Kerry Washington’s ‘UnPrisoned’ Season 2 to Debut at the American Black Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

The lineup for the 28th edition of the American Black Film Festival continues to get more star studded with the world premiere of the second season of Kerry Washington’s Hulu series “UnPrisoned.”

Washington will attend the Miami Beach-based festival to celebrate the premiere and sit for a fireside chat with fellow executive producer Tracy McMillan, who created the series based on her life.

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The Special Screenings lineup also features world premieres of documentaries “Ol’ Dirty Bastard: A Tale of Two Dirtys,” about the Wu-Tang Clan founding member, and the A&E documentary “Down in the Valley,” inspired the world of the hit Starz series “P-Valley,” plus a screening of the classic “Devil in a Blue Dress,” as part of the Denzel Washington Retrospective.

The HBO Short Film Award Showcase will kick off the film festival program on June 12, hosted by Sirius XM’s Bevy Smith (“Bevelations”). Five filmmakers are selected as finalists, and one grand prize winner will be presented with the HBO Short Film Award and a cash prize of $10,000. Notably, this year’s lineup is made up solely by Black women directors.

“It’s an honor to return to ABFF and open the festival with the HBO Short Film Award Showcase,” said Dennis Williams, senior vice president of corporate social responsibility at Warner Bros. Discovery. “Now in its 27th year, the HBO Short Film Award Showcase is a defining example of our commitment to ABFF and to launching the careers of emerging Black filmmakers.”

The short film competition, sponsored by HBO and Warner Bros. Discovery has helped launch the careers of successful filmmakers, including Ryan Coogler (“Fig,” 2011 award winner), Reinaldo Marcus Green (“Stone Cars,” 2013 finalist), Rashaad Ernesto Green (“Premature,” 2008 winner), Frank E. Flowers (“Swallow,” 2003 winner) and Steven Caple, Jr. (“A Different Tree,” 2013 winner).

This year’s festival takes place June 12-16 in Miami Beach, Fla., followed by a virtual segment June 17-24 on ABFF PLAY. Winners of the film festival competition will be announced on June 15, during the “Best of ABFF Awards” hosted by Emmy nominee Dondré Whitfield.

The 2024 HBO Short Film Award finalists, as well as the full Spotlight Screenings, Series and Voices of Culture lineups, are below:

HBO Short Film Award Showcase
“Chocolate with Sprinkles” (World Premiere)
On their 25th wedding anniversary, a bickering married couple is given one day to do something they haven’t done in 25 years – work on their marriage.
USA | 19 min
Director: Huriyyah Muhammad
Writer: Huriyyah Muhammad
Producer: Okema T. Moore, Yha Mourhia Wright, Cole Sanchez
Cast: Reno Wilson, Keisha Thompson, Camron Jones, Lillian Gilbert

A film about teenage dreams, dislocated grief and unexpected connection, following a British-Somali teen navigating a confusing mourning period for a family member she never met.
United Kingdom | 19 min
Director: Warda Mohamed
Writer: Warda Mohamed
Producer: Angela Moneke, Simon Hatton
Cast: Kosar Ali, Raha Isse Farah, Elmi Rashid Elmi, Ahmed Nur

“Once Upon A Dime” (World Premiere)
Nkosi plans and executes the perfect first date, but as the sun sets, we realize that things with Nkosi aren’t quite what they seem.
USA | 12 min
Director/Writer/Producer: Lauren Julia
Cast: Quincy Chad, Anjali Khetan

“The Brown Dog” (World Premiere)
Night after night, a watchman clocks into his lonely booth and spends hours composing endless security logs to stay awake, as he slowly descends into darkness.
USA | 14 min
Director: Nadia Hallgren, Jamie-James Medina
Writer: Willis Earl Beal
Producer: Nadia Hallgren, Jamie-James Medina, Michael Stirton
Cast: Michael K. Williams, Steve Buscemi

“The Rebel Girls”
The true story of the 1960s fight for Civil Rights through the eyes of the girls who reinvigorated the struggling movement through the power of magical thinking, friendship, faith, and fortitude.
USA | 22 min
Director: Felicia D Henderson
Writer: Felicia D Henderson
Producer: Felicia D Henderson, Katrina Kudlick
Cast: Nika King, Kyanna Simone, Nia Sondaya, Honey Robinson, Asia Holiday, Josephine Lawrence, Avynn Crowder-Jones, Maxcianna Saintilus

