by: Gary Pratt • 2
Dubbed “The Black Sundance,” the Hollywood Black Film Festival (HBFF) is an annual 6-day celebration of Black Cinema drawing together established filmmakers, popular film and TV stars, writers, directors, industry executives, emerging artists, and diverse audiences from Hollywood and around the world. Attracting such stars and industry insiders as Academy Award® winner Sidney Poitier, Forest Whitaker, John Singleton, Spike Lee, George Tillman, Tina Andrews, Reuben Cannon, Cedric The Entertainer, Anthony Anderson, Blair Underwood, Sanaa Lathan, Antwone Fisher, Ice-T, Rev. Run, Bill Duke, Loretta Devine, Rockmond Dunbar, Lamaan Rucker, directors Tim Story, Preston Whitmore, Rob Hardy and Jeff Byrd, and producer Will Packer, the Festival has become a hotbed for the Black Hollywood community. HBFF was founded in 1998 by its executive director, Tanya Kersey, in order to enhance the careers of emerging and established black filmmakers through a public exhibition and competition program. The festival’s goal is to play an integral role in discovering and launching independent films and filmmakers by bringing them to the attention of the industry, media and public. Since its inception in 1999, HBFF has screened a total of 721 independent films including 132 features, 382 shorts, 108 documentaries, 73 student films, 14 animated films and 8 music videos, from all across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and the Caribbean. It has held 339 world premieres, 13 U.S. premieres, 91 West Coast premieres and 59 Los Angeles premieres. Over 50,000 people have attended and enjoyed the diversity of Black Cinema through the festival.
HBFF’s Infotainment Conference features dozens of informational seminars, panels and workshops covering a wide variety of topics which include: film production, distribution and marketing, pitching, writing for television and film, in addition to specific programs designed to inform and educate of interest to actors.Each year, more than 100 top film and television executives, filmmakers, producers, directors, writers, agents, attorneys, business managers and actors participate in the talk-show style panels, roundtable discussions and workshops.A highlight of the Infotainment Conference is “A Conversation With…” a series of up-close-and-personal candid conversations with some of the industry’s hottest movers and shakers. HBFF has been honored to have directors and producers such as John Singleton (Hustle and Flow, Illegal Tender, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Shaft, and Boyz N The Hood), George Tillman (Soul Food and Barbershop) and St. Clair Bourne (The Life and Works of Gordon Parks and John Henrick Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk) and scribe Tina Andrews (ATL and Why Do Fools Fall in Love?) participate in these.The HBFF Pitchathon, among the most popular Infotainment Conference events, has become a MUST ATTEND for filmmakers and storytellers hoping to sell their idea, story, book, or screenplay to Hollywood buyers. Participants get to pitch their story ideas to entertainment industry executives (film directors and producers, acquisitions, development, production and distribution executives), talent agents and key personnel who have the power to “greenlight” desired projects. Pitchathon panelists will critique submitted works from filmmakers by examining content, concepts and story ideas to determine its commercial potential in today’s film marketplace.