For the first time, in the sixteenth year history of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), the festival’s opening night film, was not written or directed by a person of African or African American descent. Never before had this happened.
After many years of holding the festival, it finally dawned on Jeff Friday, the film festival founder, that he could no longer ask the mainstream competitors, such as Sundance, to open with films written and directed by his community – if he wasn’t willing to do the same at his venue. Although the opening night’s film, Beast of the Southern Wild, may not have been written by a person of African descent, it did include a cast and a theme which connected with many of the ABFF participants.
Besides Friday making history with the opening film, the ABFF continued this year’s festival by providing a platform for aspiring film makers, writers, producers and actors to network, attend educational workshops, and hone their skills. Added to this, the ABFF included a lively, interactive Black trivia film game which was hosted by both Robert Townsend and Cadillac.
Townsend, who is a historian of black films (or films in general), noted that while serving as the game show’s host, he was even stumped by some of the questions that were prepared by the folks from Cadillac.
Don Butler, Cadillac’s Vice President of Marketing, reminded the plethora of participants who were all vying to win an iPad, that the community has had a long history with the luxury brand. In fact, in the thirties, Black men (since they were the breadwinners at the time) played a pivotal role in keeping the luxury brand afloat during World War II. Black men weren’t allowed to walk into a showroom to purchase a vehicle; White men were used to broker the deal, as oral history has documented. Oral documented stories like this could be a strong reason as to why Cadillac feels indebted to help aspiring Black film makers and writers document and share the stories that reflect their community.
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him @ twitter/JeffCars.