The festival opens with the documentary “CIVIL,” about the life of civil rights attorney Ben Crump. He is the civil lawyer for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Black farmers and banking while Black victims. The film is directed and produced by award-winning filmmaker Nadia Hallgren (“Becoming“, “After Maria”, “The Show”). Co-produced by Kenya Barris, Roger Ross Williams and Lauren Cioffi, the Netflix release of “CIVIL” will premiere on Juneteenth this year.
“We are thrilled to open the festival with ‘CIVIL’ a timely documentary bringing light to issues of social justice and equity in America,” said Nicole Friday, festival producer and president of ABFF Ventures LLC. “We’ve curated an entertaining and thought-provoking lineup of features, documentaries and web series and I am so excited to share our content with a live audience again.”
Issa Rae (“Insecure”) will serve as this year’s festival ambassador. The festival says that Rae will help bring media awareness to ABFF’s 26-year legacy of showcasing Black talent and discovering new voices. Along with joining festival founders, Jeff and Nicole Friday onstage for welcome remarks during opening night, Rae will screen her highly anticipated television series “RAP SH!T”, which she created for HBO Max as part of the festival’s Saturday night lineup. “I’m honored to be this year’s Festival Ambassador,” said Issa Rae. “ABFF was the first major festival to showcase my work and they continue to elevate Black creatives from the ground level. It’s also fun as hell.”
In his Founder’s Statement, Jeff Friday said: “When we began the ABFF with the mission to support artists and inspire creativity to strengthen the Black entertainment community and garner long overdue recognition from Hollywood, we never conceived that it would grow into a global celebration of Black culture, pride, achievement and power. It is an exciting time to be Black and talented in the entertainment business”
Other live spotlight screenings scheduled for this year include a sneak peak of Prime Video’s “A League of Their Own” starring Chanté Adams; Onyx Collective and ABC News Studio’s “Aftershock,” a film that explores America’s maternal health care crisis; A&E’s “Right to Offend: The Black Comedy Revolution,” an exploration documenting how Black comedians used laughter to push social boundaries and cultural change; a first look at The SpringHill Company’s “After Jackie” documentary from Emmy Award winning and Academy Award nominated filmmaker Stanley Nelson and critically-acclaimed director Andre Gaines premiering on the HISTORY Channel.