Film Life’s 16th Annual American Black Film Festival Announces Its Highly Anticipated Talk Series

                                                                 Lineup to Include Master Classes, Panels and Celebrity Conversations
                                                                                        Featuring Acclaimed Industry Experts and Talent

NEW YORK, June 14, 2012 – Film Life, Inc. is proud to announce its lineup of the acclaimed Talk Series to be held during the 16th annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in Miami, Florida, June 20 – 23. This year’s Talk Series will feature some of the most influential and creative industry leaders and talent.  Aspiring filmmakers will share new learning experiences and gain a better understanding of how to navigate the movie business. Highlights to include: various aspects of the film industry such as producing, cinematography, digital technology and the role of African-American women within the industry. The panels will take place at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach – 1 Lincoln Road, Salons 2 and 3.

Master Classes

“The $300,000 Feature: A Master Class in Line Producing,” led by Dianne Ashford of Symmetry Entertainment. Scheduled to take place June 20 at 1:30pm, this Master Class will outline a film producer’s core responsibilities (creative, executive and technical) through the phases of production and distribution.

“Camera Basics & Cinematography Master Class,” led by Charles Swanson, Associate Professor of Cinematography, Chair of the Production Department, School of Film and Television, Loyola Marymount University. Scheduled to take place June 21 at 9am, this Master Class will provide filmmakers with a basic education on entry-level digital cameras as well as more advanced digital capture cameras and formats.

Panel Discussions

“The Future of Black Entertainment: Using the Digital Space to Create Buzz and Distribute Content.” Taking place on June 21 at 1pm, this panel, sponsored by Nielsen and Black Enterprise magazine, will be moderated by Cindi Smith of Nielsen. Invited panelists are Monique Kelley of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, Nikkole Denson-Randolph of AMC Theatres, Barion Grant of and Issa Rae, creator and producer of the hit webisode series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.” The panelists will discuss recent blockbusters and the social buzz around them. There will be a focus on the increase in consumer-generated content on the web by producers of color and how they can monetize web content and cultivate success with major brands.

“Digital Technology Panel: Content Syndication 2012.” Taking place on June 21 at 4pm, this panel, sponsored by Grab Media and HuffPost Black Voices, will be moderated by Alvin Bowles, CEO of Grab Media. Special guests include: Russ Torres of Yahoo! News & Finance and Lateef Sarnor of AOL Huffington Post Media Group. The panelists will exchange ideas around the current syndication practices, the technology shifts and explore the marketing opportunities and how advertising content reaches new audiences.
“GMC Television Network Screenplay Competition Table Reading.” Taking place on June 22 at 3pm, this panel is sponsored by gmc Television Network. Three finalists have been selected and a scene from each of their screenplays will be read before the festival audience. One winner will be chosen to have their screenplay produced into a film and receive a $5,000 cash prize. Guests include, Tracey Heggins, actress, Stephen Trevor Hill, actor and ABFF 2012 Star Project winners, Robert Hunter and Sherial McKinney.

“Beyond the Barriers & Biases: Black Women in Hollywood.” Taking place on June 23 at 10:30am, this panel is sponsored by The Webber Group, in association with Daughters of Eve Productions. Moderated by Michele Prettyman Beverly, African American Cinema Scholar, the discussion will feature Twinkie Byrd, casting director and producer, Elizabeth Hunter, writer, Angi Bones, SVP of Development (BobbCat Films) and actors Malinda Williams and Tracey Heggins. The festival audience will be introduced to a lineup of women who have built diverse careers in film despite the odds. They will offer how they have successfully navigated their professional journeys beyond the barriers and biases.

Rounding out the panel discussions will be “HBO Presents…” Taking place on June 23 at 1pm, this panel, sponsored by HBO, will be moderated by Cori Murray, Entertainment Director of Essence Magazine, and will feature JB Smoove, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Nelsan Ellis, “True Blood,” Michael K. Williams, “Boardwalk Empire,” and Sufe Bradshaw, “Veep.” This panel will highlight the talents of the panelists as they talk about their backgrounds, acting careers and their very unique experiences working on an HBO series.

Celebrity Conversations

“A Conversation with Salim and Mara Brock-Akil,” sponsored by American Airlines, is a special festival event taking place on June 22 at 12:30pm. It will feature an in-depth interview with husband-wife team Salim and Mara Brock-Akil, whose joint credits include: hit TV shows “Girlfriends,” “The Game” and films “Jumping the Broom” and the upcoming “Sparkle.” Trina Robinson of NBC South Florida Today Show will facilitate the conversation.

******“ABFF Celebrates “Think Like A Man,” sponsored by Crown Royal Black, is another special festival event taking place on June 22 at 8:45pm. This unique presentation will feature an onstage interview with Will Packer, producer and Rob Hardy (executive producer), Tim Story (director) and cast members of the hit film, “Think Like A Man,” which has grossed over 90 million dollars at the box office. Moderated by radio host Malikha Malette.

“The Talk Series is one of the most substantive parts of the festival. Filmmakers and film enthusiasts join in conversations that allow for the exploration of many disciplines within the film industry,” states Jeff Friday, CEO of Film Life and ABFF founder. “Topics that are relevant to the business of film, like marketing and distribution as well as the creative component, such as writing and directing, are discussed in a very innovative and important way.”

The festival’s on-site registration center will open Wednesday, June 20 at 9am at Ritz Carlton-South Beach, located on the 2nd floor. A limited quantity of passes and tickets will be available for purchase on a first-come, first-serve basis.

*Panelists subject to change.

HBO (Founding and Premier Sponsor); Gold Peak Tea (Premier); gmc Television Network, American Airlines, Cadillac, CNN and Ciroc (Official Sponsors); Grab Media, NBCUniversal, Nickelodeon, smartwater, Nielsen, BET Networks, Stella Artois and Wells Fargo (Supporting Sponsors); The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Miami Beach Visitor & Convention Authority and Miami Community Redevelopment Agency (Host Sponsors) and SAGIndie, One Village Entertainment, Miami Film Month, thirdREEL, Huffpost Blackvoices and The Webber Group (Promotional Partners); Media Sponsors include: Black Enterprise, Uptown (Official Level); Jones Magazine and Precious Times (Supporting Level).

Established in 1997, the core mission of the ABFF is to promote cultural diversity within the motion picture industry. Through its film showcases and special contests, it annually introduces the top echelon of emerging artists to the film and television industry.

The ABFF is a property of Film Life, Inc., a New York-based event marketing, production and film distribution company founded in 2000 by Jeff Friday (CEO). For full details on this year’s festival, please visit

Connect with us:
Twitter: @ABFF
Follow the conversation on twitter at: #ABFF2012

For media inquiries, contact Lisa Sorensen at 646-330-5458 or



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