The 14th annual American Black Film Festival wrapped up Sunday, with a community showing of its centerpiece film, “Stomp the Yard: Homecoming.”
The festival drew more than 3,000 participants to Miami, Florida, for four days of workshops, panel discussions and movie screenings.
Aspiring writers, directors, producers, actors and others flocked from across the United States and overseas for the opportunity to share their work and network with some of Hollywood’s elite.
Celebrated director Spike Lee taught a master class on filmmaking and offered a sneak peak of his latest project, the documentary “If God Is Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise,” a follow-up to his acclaimed film “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts” about the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast.
Despite his schedule, Lee said he returns to support the festival whenever he can.
“It’s always reinvigorating to see new talent,” Lee said of the festival. “I was where they are many, many, many years ago.”
Lee’s new film will be shown on HBO, which has been sponsoring the film festival since the beginning. Time Warner, HBO’s parent company, also owns CNN.
Festival founder Jeff Friday declared the event a success and said it has grown from humble beginnings when it was known as the Acapulco Black Film Festival.
“We are seeing so many talented men and women who are drawn here year after year, and the films this year are incredibly diverse,” he said. “This has become the premier film festival for black artists and filmmakers.”
Producers Will Packer and Rob Hardy are two such individuals who have made the festival an annual destination. Their company, Rainforest Films, was well-represented as their film “Takers,” starring festival ambassador Idris Elba, opened the event, while another project, “Stomp the Yard: Homecoming,” closed it.