The year of transcendent black directors and breakthrough films with black casts continues along with the 17th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival presented by BET Networks in New York.
Actually, black directors are producing quality films every year. But a confluence of agreeable circumstances produced the meteoric successes of Lee Daniels The Butler, while Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is blowing back audiences before it even hits the theaters.
Larenz Tate, who stars in the Reggie Rock Bythewood-BET original film Gun Hill, served as the official ambassador of the Urbanworld Film Festival as the first full day of movie screenings took place at the AMC Loews 34th Street theater in Manhattan. Also on hand was musical geniuses Questlove and George Clinton, movie-making legend Melvin Van Peebles, Micheal K. Smith of “The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire” fame and many others.
Tate and fellow cast members Aisha Hinds, Michael Aronov, and Shanti Ashanti. George Clinton, Nona Hendryx, Questlove, Melvin Van Peebles, Jared Nickerson, Stuart Matthewman, and director Nelson George were on hand for the screening of the VH1 Rock Doc “Finding the Funk.” Urbanworld favorite Michael Kenneth Williams represented for the cast of They Die by Dawn alongside director Jeymes Samuel, while director Sai Varadan brought the cast for his film An American in Hollywood onto the carpet.
The Urbanworld Film Festival continues with: a screening of Little Ballers, which will be attended by NBA player/executive producer Amar’e Stoudemire and director Crystal McCrary; a Season 4 episode screening of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” attended by Michael Kenneth Williams, Jeffrey Wright and writer Howard Korder; and the Closing Night screening of the Codeblack/Lionsgate film The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete, a jarring and spellbinding film that won over fans at the American Black Film Festival in June. That screening will be attended by director George Tillman and Jeffrey Wright.