Monday, the last day of the 16th annual American Black Film Festival, was one filled with reward, recognition, and of course, “Raising Izzie.” The supercharged day began with a rewarding panel which featured some of Black Hollywood’s most noted female tastemakers who participated in a verbal walk thru of their journey navigating the film industry in “Beyond the Barriers & Biases – Black Women in Hollywood Panel.” The panel, moderated by African American Cinema Scholar Michele Prettyman Beverly and featured Twinkie Byrd, casting director and producer, Elizabeth Hunter, writer, Angi Bones, SVP of Development (BobbCat Films) and actors Malinda Williams and Tracey Heggins.
Up next, ABFF Sponsor, HBO, hosted a panel entitled “HBO Presents…” featuring some of the cable networks hottest black talent who are making waves this season on series such as “Veep,” “True Blood,” and many others. Actors Sufe Bradshaw, Adina Porter, Michael K. Williams, Nelsan Ellis, JB Smoove andEssence magazine’s Cori Murray were on hand to give perspective to attendee’s on the importance of diversity in the industry and how it strengthens the HBO experience. “The Winners Circle,” this year’s award presentation, opened out the top of the evening with a star studded red carpet event. “The Undershepherd,” an ABFF Official Selection, was the evenings big winner taking home awards for Outstanding Director (Russ Parr), Actor (Malinda Williams) and Narrative Feature. The film, written and directed by Russ Parr, stars Isaiah Washington, Malinda Williams and Louis Gossett Jr. Acceptance speeches at “The Winners Circle,” didn’t leave a dry eye in the audience as recipients shared their personal struggles and triumphs and illustrated how perseverance has been the backdrop to their success stories.