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American Black Film Festival Honors’ 2020 ‘Movie of the Year’ Award Nominees Announced

‘Harriet’ star Cynthia Erivo will receive the organization’s 2020 “Rising Star’ award.

Courtesy ABFF

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) Honors, the pre-eminent awards event celebrating Black culture and artists who have made distinguished contributions to the entertainment industry either through their work or as champions of diversity and inclusion in Hollywood, today announced the nominees for its “Movie of the Year” award.  

The ABFF Honors’ Movie of the Year” award is a competitive award presented to the best feature-length film of the year directed by and/or starring a lead actor or actress of African descent.   

This year’s nominees are: Black & Blue, directed by Deon Taylor, starring Academy Award-nominee Naomie Harris and Tyrese Gibson;  Dolemite Is My Name, directed by Craig Brewer, starring Academy Award-nominated Eddie Murphy, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess and Wesley Snipes; Harriet, directed by Kasi Lemmons and starring Golden Globe and SAG Award nominee Cynthia Erivo, who, as previously announced, is set to receive the 2020 ABFF Honors’ “Rising Star” Award, which has previously been presented to Tiffany Haddish (Kids Say the Darndest Things), Issa Rae (Insecure) and Ryan Coogler (Black Panther); Just Mercy, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, starring Michael B. Jordan and Academy Award-winner Jamie Foxx; The Last Black Man in San Francisco, directed by Joe Talbot, written by and starring Jimmie Fails; Queen & Slim, directed by two-time Grammy Award-winner Melina Matsoukas, starring Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith; and Us, written and directed by Jordan Peele, starring Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o.

“These films collectively represent the diversity and complexity of the African-American experience in America,” said ABFF Ventures CEO, Jeff Friday. “This has been a phenomenal year for Black content and we are excited to celebrate its universal appeal and the community of creators behind it.” 

2020 “Movie of the Year” Award Nominees:

BLACK & BLUE An action thriller about a rookie cop (Naomie Harris) who inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam. After realizing that the murder was committed by corrupt cops, she teams up with the one person from her community who is willing to help her (Tyrese Gibson) as she tries to escape both the criminals out for revenge and the police who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage.

DOLEMITE IS MY NAME Eddie Murphy portrays real-life legend Rudy Ray Moore, a comedy and rap pioneer who proved naysayers wrong when his hilarious, obscene, kung fu-fighting alter ego, Dolemite, became a 1970s Blaxploitation phenomenon.

HARRIET Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, Harriet tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s (Cynthia Erivo) escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.

JUST MERCY After graduating from Harvard, Bryan (Michael B. Jordan) might have had his pick of lucrative jobs. Instead, he heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley (Brie Larson.) One of his first, and most incendiary, cases is that of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx,) who, in 1987, was sentenced to die for the notorious murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite a preponderance of evidence proving his innocence and the fact that the only testimony against him came from a criminal with a motive to lie. In the years that follow, Bryan becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of legal and political maneuverings and overt and unabashed racism as he fights for Walter, and others like him, with the odds-and the system-stacked against them.

THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO A young man (Jimmie Fails) searches for home in the changing city that seems to have left him behind.

QUEEN & SLIM Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) and Queen’s (Jodie Turner-Smith) first date takes an unexpected turn when a policeman pulls them over for a minor traffic violation. When the situation escalates, Slim takes the officer’s gun and shoots him in self-defense. Now labelled cop killers in the media, Slim and Queen feel that they have no choice but to go on the run and evade the law. When a video of the incident goes viral, the unwitting outlaws soon become a symbol of trauma, terror, grief and pain for people all across the country

US In order to get away from their busy lives, the Wilson family takes a vacation to Santa Cruz, California, with the plan of spending time with their friends, the Tyler family. During a day at the beach, their young son Jason almost wanders off, causing his mother Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) to become protective of her family. That night, four mysterious people break into Adelaide’s childhood home where they’re staying. The family is shocked to find out that the intruders look like them, only with grotesque appearances.

Each year, the nominees are determined by a jury from the ABFF’s Entertainment Journalist Committee (EJC), who then vote in conjunction with national consumers to determine the winner. Voting for the general public is available via an online ballot at www.ABFFHonors.com/vote. Voting begins on Dec. 28, 2019 and runs through Jan. 15, 2020.

For the second year, American Airlines will sponsor the ABFF Honors “VIP Fan Experience,” which is an opportunity for one consumer to attend this exclusive event and celebrate Black excellence among the most influential artists, executives, and stakeholders in the entertainment industry. One fan will be randomly selected by the ABFF organization from the pool of individuals who vote for the “Movie of the Year,” and receive two tickets for the ceremony, two round-trip domestic economy-class tickets on American Airlines, hotel accommodations and a chance to walk the red carpet on the night of the ceremony. The announcement will be made on or about Jan. 20, 2020. 

Presented by ABFF Ventures, the 2020 ABFF Honors will be hosted by Emmy-nominated comedian and actor Deon Cole, taking place on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020 in Los Angeles. Sponsors include American Airlines, Cadillac and Hilton (Red Carpet), and Prudential Financial and Sony Pictures Entertainment (Supporting).

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