Spotlight Screenings
“Affion Crockett Presents Microphone Masters: Comedy, Community, and Collaboration”
Moderated by Talitha Watkins, president & head of ColorCreative, with panelists Affion Crockett, actor, comedian and producer; Delmar Washington, director and producer; and Keesha Boyd, VP, entertainment products, Comcast and executive producer for the Black Experience on Xfinity. Enjoy a full episode screening and discussion centering on the creative process and collaborative work in bringing this 3-part stand-up comedy docuseries to life.
Run time: 56 minutes
Creator & Producer: Affion Crockett
Courtesy of: Comcast NBCUniversal Black Experience on Xfinity

“Devil in a Blue Dress”
It’s 1948 and Los Angeles is booming, but Easy Rawlins (Denzel Washington) has seen better days. He’s just been fired and he’s got house payments to make, so when Easy is offered a job locating the mysterious Daphne Monet (Jennifer Beals), he doesn’t waste much time saying yes. Now he finds himself drawn into a web of murder, blackmail, brutal cops, and corrupt city politics. Devil In A Blue Dress also stars Tom Sizemore as DeWitt Albright, who hustles Easy into this dangerous game, and Don Cheadle as Mouse, Easy’s extremely volatile friend. Reminiscent of film noir, this stylish production is based on the book by Walter Mosley. Directed by Carl Franklin with a screenplay by Franklin.
Run time: 101 min
Courtesy of: Sony Pictures Entertainment

“Down In the Valley” (Premiere)
A documentary series inspired by the vibrant world of “P-Valley,” set to air in 2024. The six, half-hour episode series, hosted and executive produced by Nicco Annan (“P-Valley”), will take viewers on a tantalizing tour of the Deep South, unveiling a complex South that is equal parts poignant, joyful, and magical.
Run time: 25 min
Host: Nicco Annan
Courtesy of: STARZ

Be the first to see the heart-pounding season two premiere of NBC’s hit crime drama series “Found.” Following will be an intimate conversation with co-showrunner/executive producer Sonay Hoffman and stars Arlen Escarpeta (“Zeke”) and Gabrielle Walsh (“Lacey”). PR specialist Gabi Mosley (Shanola Hampton) and her team are dedicated to finding missing people. But Gabi has a chilling secret – she’s locked up her childhood kidnapper Sir (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) in the basement to help her crack every case. Now Sir has escaped and is on the loose. And her biggest secret is now her biggest threat.
Run time: 43 minutes
Cast: Shanola Hampton, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Kelli Williams, Brett Dalton, Gabrielle Walsh, Arlen Escarpeta and Karan Oberoi
Creator: Nkechi Okoro Carroll
Showrunners: Nkechi Okoro Carroll and Sonay Hoffman
Courtesy of: Comcast NBCUniversal and NBC

“Ol’ Dirty Bastard: A Tale of Two Dirtys” (World Premiere)
The definitive documentary on Wu-Tang Clan founding member Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The film explores how Russell Tyrone Jones created Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a Hip Hop alter ego superhero that would ultimately consume him. Featuring interviews with Mariah Carey, Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon and Ghost Requested
Run time: 86 minutes
Courtesy of: A&E

“UnPrisoned” (World Premiere)
Join the world premiere screening of the second season of Hulu’s heartfelt dramedy “UnPrisoned,” starring Kerry Washington and Delroy Lindo, followed by a fireside chat with executive producers Washington and Tracy McMillan. In season two, the Alexander family is still a mess. Paige’s therapy practice is in trouble, Finn’s anxiety is through the roof, Edwin is still figuring out how to get his life together outside of prison, and their relationships are more complicated than ever. The family needs help, and it’s time to call in a professional – OTHER than Paige. The Alexanders turn to a “family radical healing coach,” who throws out all the rules to free them of the issues, old wounds and family secrets holding them back.
Run time: 26:42
Cast: Kerry Washington (EP/Star) and Tracy McMillan (Creator/EP)
Courtesy of: Onyx Collective, ABC Signature and Hulu

A competitive section for short-form episodic television directed by and/or both written and produced by persons of African descent. Each series in this section will compete for the jury award for best series — a $2,500 cash prize presented by Comcast NBCUniversal’s Black Experience on Xfinity.

