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By Film Threat Staff | June 10, 2008

With 119 films and 6 days of deliberation, jury and audience choice award-winners were announced Sunday for the 2008 Hollywood Black Film Festival (HBFF). Actor-Director Rockmond Dunbar announced the winning films during the festivals invitation-only Filmmaker and Storyteller Awards brunch, held at Life on Wilshire. As a special surprise appearance, arranged by HBFF, producer Will Packer (“This Christmas,” “Stomp the Yard”) stopped by and conducted a Q&A with the invited filmmakers and award-winners.

“We are so pleased to be able to present awards to these filmmakers who have displayed an amazing array of cinematic talent and vision,” said Tanya Kersey, Founder & Executive Director, HBFF. “The 2008 Hollywood Black Film Festival award-winners reflect the full breadth of talent, diversity, and evolution of independent black film.”

“Our filmmakers this year displayed an extraordinary range and depth to their storytelling, and I am pleased to know that HBFF continues to garner a well deserved reputation as being the premiere festival for discovering and showcasing the next generation of talented Black filmmakers,” added Kersey. “We are thrilled how the Hollywood Black Film Festival has continued to grow in attendance, local and national awareness and acclaim from filmmakers, writers and directors.”

Leon Lozano’s feature film “Something is Killing Tate” took the top audience prize at the 9th Annual Hollywood Black Film Festival. “Something is Killing Tate” won the HBFF 2008 Audience Choice Award sponsored by Indieflix. In the film, Tate isolates himself in his apartment after surviving a suicide attempt. One by one, the players in his troubled life force him to face the demons of his past. Lozano won a cash prize courtesy of IndieFlix.

In the narrative feature film category, “Panman, Rhythm of the Palms,” directed by Sander Burger and produced by Ian Vatz, took top honors. “Panman, Rhythm of the Palms” tells the story of the rise and fall of the steel drum pan player Harry Daniel. Harry is an icon of the Caribbean whose personal life suffers when he places his music above his family.

“Streetballers,” written & directed by Matthew Krentz was the honorable mention.

The Short Film winner was “The Doll,” written & directed by Dante James. “The Doll” is set in the early 1900s and tells the story of Tom Taylor, the black proprietor of the Wyandot Hotel barbershop. Taylor’s humanity, his dignity, and his responsibility to family and community are severely challenged when it becomes apparent that he has an opportunity to avenge an injustice that was inflicted on his father decades earlier.

“Blood Over a Broken Pawn,” written & directed by Chadwick Boseman took the short film honorable mention.

Roxana Walker-Canton and Tina Morton’s documentary “Belly of the Basin” earned first place honors in the documentary category while “Keeping the Faith,” written and directed by Bobby Mardis was the honorable mention. “Belly of the Basin” asks New Orleans to tell its story through the voices of its ordinary residents. Through individual stories of survivors and volunteers of grassroots organizations, “Belly of the Basin” poses questions about the value of human life in relationship to race, class, gender and politics.

In the student film category, the award was presented to “Crenshaw Nights,” written by Greg Navarro and directed by Peter Gelles. “Keys,” written & directed by Christopher Babe, was the honorable mention.

“Obara & the Mechants” written by Michelle Bodden and directed by Manauvaskar Kublall won in the animation category. “Revolution,” written by Trevor Parham, directed by Aled Ordu & Stefan Ruenzel won in the music video category.

The filmmaker winners receive prizes courtesy of Apple Final Cut Pro, Backstage, Baseline, Daily Variety, Film Specific, Final Draft, Fuji Film, Hollywood Creative Directory, Indieflix, Showbiz Software, Story Pointe and Writers Boot Camp. In addition to product prizes and in keeping with the festival’s motto: “ACCESS. OPPORTUNITIES. DEALS.” The winners also receive a series of meetings with agents, managers, development, acquisition and distribution executives.

The 1st place winner in the HBFF Storyteller Competition was “The N***a” written by Derek Lively. In THE N***A, an out-of-work Shakespearean actor transforms into a gangsta rapper and becomes a star. 419 written by Michael Ajakwe took 2nd place honors. In 419, a third World Internet scammer tricks an unsuspecting, lonely White American male into falling in love with his Internet alter-ego – a beautiful Nigerian princess – and then convinces the dupe to bring her/him to the United States. 3rd place went to “Muddy Waters” written by Corey Moore. In “Muddy Waters,” A young, opportunistic land agent sets his sights on the biggest promotion of his career by attempting to score a lucrative deal with his estranged, alcoholic father. “Runnin from the Devil” written by Travolta Cooper earned the honorable mention.

The Storyteller Competition winners receive product prizes courtesy of Final Draft, Hollywood Creative Directory and Story Pointe and Writers Boot Camp. Their scripts are also distributed to a number of studios and production company executives. The HBFF Storyteller Competition was designed to promote and support new talent and continue the festival’s pledge of creating opportunities for talented black screenwriters. The main goal is to give new screenwriters industry exposure and help introduce them to Hollywood.

“The diverse storytelling styles of this year’s Storyteller Competition semi-finalists is impressive,” said Alexia Ryan, HBFF Storyteller Director. “We are pleased to be able to bring these talented, diverse voices to the attention of Hollywood’s leading talent buyers.”

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