Film Life’s 18th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) announced the winners of their independent film awards in the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City on Sunday, June 22.
AlwaysAList.com attended the award ceremony with premier sponsor Cadillac and Jocelyn K. Allen, Director of General Motors Global Marketing Operations, presented a top prize alongside ABFF Celebrity Ambassador, Morris Chestnut.
Entrants into the festival compete in a variety of categories for prizes and recognition.
This year, the movie “CRU” had an epic year at ABFF, sweeping five out of its six categories and making it the most-decorated film in the festival’s history. “No film has ever won in this many categories,” a stunned Friday said during an impromptu speech at The Best of the ABFF Awards presentation.
The Alton Glass-directed film won in five categories including Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Grand Jury Award for Best Actor. It also tied with “Una Vida” for the ABFF Audience Award.
Underrated thespian Aunjanue Ellis (“Ray”/”The Help”) won the Grand Jury Award for Best Actress for her starring turn in “Una Vida.”
Actor Keith Robinson (“Dreamgirls”/”Get On Up”) took home Grand Jury Award for Best Actor for his work in “CRU.”
The film short “Muted” was the winner of the HBO Short Film Award. The Rachel Goldberg-directed, Brandi Ford-written/produced short starring Chandra Wilson (“Grey’s Anatomy”) won the grand prize of $10,000.
Christopher Brandt of Los Angeles won the Up Faith and Family Screenplay Competition for his feature film screenplay, “Island in the Sun.” His victory earned him $5,000.
Mike L. Brown’s movie “25 To Life” won for Best Documentary, while Ricky W. Jean-Francois and McKinson Souverain digital series “Close Friends” won the ABFF Webisode Challenge.
ABFF held its 18th annual festival in the Big Apple after previously being in Miami, Los Angeles and Acapulco, Mexico.
While festival founder Friday said the move was to give filmmakers and actors greater access to the industry executives that are based in New York City, logistically had major issues. With events, screenings and registration headquarters being scattered in various parts of Manhattan, there was no gathering place that centralized the festival like in previous cities.
Apparently, ABFF has signed on for at least another two years in New York.
PHOTOS: Check out these images from ABFF in New York City.