“Groupies” (World Premiere)
Four determined, marginally educated groupies on a mission to change their destiny by bagging a baller… or at least his Bentley ?!
USA | 32 min
Director: Corey Grant
Writer: Daphnique Springs
Producer: Daphnique Springs, Phaedra Harris
Cast: Daphnique Springs, Ciera Angelia. Natasha Chandel, Christian Torres Villalobos

Mo Brown’s Bodega” (World Premiere)
Explore the bizarre world of a local NYC bodega owner as she attempts to rid
herself of the family business against her father’s wishes, all in hopes to
achieve her wildest dreams.
USA | 8 min
Director: Mo Brown
Writer: Mo Brown, Xavier Francis, Tiffany Jordan
Producer: Mo Brown, Xavier Francis, Patrice Waite
Cast: Mo Brown, Vesta Walker

“On Second Thought” (World Premiere)
Autumn, a married woman, finds herself entangled in a secret affair that results in her
lover mysteriously turning up dead.
USA | 20 min
Director: Eric J. Dickens
Writer: Eric J. Dickens
Producer: Eric J. Dickens, Dawn Halfkenny
Cast: Dawn Halfkenny, Lawrence Robinson, Andrea Lewis, Robert Gordon

“Unsolicited” (World Premiere)
An opinionated misfit exposes the personal lives of his sister and new neighbors in a weekly column.
USA | 29 min
Director: Chazitear Martin
Writer: Barshea Lowery
Producer: Barshea Lowery, Aysia Moorer, Chazitear Martin
Cast: Barshea Lowery, Seth Dousman, Aysia Moore, Shayla Love, Terrill Patterson, Todd Anthony Manaigo, Schwanda Winston, Caroline Avery Granger, Mac Wells, Brandon Dunn

Voices Of Culture
This section celebrates diverse voices and perspectives within the filmmaking community.

“1 Up” (U.S. Premiere)
Andrew searches for guidance and connection through his late father’s record collection.
United Kingdom |16 min
Director: Greg Francis
Writer: Greg Francis
Producer: Tobi Kyeremateng
Cast: Lamar Waves, Mina Andala, Sean Earl McPherson

“32” (World Premiere)
A woman realizes she’s the same age with the same ailment that her father had when he passed away and she finds herself trying to balance the ebb and flow of this bittersweet feeling and phase of her life.
USA | 15 min
Director: Stewart Yost
Writer: Shakira Ja’nai Paye
Producer: Shakira Ja’nai Paye & Stewart Yost
Cast: Shakira Ja’nai Paye, Gail Bean

“Alliés” (U.S. Premiere)
Back from a trip to Africa, Amaury wants to tell his
friends that he wants to change his identity.
France | 15 min
Director: Salif Cissé
Writer: Salif Cissé
Producer: Walid Bekhti
Cast: Guillaume Morel, Agathe Mazouin, Alexandre Auvergne,
Clémence Coullon, Myriam Fitcher, Mikaël-Don Giancarli

“Baby Something” (World Premiere)
A Ghanaian-American woman and a Ghanaian-Indian man embark on their journey of parenthood, but the universal politics of race quickly becomes a piercing obstacle for her to overcome.
Ghana | 18 min
Director: Nicole F. Amarteifio
Writer: Nicole F. Amarteifio
Producer: Nicole F. Amarteifio, Ramesh Jai Gulabrai
Cast: Nicole F. Amarteifio, Ramesh Jai Gulabrai, Niyara Afua Gulabrai

“Behold A Lady” (World Premiere)
When a studious tomboy’s boyfriend dumps her on the eve of her Latin Quiz Bowl tryouts, she struggles to balance her heartbreak and studies as she transforms her appearance to win him back.
Ghana | 16 min
Director: Britt Williams
Writer: Britt Williams
Producer: Austin Chen, Chris Crema
Cast: Alana Kay Bright, AMARR, Naquia Brown, Jon Gentry, Taharka Welcome, Olivia Celine

“Definitely Not A Monster”
After a beloved icon dies after being accused of rape, his devoted widow invites a journalist into their home to clear his name.
USA | 19 min
Director: Brea Cola Angelo
Writer: Brea Cola Angelo
Producer: Jaqueline Fabricius, Koury Angelo, Audra Todd, Stephen Enloe
Cast: April Grace, Brea Cola Angelo

