The American Black Film Festival is back, and the line-up is more packed than ever.
After going virtual these past two years, ABFF is returning to Miami in-person for its 26th anniversary. To celebrate, the festival is hosting more screenings than ever before: Issa Rae, this year's ABFF ambassador, is debuting her sophomore series Rap Sh!t, while the highly-anticipated A League of Their Own reboot is, ahem, coming out of the bullpen. Documentaries will also take center stage this year, with Civil opening the festival and Aftershock featured in the spotlight screenings.
Below, we've rounded up 10 of the buzziest films and television series worth watching.
The festival opens with Civil, a documentary set to give an intimate look at the life of landmark civil rights attorney Ben Crump. Crump, the civil lawyer for the families of George Floyd, Andre Hill and Breonna Taylor, is on a mission to "raise the value of Black life in America." Produced by Kenya Barris, Roger Ross Williams and Lauren Cioffi, the film offers a behind the scenes look at Crump's upbringing and continued advocacy.
Screening: June 15 at ABFF and streaming on Netflix on June 19 in honor of Juneteenth
Rap Sh!t tells the story of estranged high school friends, Shawna and Mia, who reunite to form a rap group. The show is all about authenticity: Miami hip-hop stars City Girls serve as executive producers, while KaMillion, who plays Mia, is a Miami-based rapper herself. The show marks Insecure creator Issa Rae's sophomore series, and as this year's festival ambassador, Rae will make an appearance at a post-screening talkback with creators and on-camera talent.
Screening: June 18 at ABFF and premiering on HBO Max on July 21
A League of Their Own
Based on Penny Marshall's timeless classic, Amazon's A League of Their Own series expands the story to include "an entire generation of women who dreamed of playing professional baseball." Starring Abbi Jacobson, Chanté Adams, D'Arcy Carden and Gbemisola Ikumelo, the series will feature brand-new characters who explore race and sexuality alongside close games, injuries and road trips against the backdrop of World War II.
Screening: June 18 at ABFF and premiering on Amazon Prime Video on August 12
Following the loss of two women due to complications from childbirth, Aftershock follows their mourning families as they "galvanize activists, birth-workers and physicians" to reckon with the United States' Black maternal mortality crisis. After premiering earlier this year at Sundance to great acclaim, the documentary will now be screened at ABFF before becoming available to stream on Hulu and Disney+ next month.
Screening: June 16 at ABFF
In honor of the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson becoming the first Black player allowed to play in Major League Baseball, the History Channel’s After Jackie follows just what happened after Robinson broke that historic barrier. The documentary brings to light the stories of the often-overlooked second wave of Black baseball players, including Bill White, Curt Flood and Bob Gibson, who continued the fight for a fairer game.
Screening: June 18 at ABFF and airing on the History Channel the same day. There will also be a free screening on June 19 as a part of ABFF's Community Day.
The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder
A continuation of the hit early 2000s animated series, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder follows the misadventures of Penny Proud, all grown up at 14 years old, and her family. As a teenager, Penny must now face new challenges, like "a socially woke neighbor who thinks she has a lot to teach her, bullying social media influencers who want to cancel her" and her own hormones.
Screening: June 16 at ABFF; season 1 is also now available to stream on Disney+
Down With the King
Rapper Money Merc (Freddie Gibbs) has been sent to a country house in the Berkshires by his manager to focus on his next album. But Merc, enjoying his time away from the limelight, announces his retirement, prompting his manager to leap into action. Rapper Freddie Gibbs’ film debut, Down With the King follows a star disillusioned with fame.
Screening: June 16 at ABFF and available digitally and on demand on June 26
BET HER Presents: Content For Change
This exclusive preview features a compilation of shorts from BET HER's "Her Stories" franchise, which is "used to empower the next generation of Black women filmmakers through a curated selection of original movies." The shorts featured include director Naturi Naughton's Behind the Smile! and LisaRaye McCoy's The Pink Fight.
Screening: June 17 at ABFF before airing in July in honor of Minority Mental Health Month and again in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Right to Offend: The Black Comedy Revolution
A two-part documentary from A&E, Right to Offend traces the history of Black stand-up comedians who have used comedy to expose and challenge racism in the United States. From executive producer Kevin Hart, this docu-series explores how acts like Redd Foxx, Whoopi Goldberg and Def Comedy Jam have spoken truth to power when no one else can.
Screening: June 17 at ABFF and airing on A&E on June 29.
In this sixth and final season premiere of OWN's Black Love, filmmakers Codie Elaine Oliver and Tommy Oliver follow a diverse set of couples as they detail their love stories. From first meetings to break-ups, the lovers detail how, exactly, they make their marriages work.
Screening: June 18 at ABFF
By Charlotte Walsh
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