The Hollywood Black Film Festival, presented by Black Talent News, celebrated its third year with a five-day series of films and special presentations in Culver City on January 31 to February 4. The premier competitive showcase for black films, the HBFF screened a total of 45 films, ranging from shorts to dramatic and documentary features, by professional and student filmmakers. ^ In addition to providing an outlet for a number of films made by and featuring African-American talent, the festival also presented its annual Infotainment Conference, a series of discussion panels, conferences, and workshops with motion industry professionals for aspiring filmmakers. The highlights of the conference were roundtables with screenwriter Tina Andrews; director George Tillman Jr.; and Marlon Jackson, Alvin James, Cecil G. Fielder, and Willie Gary, founders of the African-American owned and operated cable network MBC. ^ Bookending the festivities were a pair of non-competing Los Angeles premieres, opening night selection “The Caveman’s Valentine,” the sophomore effort from “Eve’s Bayou” director Kasi Lemmons; and the prison drama “Lockdown,” which rounded out the festival the evening of February 4 following the festival’s awards ceremony.
HBFF AWARD WINNERS ^ Nearly $55,000 worth of prizes were handed out on February 4 at the Hollywood Black Film Festival’s 2001 awards ceremony. Hosts Anthony Anderson and Kelitta Smith, co-stars of the upcoming Fox Searchlight release “Kingdom Come,” presented the festival’s top jury honors to “Chikin Biznis,” a comedy from South African director Mtutuzeli Matshoba, in the feature category; and director Erma Elzy-Jones’ two-character drama “Room 302,” in the shorts competition. Honorable mentions went to Adisa Clyde’s urban drama feature “All or Nothing” and “The Cheater,” writer-director Jena Starke’s short about a two-timing man. Audience tastes slanted differently as Jerry LaMothe’s romance “Amour Infinity” earned the Audience Choice Award, sponsored by Courvoisier. ^ On the non-fiction end, Nicole Franklin’s tribute to double-dutch jump rope, “I Was Made to Love Her,” garnered the jury prize for Best Documentary, with honorable mention going to the Mumia Abu-Jamal biography “Voice of the Voiceless,” directed by Tania Cuevas-Martinez. ^ Select student filmmakers were also honored for their efforts. Booker T. Matison earned the jury prize for Best Student Film for his Great Depression-set drama “The Gilded Six Bits.” Honorable mention was shared by Devon Greggory, writer-director of short drama “Forgive Me”; and Leigh Dana Jackson, writer-director of “The Big Headache,” which centers on a man under an unusual amountof stress. ^ The HBFF also honored as yet unfilmed works by screenwriters in its Storytellers competition. Taking the top prize out of a field of five finalists–all of whom were women–was Yvette Freeman, for her drama script “The Dream.” ^ In addition to assorted supplies, resources, and grants given by sponsors are Film Intelligence Agency, Ifilm, Carolina Pinnacle Studios, Eastman Kodak Company, Action N Cut, Screenplay Systems, Pro 8mm, Dr. Rawstock, Christy’s Post, LA Film School, and Panavision, winners also received meetings with various Hollywood studios and production companies, including 20th Century Fox.
HBFF REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS
ALL OR NOTHING * * ^ Flawless (Tyrone Gibson) wants to become a big-time rapper, but those larger-than-life dreams don’t put money on the table for live-in girlfriend (Christine Carlo) and their infant son… Get the review>>>
AMOUR INFINITY * * * ½ ^ Derek (Jerry LaMothe, who also wrote and directed) can’t seem to catch a break… Get the review>>>
CHIKIN BIZNIS * * * ^ It is not very difficult to see why this South African import won the festival’s jury prize. From its buoyant opening title sequence (featuring a number of lavishly costumed child dancers carrying small chalkboards on which the credits are written) on, Mtutuzeli Matshoba’s comedy is undeniably likable… Get the review>>>
LOCKDOWN * * ½ ^ By basic description, a prison potboiler produced by and co-starring Master P doesn’t exactly set the expectations soaring, so the extent to which this film does work comes as a bit of a shock… Get the review>>>
METAL * * * ^ Black and white photography. A loose, almost improvisational style. As if the parallels weren’t already clear cut… Get the review>>>
NIKITA BLUES * ½ ^ “Nikita wants to give her teacher more than just a red apple!” Don’t be fooled by this provocative tag line… Get the review>>>