; David Ansen is Artistic Director.

LAFF features signature programs including the Filmmaker Retreat, Poolside Chats, Coffee Talks, Music Events and more.  Additionally, the Festival screens short films created by high school students and has a special section devoted to music videos.

Over 200 features, shorts, and music videos, representing more than 30 countries, make up the main body of the Festival.

Enticing to most, the Festival hosts juried cash awards for best narrative and documentary features, best narrative, documentary and animated short film, and a jury award for best performance in the narrative competition. Audience awards are also presented to best documentary, narrative and international feature, short film and music video.

LAFF hands out unrestricted cash awards that are given in the following categories: Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature ($15,000), Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature ($15,000), Best Animated or Experimental Short ($5,000), Best Documentary Short ($5,000) and Best Narrative Short ($5,000).

LAFF’s jury also hands out an award for Best Outstanding Performance in a Narrative Feature. The Audience Awards, which are chosen based on ballots submitted by Festival audiences, are presented in the following categories: Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, International Feature, Short Film and Music Video. The Los Angeles Film Festival is a qualifying festival in all categories for the Film Independent Spirit Awards and for the Narrative and Animated Short Film categories at the Academy Awards.

The competition and audience award winners, presented by special guest hosts, will be announced Sunday, June 24.

More information can be found at

Jeff Friday

American Black Film Festival (ABFF) runs June 20 to 23. The 16th Annual American Black Film Festival kicked off in Miami Beach, FL.  Known as Black Cinema’s Annual Retreat, Jeff Friday, ABFF’s, Founder, named actress Tracee Ellis Ross as this year’s festival Ambassador.  Other highlights: Beasts of The Southern Wild opened the festival, A Conversation with Salim & Mara Brock Akil, ABFF Celebrates “Think Like A Man,  Black Women in Hollywood Panel, HBO  Short Film Competition, and the screening of Raising Izzie will close the festival.  This year, the festival will also feature its first ever Webisode challenge. Additional platforms:

    • Master Classes on: In Line Producing, Cinematography and Camera Basics
    • Premiere of the 2012 Pro Hollywood Boot Camp Film
    • Pro Hollywood Boot Camp 2012-The premiere of two films produced by current and retired NFL players during this year’s Boot Camp at Universal Studios
    • Black Women in Hollywood Panel featuring Actresses, Casting Directors and Producers. Discussion on topics relevant to black women working in Hollywood.
    • “ABFF Winners Circle” on the final evening of the festival to announce winners; actor Mekhi Phifer is the Grand Jury president who will present awards.
    • HBO Short Film competition


Once upon a time in a faraway land, Hollywood executives and artists at the forefront of Black image making gathered in the hills of Acapulco, magically creating what is now known as one of the “premier film festivals in the world – the ABFF.”

Five years later, the festival set up a new home in Miami Beach making it more accessible to all. Now each summer more than 5,000 movie lovers unite for four inspiring days filled with premieres, master classes, panels, exclusive parties, contests and awards facilitating collaboration, education and deal making.

Sixteen years and counting, 700 films and 30,000 alumni later, the ABFF is the place where careers are born, where we leverage our collective voice and resources to empower our community…so film fans and filmmakers can live happily ever after.

For full festival schedule please visit:

Tanya Kersey is Director of Hollywood Black Film Festival

Hollywood Black Film Festival (HBFF) is currently accepting submissions for the 2012 festival, to be held October 25-28, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA. Regular submissions will be accepted from June 18 through August 6. The late deadline is August 17.

HBFF welcomes narrative features, shorts, student and documentary films for its competitive program. Animation films and music videos submitted are accepted for the non-competitive program only.  This year HBFF is pleased to announce a new category for Web Series. Feature-length scripts are also accepted for the separate HBFF Storyteller Competition.

For FAQS about submitting your film or script, please visit:

All films submitted must have been completed after September 1, 2011.

HBFF accepts film submissions from all filmmakers; however, to be eligible for the festival’s competitive program, one of the film’s creative principals, i.e. the writer, director or producer must be Black or of African heritage. All other films will be considered for our invitational program. Please notify the festival in your application if your submission does not meet the requirements for the competitive program and you wish to be considered for the invitational program.

Narrative feature films should be at least 60 minutes in length; short films should be 30 minutes in length or less; and student films must have been completed while the filmmaker was enrolled as a full or part-time student in a college or university.  Web series content creators must submit at least 3 episodes, in ALL genres, less than 20 minutes in length each.

Film and script entries are accepted exclusively through Withoutabox.  To submit your film and/or script, go to >>

For more information on HBFF visit the website at  Like HBFF on Facebook at  Follow HBFF on Twitter at

Actor/Filmmaker Robert Townsend

San Francisco Black Film Festival (SFBFF) ran June 17 to 19.  Festival highlights included “In The Hive,” directed by Robert Townsend, a universal story of the triumph of the underdog when just one person decides there is a better way and that the weakest among us is noble and has great worth starring Loretta Devine and Michael Clarke Duncan

Former De Young Museum Fellow Kevin Epps’ “FAM BAM” examines the Black family structure and its resilience in “Straight Outta Hunters Point 2,” a follow up to his acclaimed documentary. Jacquie Taliaferro’s “10-10 Gotta Win” showcases the importance of voting, and JR Valrey’s “Block Reportin’ 101” gives the 411 on the Block Report brand of journalism and how it serves people and communities that are often denied outlets elsewhere.

“Fambul Tok” (“Family Talk”) chronicles Sierra Leoneans drawing on ancient traditions of addressing issues within the safety of the family circle to make their communities whole again. “Elza” by Marriette Monpierre is the dramatic tale of a young Parisian woman of Caribbean descent who returns to her native island of Guadeloupe looking for the father she has never known.

For information on future events, go to


Additional 2012 Film Festival links:






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