The art of creating a short film is something that is often overlooked by the general public. But the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) has an appreciation of this nuanced craft. On day two of this year’s ABFF, five great works were screened at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. Each is in the running to win a $10,000 grand prize and a chance to broadcast their film on HBO.
Although the longest competing works were only 20 minutes long, they were packed with great performances from accomplished actors like Chandra Wilson and Malcolm-Jamal Warner who starred in the Rachel Goldberg directed piece Muted. A riveting story written by Brandi Ford, Muted tells the tale of a young girl who goes missing and a family that feverishly tries to convince authorities that she isn’t just another black girl who ran away.
Ir/Reconcilable, written and directed by Gabrielle Fulton, stars Jasmine Guy as a recovering drug addict who’s seeking to reconcile with her family after years of neglecting familial responsibilities.
While another drama, Dawn, directed by Ya’Ke and starring his wife Mikala Gibson, is the tale of a woman working to get her life back on track after serving a prison sentence. Despite her efforts, she quickly realizes that although she may be sincere in a desire to go straight, society isn’t willing to give a second chance.
When It All Falls Down… is a film about two starry-eyed young lovers going through the trials and tribulations of holding together a relationship, despite pressures from within and outside their circle.
Bringing more emotion, The Perfect Sacrifice, written by Tiffany Littlejohn and featuring Nakia Secrest in the lead role as Mamie Till-Bradley, tells the gut-wrenching yet inspiring story of Emmitt Till’s mother in the days and weeks following his murder by racists in Mississippi. "The first time I heard about Emmitt Till was from my brother,” said Littlejohn, during the short film panel moderated by TV personality, Bevy Smith. "My older brother saw Eyes on the Prize in class and came home from school one day and tried to tell me about it, but was having a hard time explaining to me what he looked like after he was murdered. Also, I used to live in Oakland around the time Oscar Grant was murdered and I would catch the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) from Fruitvale Station to work in San Francisco. To be standing on the same platform where he was slaughtered was chilling. Those were my inspirations for The Perfect Sacrifice."
Ironically, Fruitvale Station director and writer, Ryan Coogler, screened his short film Fig at ABFF in 2011. Fig won the prize that year for Best Short Film.
The winner of this year’s $10,000 prize will be announced at “The Best of the ABFF” awards presentation Sunday at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan.