2023 ABFF announces HBO Short Film Awards Showcase finalists

The festival consists of storytelling from across the globe by the next generation
2023 ABFF announces HBO Short Film Awards Showcase finalists
Photo credit: ABFF

The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) announced today the selection of finalists who will compete in its Annual HBO® Short Film Award Showcase and Series and Voices of Culture lineup. The 27th annual ABFF will take place in Miami June 14-18 and will be available to a global audience June 19-25 on ABFF PLAY (

“We have curated a diverse lineup of authentic stories created by talented artists that give visibility to Black creatives in the industry,” said Nicole Friday, ABFF Venture president and COO. “Over 25 years ago, we launched the HBO Short Film Award, spotlighting groundbreaking filmmakers and elevating Black content for mainstream audiences to experience.  Many dynamic storytellers have been a part of the ABFF community, and we are proud to continue our legacy of showcasing gifted creators.”

Winners of the 2023 independent film awards and talent contest winners will be announced during the Best of the ABFF Awards hosted by Emmy-nominated actor and author Dondré Whitfield on Saturday, June 17, at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Sirius XM’s Bevy Smith of Bevelations will host the HBO Showcase. ABFF is proud to be a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards® Short Film Awards.

The annual five-day festival, held in locations in and around Miami Beach and the City of Miami, will showcase a selection of exclusive programs from networks and streamers including spotlight screenings, conversations and panels with award-winning directors, producers and top-line talent. For a complete schedule of programming, a full list of official film selections and to purchase passes for the 2023 American Black Film Festival, visit Follow @ABFF on Twitter, @AmericanBlackFilmFestival on Instagram and Facebook.

The HBO Short Film Award finalists, Web Series and Voices of Culture lineup are listed below.


HBO Short Film Award Showcase

Now in its 26th year, the HBO Short Film Award, sponsored by HBO and Warner Bros. Discovery, is regarded as one of the most prestigious short film showcases in the world. Five filmmakers are selected as finalists, one grand prize winner will be presented with the HBO Short Film Award and a cash prize of $10,000. The following films represent the finalists for the 2023 HBO Short Film Award.

Radio Silence

As a successful radio DJ, Tracey made a career out of her love for music and its connection to the human experience. But when confronted with her mother’s illness, she is forced to reevaluate her own life. Divided between the hauntingly beautiful memories of her past, fears of the future and the painful realities of her present, she gives herself the ultimate challenge – a broadcast of reconciliation.

USA | 2023 | 20 minutes

Written by: Nakia Secrest

Directed by: Ric Serena


Jelly is a young Black girl in Bed-stuy with a peculiar fascination with death. While trying to solve the mysterious case of a missing neighbor, she comes to terms with a more personal disappearance. Narrated by André Holland.

USA | 2023 | 10 minutes

Written and Directed by: Anndi Jinelle Liggett


When one of the last free children of Junkyard Paradise has her brother stolen away from her, no ragamuffin army or vicious beasts will stop her from getting him back.

USA | 2023 | 20 minutes

Written and Directed by: c. Craig Patterson

Recovery Chain

After being evicted by his mother, a rebellious teen must adapt to life with his distant father and his father’s new family.

USA | 2022 | 17 minutes

Written and Directed by: Quamé A. Hamlin


Basketball connects Jerome to his long-absent father, though not in the ways he wishes. As he wrestles with his own concept of family, he must confront his father’s legacy on and off the court.

USA | 2023 | 14 minutes

Written and Directed by: Gianfranco Fernández-Ruiz


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 (Television or Web) (presented by Comcast NBCUniversal, $2,500 cash prize). The following are the 2023 official selections in the Series category:

Being Alex *World Premiere

An eclectic high school sophomore embarks on an entertaining journey of self-discovery amidst a spiraling pandemic and life-changing social revolution.

USA | 11 min

Written and Directed by: Christopher J. Love

Producer: LaShanda Simmons-Calhoun

Cast: Koby Calhoun, Roman Vargas, Paula Velasquez

Bloom Room *U.S. Festival Premiere

In the midst of a global pandemic, a group of twenty-somethings explores the complexities of Black mental health and the bonds of chosen family in an online plant care community.

Canada | 8 min

Directors: Tristen Sutherland, Christian Anderson, Yasmijin Nicolle, Sochima Nwakaeze,  Ajhanis Charley

Writers: Tristen Sutherland, Christian Anderson, Yasmijin Nicolle, Sochima Nwakaeze,      Ajhanis Charley, Maryan Haye, Anthony Meeks, Yonas Ogubu

Producers: Alexx Bryant, Caleb Phillips, Anthony Jhade, Kelvin Omori, Rochelle Chambers, Funsho Elegbeleye

Executive Producers: Alison Duke, Ngardy Conteh George

Cast: Lane Webber, Brittany Miller, Blane Soloman, Jordan Henry

Buzz Kill *World Premiere

A charismatic and chubby Black queer millennial’s life is shaken up when romance, career and family issues collide.

USA | 15 min

Director: Jessie B. Evans

Writers: Jessie B. Evans, Terrance ‘Mo County’ Williams

Producers: Jessie B. Evans, Credere Joseph, Terrance ‘Mo County’ Williams

Cast: Terrance ‘Mo County’ Williams, Marcel J. Sawyer, Danielle Carter, Stewart Jewett, Christian Omari, Jessie B. Evans

Criblore: A Horror Anthology *World Premiere

An anthology series that follows a group of eccentric characters and their encounters with witches, werewolves, mermaids, trolls, and more.

USA | 14 min

Written and Directed by: Lucien Christian Adderley, Richard “Byrd” Wilson

Executive Producer: Moon Lee Ferguson (Creator of Series)

Cast: Terayle Hill, Brittany S. Hall

Dolla Van 

Two Trinidadian siblings, Jordana and Khalid, face challenges starting their own Flatbush Avenue dollar van service.

USA | 9 min

Director: Gabriel A. Tolliver

Writers: Gabriel A. Tolliver, Vinay Chowdry

Producers: Vinay Chowdry, Kecia Élan Cole, Kuye Youngblood

Cast: Jordana Persad, Khalid Hamid, Arthur Gregory Pugh, Walter T. Mudu

I Was a Soul Train Dancer 

“I Was a Soul Train Dancer” is a mini-docs series that profiles some of the most recognizable and memorable Soul Train dancers from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

USA | 11 min

Written and Directed by: Timiza Sanyika

Producer: Timiza Sanyika

Cast: Aretha Jackson, Larry “Bobcat” Jefferies

I‘ll Make You Better: Thomas Jules, Knicks Fan Counselor *U.S. Festival Premiere

An aspiring self-help guru tries to strengthen his reputation while not alienating his loyal clientele of rabid Knicks fans.

USA | 2 min

Director: Andrew Edghill

Writers: Andrew Edghill, Lee O. Valentin

Producer: Andrew Edghill

Cast: Lee O. Valentin

Love Trial *U.S. Festival Premiere

Two young Atlanta professionals hit it off fast, but find out rather quickly that finding love, and maintaining it — are two totally different journeys.

USA | 15 min

Written and Directed by: Brandon Henderson

Producers: Brandon Henderson, Ruben Ahortor

Cast: Kiah Alexandria, Brandon Henderson, Keon Mitchell, Christen Sharice,                          Tuki Daily, Phylicia Morgan

Shadowboxing – Round 1 *World Premiere

Andre desires to be the perfect boyfriend for the love of his life, Desi, but he struggles with         a secret…Sex Addiction.

USA | 15 min

Director: Mo McRae

Writer: Mustafa Speaks

Producers: Mustafa Speaks, Michelle Mitchenor, Mo McRae, Lex Scott Davis, Anna Notarides

Cast: Mustafa Speaks, Adriyan Rae, Diego Parada, Jerrell Pippens, Lex Scott Davis, Shakira Barrera

The Federation *World Premiere

Flex Incredible navigates the explosive world of professional wrestling in the 1990s, where the line between fantasy and reality is subjective in more ways than one.

USA | 15 min

Written and Directed by: Kola Olasiji

Producers: Kola Olasiji, Molly Neville Olasiji

Cast: Kola Olasiji, Miles Burris, Byron Hopkins

The Lesbian Homie 

A man tries to forget his recent past failed toxic situationship by pursuing another woman who he finds to have a lot of the same traits and attitude as the previous woman…..Deja Vu maybe?

