American Black Film Festival 2024 Lineup Includes Vivica A. Fox and Jussie Smollett-Starring Drama (EXCLUSIVE)

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) has set its lineup of narrative and documentary features for its 28th edition, including Jussie Smollett’s return to acting in “The Lost Holliday,” filmmaker Christine Swanson’s latest drama “Albany Road” and the acclaimed Luther Vandross doc “Never Too Much.”

This year’s festival takes place June 12-16 in Miami Beach, Fla., followed by a virtual segment June 17-24 on ABFF PLAY. Winners of film festival competition will be announced on June 15, during the “Best of ABFF Awards” hosted by Emmy-nominee Dondré Whitfield.

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The 2024 narrative lineup includes “Albany Road,” directed and written by Swanson, starring Renée Elise Goldsberry, Lynn Whitfield and J. Alphonse Nicholson; “The Lost Holliday” directed by, co-written and starring Smollett alongside Vivica A. Fox, produced by Mona Scott-Young; “The Waterboyz,” directed by Coke Daniels and produced by Ben Crump, starring Akil McDowell, Alani “La La” Anthony and Quavo; and “Black Heat,” written and directed by Wes Miller, starring Jason Mitchell, Tabitha “Dreamdoll” Robinson and NLE Choppa.

Films in this competitive section — all feature-length projects directed by and/or written and produced by persons of African descent — are eligible to be nominated to compete for the festival’s Jury Awards, including best actor (a $2,500 cash prize presented by Ally Financial), best director (a $5,000 cash prize, presented by Cadillac) and best narrative feature (a $2,500 cash prize, presented by Walmart).

Swanson won ABFF’s best film prize in 2003 for “All About You,” which also starred Goldsberry, while Smollett’s directorial debut “B-Boy Blues” won the festival’s fan favorite award in 2021. That film was the controversial star’s first project since being found guilty of making false reports about what he alleged to be a hate crime, but he did not appear on camera. His last role was on “Empire.”

The documentary features category includes “King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones” directed by Harriet Marin Jones and produced by Quincy Jones and Debbie Allen; “Luther: Never Too Much” directed by Dawn Porter and produced by Jamie Foxx, which made a splashy debut at Sundance; and the sports profile documentary “Train: The Dick ‘Night Train’ Lane Story,” directed by Eric “Ptah” Herbert.

“The 2024 American Black Film Festival is back to continue the celebration of both artists and attendees through our robust presentation of diverse filmmaking that spotlights Black culture,” said Nice Crowd president Nicole Friday in a statement announcing the lineup, which features filmmakers from across the African Diaspora, including the U.S., Nigeria, France and Canada. “We are excited to return to Miami and invite all to come take part in a momentous week of highlighting emerging filmmakers and bringing a wide-range of empowering stories to our community.”

The full lineup of narrative and documentary features is below:

NARRATIVE FEATURES (U.S. & International)

Albany Road
On her way to the most important meeting of her career, severe weather forces a New York executive to share a rental car with her former nemesis, her ex-fiancé’s mother, only to discover that the mother is hiding a major secret.
USA | 135 min
Director: Christine Swanson
Writer: Christine Swanson
Producer: Michael Swanson
Cast: Renée Elise Goldsberry, Lynn Whitfield, J. Alphonse Nicholson, Lisa Arrindell, Gary Dourdan, Joe Holt, Rachel Nicks

Black Heat” (World Premiere)
One night, two parents, out of options, infiltrate a top-level dealer and pimp’s apartment complex to rescue their teenage daughter.
USA | 93 min
Director: Wes Miller
Writer: Wes Miller
Producer: Andrew van den Houte, Wes Miller
Cast: Jason Mitchell, Tabatha “DreamDoll” Robinson, NLE Choppa

Body of Water” (U.S. Premiere)
Sometimes you have to take justice into your own hands.
USA | 103 min
Director: Terrisha Kearse
Writer: Steve Fauquier, David Wendell Boykins, Terrisha Kearse, Mico Ramos
Producer: Tara Carbajal, Terrisha Kearse, Keita Don Azu, Seven Bailey, Amber Bolden
Cast: David Wendell Boykins, Dallas Schaefer, Kiya Roberts, Derek S. Orr, Kimberly Bailey