“Haven” (World Premiere)
A man questions his notion of a safe place, then confronts disturbing beings that appear in his home.
USA | 10 min
Director: Corey Emanuel Jr.
Writer: Corey Emanuel Jr.
Producer: Lili Dessalegn Tegegn, Corey Emanuel Jr., Shellita Boxie
Cast: Andre De’Sean Shanks, Kingston Zelaya, Dominique McCllelan,
Shelitta Boxie

“How To Sue The Klan”
The Legacy of the Chattanooga Five.
USA | 35 min
Director: John Beder
Producer: John Beder, Benjamin Crump, Cameron S. Mitchell, Raji Ramanathan
Cast: Ben Crump, Randolph McLaughlin, Juanita Toney, Nate Crumsey, Sonya Rollins, Connie Rollins, Betty Lawrence Lewis, Roberta Kaplan

A man’s overly talkative wife disrupts her elderly husband’s day of peace.
USA | 13 min
Director: Warren S. L. Burke
Writer: Warren S. L. Burke
Producer: Warren S. L. Burke, Rebecca Herrick
Cast: Loretta Devine & Frankie Faison

“My Brother & Me” (World Premiere)
A coming-of-age story about two brothers who attempt to rob their distant father of their overdue child support.
USA | 17 min
Director: Ryan DeForeest
Writer: Ryan DeForeest
Producer: Ryan DeForeest, Lexx Truss, Shandrea Evans
Cast: Alexander Bello, Zechariah Eubanks, Rodney Hobbs, Katie Kelley, Micah Kobayashi, Riley Nelson, Thaddeus Newman

“Ninth Life” (World Premiere)
A predominantly non-verbal drama series exploring the interconnections of a group of young BIPOC creatives in London.
United Kingdom | 14 min
Director: JOMO (Tajana Tokyo & Sannchia Gaston)
Writer: JOMO (Tajana Tokyo & Sannchia Gaston)
Producer: Alli Maxwell, Scarlett Anderson, Somesuch, Miriam
Cast: Michelle Zan, Gabriel Goux, Yos Clark, Kikz Katika, Lisa Sainvil, Fatou Bah, Benjamin Williams, Robia Milliner, Tajorn Brown, Belen Leroux, Aahkilah Cornelius, Sweetny Ojule, Webster Opiyo, Keith Alexander, Tyrik Patterson, Genesis Lynea & Remi Black

“Promise” (World Premiere)
Promise, a single mother facing deportation and John, an
ex-con with a business idea, find their marriage of convenience becoming something
USA | 21 min
Director: D. Wilmos Paul
Writer: D. Wilmos Paul
Producer: Anuradha Srikanth, Ned Johnson and D. Wilmos Paul
Cast: Artrece Johnson and Donnevan Tolbert

“The Origin”
Tep, one of the only legitimate heirs of an ancient extraterrestrial power, finds himself forced to join forces with a wise sage and his tribal brother to fight off alien mercenaries sent to eliminate them.
USA | 26 min
Director: Jorge Sanchez
Writer: Jorge Sanchez
Producer: Jtasha St. Cyr, Morris Chestnut, Jorge Sanchez
Cast: Morris Chestnut, Alimi Ballard, J.Chris Rouse, Lanre Idewu, Kearia Schroeder, Page Kennedy, Jayce Kennedy

“Vigilante” (World Premiere)
In a world where superheroes overlook the vulnerable, four friends with powers step up to protect their neglected neighborhood.
USA | 24 min
Director: Wesley Armstrong
Writer: Phil Dover II
Producer: Jamee Ranta, Diamond Batiste, Alain Fleury
Cast: Khleo Thomas, Maestro Harrell, Jaden Martin, Timothy Kennedy, Benjamin Abiola

“X: The Interview” (World Premiere)
A canceled superhero facing eviction turns to his side hustle for survival. As he embarks on his journey, he discovers dark powers are conspiring against him…
USA | 19 min
Director: RJ Barnes, Anthony Rose
Writer: RJ Barnes
Producer: RJ Barnes, Anthony Rose, Anthony Baldino
Cast: Brandon Broady, Stephanie Elyse, Jerah Milligan, Jacqueline Legrande, Christopher Hancock, Patrice Lakey, Kate McIntyre, Arayawna Moore, Leah “L” Knauer, Jeremy “Gumbo” Christian

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