Recap: S.O.U.L. Fest x American Black Film Festival 2022

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Photography by: E. Jepson

Hollywood News Source had the privilege in September to attend SOUL FEST (Screening Our Unseen Lives) in collaboration with the American Film Festival – ABFF GLOBAL LONDON, showcasing young black filmmakers from the United Kingdom, United States and from around the world, in front of and behind the camera. Opening night we had the chance to watch veteran actor Sanaa Lathan (Blade, Nip/Tuck, Love and Basketball) in her directorial debut showcasing ‘On the Come Up’ from Paramount Pictures.

Below is the synopsis of the event from the S.O.U.L. FEST website:

The S.O.U.L Film Festival 2022 collaborated with the American Black Film Festival (ABFF).

Taking place from 16th-18th September at the BFI Southbank and new venue partner The Garden Cinema, the festival hosted screenings, panel discussions and networking events, with the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) promoting the international opportunities that exist for Black British filmmakers who are trying to get their work made and seen.

2022 brought about significant and exciting change for the festival (co-founded by The British Blacklist, S.O.U.L Film and We Are Parable), as it represented a new collaboration with the ABFF, the premier event in the United States showcasing the work of content creators of African descent. Now in its 26th year, the ABFF has become a cornerstone of diversity in Hollywood, providing a platform for the early works of Black talent including Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Halle Berry (Bruised) and Issa Rae (Insecure).

Photography by: E. Jepson, (left to right) American Film Festival Founders (ABFF): Jeff and Nicole Friday, Sony Pictures Entertainment-Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer: Paul Martin, during opening night.

On Saturday we had the S.O.U.L. Fest Awards 2022, presented by S.O.U.L Film Festival Founder Iyare Igiehon, featuring wonderful short films from talented UK filmmakers, courtesy of S.O.U.L. FEST.

S.O.U.L. Fest Award Winners 2022

Impact AwardKiell Smith-Bynoe

Craft AwardJuliet Antoinette Green, Production Design – “The Ballead Of Olive Morris”

Best ScreenplayEdem Wornoo, “The Butterfly Affect”

Best PerformerDenzel Baidoo, “Reflection”

Best DirectorAde Femzo, “Drop Out”

Best Film – “Reflection” – Pamela Drameh, Producer

They dove into the origins of the American Black Film Festival with Jeff and Nicole, the (ABFF) humble beginnings and how top Hollywood stars such as Denzel Washington, Halle Berry and Morgan Freeman supported the (ABFF) at the start. The American Film Festival helped to influence the careers of young filmmakers such as Ryan Coogler, Anthony Anderson, Jordan Peele and many more. It was a very inspiring and educational talk about elevating unseen Black talent and giving them the platform to be their best creative self and beyond, making the landscape of the film industry more open and diverse.

From the official American Black Film Festival website below :

SHOWCASING BLACK TALENT. DISCOVERING NEW VOICES.

Now in its 27th year, the American Black Film Festival is an annual event that empowers Black artists and showcases a wide range of entertainment content made by and about people of African descent. An experience like no other, the festival brings together Black culture enthusiasts, executives and content creators from around the world for five days of screenings, talk events, exclusive parties and high-powered networking. Come join us for live in Miami Beach from June 14 -18, followed by our virtual segment streaming on ABFF Play from June 19-25.

Above are two of the featured film trailers that played at S.O.U.L FEST 2022, featuring first time director Sanaa Lathan in ‘On the Come Up’ and ‘Silent Twins’ starring Letitia Wright (Black Panther) and Tamara Lawrence (Boxing Day).

Go to the official YouTube channel of S.O.U.L.Fest to watch past interviews, including one below featuring stars Aldis Hodge (Black Adam) and Wendell Pierce (Suits) in the film ‘CLEMENCY’ from 2020, in an interview conducted by Kua Gyamfi from the British Blacklist (and co-founder of S.O.U.L.Fest).

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