Drip Like Coffee” (World Premiere)
An unexpected romance evolves between two Brooklyn baristas, Kali, an aspiring coffee professional, and Mel, a budding photographer.
USA | 86 min
Director: Anaiis Cisco
Writer: Anaiis Cisco
Producer: Anaiis Cisco, Ryan Rivard, Mary Pena, Kathryn Boyd-Batstone
Cast: Iman Artwell Freeman, Kashanie Lagrotta Butler, Ralphy Lopez

Freedom Hair
Based on the inspiring, true story of Melony Armstrong, a mother who works at a shelter for battered women decides to start a hair braiding business and must overcome obstacles imposed by a powerful cartel and the state of Mississippi.
USA | 99 min
Director: Dianne Houston
Writer: Dianne Houston
Producer: Stacey Parks, Lana Link, Rob Pfaltzgraff
Cast: Simona Brown, Jeremie Harris, Sophia Bush, and Erica Taze

He Looked Like A Postcard” (World Premiere)
A poet balancing single motherhood returns to her hometown to rebuild her life and finds love and so much more after receiving a magical postcard under her door.
USA | 97 min
Director: Qasim Basir
Writer: jessica Care moore
Producer: jessica Care moore, Lasana Hotep, Gingi Rochelle
Cast: jessica Care moore, Tobias Truvillion, Jaden Anthony Moore, Nicci Gilbert, Donnell Rawlings, Omar Regan

Peripheral” (World Premiere)
A woman’s husband goes missing soon after moving into their new home, but strange and paranormal events start to occur upon his return.
USA | 88 min
Director: Sulayman Tahir
Writer: Sulayman Tahir, Jordan Tortorello
Producer: Jordan Tortorello, Dallas Hart, Chris Tortorello
Cast: Andria B. Langston, Patrick Walker, Patricia Mizen, D’Kia Anderson, Sami Tortorello

Swoon” (World Premiere)
A woman wakes tied to a bed, and her captor tries to manipulate her into believing they are a couple.
USA | 83 min
Director: Byron Manuel
Writer: Byron Manuel
Producer: Byron Manuel, Ryan Rojas, JP Ouellette, Cash Oliver, Franco Tavera, George Wriighster, Cameron Duncan, Lily Terrazas, Raul Terrazas, Kassandra Lee Diaz, Rich Morrow.
Cast: Kassandra Lee Diaz, DeRon Cash, Rich Morrow, Efrangeliz Medina, Dean Wil, Herbert Morales, Del Harrison.

The Final Play” (U.S. Premiere)
A retired pro basketball player seeks true love and a new beginning, but past traumas threaten his happiness.
USA | 108 min
Director: Tailiah Breon
Writer: Jeremy Pargo, Barshea Lowery
Producer: Jeremy Pargo, Valentina Barton, Tailiah Breon, Ernestine Morrison Johnson
Cast: Jeremy Pargo, Hazel Renee, Jerod Haynes, Navv Greene, Vanessa D. Fant, Brea Joy

The Lost Holliday“ (World Premiere)
After losing her estranged son, Cassandra must deal with grief and guilt while getting to know her son’s daughter and husband, who she knew nothing about.
USA | 96 min
Director: Jussie Smollett
Writer: Jerrell Chesney & Jussie Smollett
Producer: Jussie Smollett, Mona Scott-Young, Tressa Smallwood, Tom Wilson, Joe “Jody” Williams, Janet Smollett, Eddie Mac, Stephanie Gayle, Jerrell Chesney, Anthony Smallwood, Sheila Legette and Vivica A. Fox
Cast: Vivica A. Fox, Jussie Smollett, Jabari Redd, Marquise Vilsón, Brittany S. Hall, Miriam A. Hyman, Londyn Carter, Memphis Cade, Gina Belafonte, Leslie D. Baker

The Odds” (World Premiere)
A young man stumbles into good fortune but it attracts the wrong attention.
Nigeria | 93 min
Director: Kewa Oni
Writer: Kewa Oni
Producer: Seun Opabisi, Sean McNichol, Phiona Okunmu, Tunji Jamiu Shoyode
Cast: Molawa Davies, Osita Iheme, Gbemi Akinlade, Kelechi Udegbe

