The American Black FiIm Festival 2023 in Miami was A Major Hit

27 Years of Highlighting Black Films and Filmmakers

They Cloned Tyrone” made its world premiere at ABFF featuring John Boyega and Teyonah Parris.
They Cloned Tyrone” made its world premiere at ABFF featuring John Boyega and Teyonah Parris. (Picture by Kelvin Bulluck/ABFF)

2023 makes 27 years of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF). Starting in 1997, the festival has been the spot for Black filmmakers to be seen, heard, and celebrated. ABFF returned to Miami from June 14-18, 2023. There will be a virtual program from June 19-25, 2023 on ABFF Play. 

This year also marks an expansion within the organization. ABFF Ventures, the entertainment company that puts on the festival led by CEO Jeff Friday and President Nicole Friday, has rebranded into Nice Crowd. Don’t worry the festival itself will still be called ABFF. 

Nice Crowd will expand to include comedy, health & wellness, food, and fine art-focused events.

“While we proudly reflect on this festival and the company’s many accomplishments over the years, we look forward to an even brighter future, with even more incredible event offerings, as Nice Crowd.”

– The Fridays

Netflix’s “They Cloned Tyrone” made its world premiere at ABFF during the opening night. It stars John Boyega, Teyonah Parris, and Jamie Foxx, and was directed by Juel Taylor.  

Emmy-winning writer, actor, and producer Lena Waithe was the 2023 ABFF festival ambassador.

Quick Highlights of Screenings and Panels

Many screenings were held throughout the five days, including a behind-the-scenes look at the latest version of “The Color Purple”, a showing of the horror and comedy film “Blackening”, and a screening of the rom-com “The Perfect Find” featuring Gabrielle Union and more.

There were panels throughout the festival that inspired anyone who attended, including “Your Mental Health: Why It Matters More Than Ever” with Taraji P. Henson, and “Writers (Un)Blocked: Black Women” featuring the writers of Netflix’s “From Scratch”.

The ABFF White Party Returns

The Legendary ABFF White Party featuring New Crowd CEO Jeff Friday and Terrance J.
The Legendary ABFF White Party featuring New Crowd CEO Jeff Friday and Terrance J. (Picture by Aaron J. Thornton/ABFF)

After two years of not hosting ABFF’s legendary White Party, it returned on opening night. Celebrities and festival goers linked up at Miami club M2 to enjoy a night of dancing and connecting with one another. There were special appearances by some of the celebrity panelists including Terrance J., Tabitha Brown, Omarion, and Romeo. 

26th Annual HBO Short ABFF Short Film Award Showcase 

The award show sponsored by HBO and Warner Bros. Discovery selected five finalists to present their films during a special showcase, hosted by Bevy Smith with a $10,000 cash prize.

The best series award went to Timiza Sanyika’s “I Was a Soul Train Dancer,” a mini-docs series that profiles “Soul Train” dancers from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. 

The full list of 2023 ABFF jury winners are:

Best of ABFF 2023 Awards.
Best of ABFF 2023 Awards.(Picture by Aaron J. Thornton/ABFF)

HBO Short Film Award showcased by Warner Bros. Discovery and HBO: “Jelly,” written and directed by Anndi Jinelle Liggett

Best Director presented by Cadillac: Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr. “Cinnamon” and Ogo Okpue “A Song from the Dark”

Best Series, Television or Web presented by Comcast NBCU Universal’s Black Experience on XFINITY: “I Was a Soul Train Dancer,” written, directed & produced by Timza Sanyika

Best Documentary Feature: “Locked Out,” directed by Kate Davis and Luchina Fisher

Best Actor presented by Ally: Vanessa Vanderpuye in “A Song from the Dark”

Best Narrative Feature presented by Andscape: “Cinnamon,” written and directed by Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr.

ABFF podcast competition: Archie Jay – “Archie: The Podcast,” Ken Lewis – “Gangsta Island” and Sophia Stephens – “The Maiden Myth

Community Day

To end the festival, ABFF hosted a Community Day at The Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater where local Miami residents were invited to watch two new episodes from Season 2 of “Rap Sh!T followed by a Q&A with Issa Rae, who created and produced the show through her production company Hoorae Media with Syreeta Singleton.

According to the  ABFF Team, the goal of Community Day is to give back to the city of Miami for their continued support of the festival. 

The event ended with a screening of “Young Love”, which was also followed by a Q&A with director Matthew A. Cheery

What’s Next?

From September 1-3, 2023, ABFF will host its ABFF Global Film Seris in London.

This international screening series will promote the worldwide appeal of Black content while providing a space for collaboration between artists throughout the African Diaspora. Each year, the series visits a major cultural hub around the world. The 2023 event, in partnership with S.O.U.L Fest, will take place at the British Film Institute in the UK.

The first new event under the Nice Crowd banner will be Because They’re Funny (BTF), a new comedy festival showcasing comedic talent within Black and POC communities. BTF will launch in Washington, D.C. in October 2023.


ABFF is a space for Black people in the industry to come to and feel safe. Each year, actors, producers, media, and film lovers celebrate Black excellence in film and TV. 

Even with the frequent rain showers, smiles could be seen on everyone’s faces.

Learn More

To learn more about ABFF, click here.

Nyesha Stone founded Carvd N Stone in 2017 to cover positive news while attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Stone has a B.A. in Journalism. She has raised over $30,000 to award grants and scholarships. She has also been featured in ESSENCE and worked with the American Black Film Festival.

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