The Waterboyz” (World Premiere)
In the streets of ATL, two young men cross paths, one trying to make a legit living, the other trying to create mayhem and rule the streets.
USA | 89 min
Director: Coke Daniels
Writer: Coke Daniels
Producer: Coke Daniels, Errol Sadler, Dolapo Erinkitola, Cameron S Mitchell, Brian Sher, Coach K, Pee Thomas, Ben Crump, Tirrell D Whitley.
Cast: Akil McDowell, Alani “La La” Anthony, Quavo, Omar Dorsey, Rockmond Dunbar

Young King” (World Premiere)
As Diondre Howell re-adjusts to civilian life and struggles to cope with the scars of the Iraq war, he increasingly becomes a threat to those he cares about the most – his family.
USA | 94 min
Director: Bryant T. Griffin
Writer: Bryant T. Griffin
Producer: Selena Leoni
Cast: Vince Washington, Tarra Riggs, Kirby Griffin, Vaughn Wilkinson, James Arthur Sims


A Time to Yell: More Than A Statue” (World Premiere)
Former Charlottesville city council member Dr. Wes Bellamy’s impassioned activism reveals the tumultuous journey for racial justice sparked by the controversial removal of Confederate statues and leading to one of modern America’s most divisive conflicts.
USA | 63 min
Director: Eric W. Newman & Daniel B. Levin
Producer: Eric W. Newman, Daniel B. Levin & Daryl Davis
Cast: Dr. Wes Bellamy, Kristin Szakos, Eze Amos, Will Jones, Courtney Commander

Family Tree
In the American South, Black forest landowners fight to maintain their family legacy and create sustainable forests for generations to come.
USA | 97 min
Director: Jennifer MacArthur
Producer: Rupert Maconick
Cast: The Jefferies Family, the Williams Family, Sam Cook, Mavis Gragg, Alton Perry

It Takes A Village: An East Van Story” (U.S. Premiere)
The journey of two Ugandan brothers unfolds in East Vancouver highlighting the impact of community in empowering at-risk youth to triumph over adversity.
Canada | 79 min
Director: Christopher Cho
Producer: Jonathan Mubanda, Christopher Cho, Stephanie Watt-Mubanda, David Mubanda, Wolfgang Klassen
Cast: Jonathan Mubanda, David Mubanda, Theresa Campbell

King Of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones
A European filmmaker searches for the truth about her grandfather, the most famous Policy Kings of all times, who rose to the heights of financial and political prominence in Chicago in the ‘30s, despite discrimination.
France | 98 min
Director: Harriet Marin Jones
Producer: Harriet Marin Jones
Executive Producers: Quincy Jones, Debbie Allen
Cast: Quincy Jones, Nathan Thompson, Harriet Jones, Timuel Black

Luther: Never Too Much
Dawn Porter offers an in-depth look into the life and career of Luther Vandross as he overcomes personal and professional challenges to become one of the greatest vocalists of all time.
USA | 100 min
Director: Dawn Porter
Producer: Trish D Chetty, Ged Doherty, Jamie Foxx, Datari Turner, Leah Smith
Cast: Fonzi Thornton, Robin Clark, Carlos Alomar, Danyel Smith, Jon Platt, Ava Cherry, Seveda Williams, Nile Rodgers, Valerie Simpson, Marcus Miller, Nat Adderly Jr., Jamie Foxx, Lisa Fischer, Kevin Owens, Richard Marx, Clive Davis, Mariah Carey, Dionne Warwick, Max Szadek

Train: The Dick ‘Night Train’ Lane Story” (World Premiere)
Trace the remarkable rise of Dick Night Train Lane, from the concrete fields of the 1920s to Madden Football stardom, as he transforms from being discarded in a trash can to earning a place in the Football Hall of Fame.
USA | 133 min
Director: Eric “Ptah” Herbert
Producer: Carlos Mendez, Jennifer Karsting, Richard Lane Jr, Richard Walker, Eric “Ptah” Herbert, Mack Tompkins, Andre Mitchell, Devin Mitchell
Cast: Eric Dickerson, Ray Lewis, Warren Moon, Dick Lebeau, Rod Woodson, Dick Butkus, Leigh Steinberg, Ct Fletcher, Guy Torry, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, Henry Leverette

Who In The Hell Is Regina Jones?” (World Premiere)
Before Rolling Stone, there was Soul Newspaper. Behind Soul, there was Regina Jones. Against all odds, Regina blazed her own path, and at 80 has found herself again.
USA | 99 min
Director: Soraya Selene, Billy Miossi
Producer: Alissa Shapiro
Cast: Regina Jones, Matt Jones

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