USA | 10 min

Director: Jahdai Pickett

Writers: Jahdai Pickett, J. Antonio Figueroa

Producer: Dirty Chucks Entertainment

Cast: Jahdai Pickett, Stephanie Nelson, Kraig Smith, G. Wayne, Marche’ Howell,

Lisa Yaro, Marlin Minks, Ciera Angelia

The Table *World Premiere

The journey of London and Ed’s relationship is told over seven years primarily at their dining room table.

USA | 12 min

Directors: Caralene Robinson, Jamal Hodge, Crystal Whaley

Writers: Caralene Robinson, Nina Simone Moore

Producers: Caralene Robinson, Deborah Riley Draper, Crystal Whaley, DeDe Brown, Jamal Hodge

Cast: Devin Nelson, Brandon J. Shaw, Bevy Smith, Yvette Ganier

Third Wheel Material

When a perpetual third wheel struggles to find love and a sense of belonging, he decides to ask his two best friends, a couple, for help.

USA | 11 min

Director: Lyandre Pierre

Writer: Lyandre Pierre

Producers: Julian Park, Tezeta Solomon, Rickey Larke, Lyandre Pierre

Cast: Jerry Madison Jr., Charlotte Williams Roberts, Christian Robinson

Wallflower *World Premiere

When a shy teenage girl is gifted a family heirloom, it sparks the courage to live life on her own terms; but as she evolves and becomes unrecognizable to the people closest to her, she must decide who she wants to be.

Canada | 15 min

Director: Tristan Barrocks

Writers: Safia Bartholomew, Kern Carter

Producer: Leah Rifkin

Associate Producer: Corey Kareem

Cast: Kayla Kuhnke, Courtenay Field, Shirley Jackson, Romello Griffith, Ayan Elmi, Andrew James, Grace McDonald

Voices Of Culture

A noncompetitive section of narrative short films directed by persons of African descent.

The following films represent the 2023 official selections in this category:

Bizarro World *World Premiere

Six unrelated, humorous, absurd stories, shot in and around LA.

USA | 8 min

Directors: Jonathan Salmon, Abdi Ibrahim

Writers: Khari Johnson, Jonathan Salmon

Producer: Khari Johnson

Cast: James Chrosniak, Mark Mandia,Jonathan Salmon, Jak Knight, Upendo Moore, Nona P Johnson, Zack Fox, Tyree Norwood, Mekki Leeper, Khari Johnson, Felice Levair, Kate Hollowell, Matt Law

Blackifier *World Premiere

After watching an odd TV infomercial advertising a magical spray called blackifier, that when used can make anyone appear to be black to everyone else around them, Karen goes on a journey inside an alternate TV universe to see just how exciting the Black experience is.

USA | 15 min

Director: Christian Kamaal

Writer: Jalen Young

Producers: Cory Gorman, Jordan Shanks

Cast: Diane Sargent, Christopher Grossett, Chanda Wallace, TyNae Miller, Brandon James Somerville, Peace Ikediuba, Seth Carter, Michael Duisenberg

Burning Rubber *U.S. Festival Premiere

Down on his luck, Duane Ruiz is out of college and out of options and has to choose between his responsibilities or following his passion and competing in the high stakes, Burning Rubber Wallball tournament.

USA | 7 min

Director: Chris Fequiere

Writer: Dara King

Producers: Dara King, Amanda Miller

Cast: Dante Hoagland, Gorilla Nems, Alexandria Benford, Melvin Lee Douglas, Colin Ki/Kenny, Mike Smith Rivera, Oliver Fequiere

Chidera *World Premiere

A coming-of-age story of a teenage girl bound from birth to a higher calling; but as the traditional ceremony looms she struggles to choose between her destiny and the freedom she yearns.

USA | 18 min

Directors: Sope Aluko, Adaora Nwandu-Earl

Writers: Sope Aluko, Shola Dada

Producer: Sope Aluko

Cast: Sope Aluko, Courtney Williams, Dasan Frazier, Bridget John

Fifty-four Days

One girl’s grief drives her to extraordinary lengths.

UK | 18 min

Directors: Cat White, Phoebe Torrance

Writer: Cat White

Producer: Cat White

Cast: Cat White, Celia Imrie, Juliet Cowan, Delroy Brown, Josh Williams


Having recently lost his father, Rogelio (14) devises a plan to sneak into a strip club with his pals Larry and Chaz, as the night takes an unexpected turn.

USA | 18 min

Written and Directed by: Jocko Sims

Producers: Jocko Sims, Christopher Santiago, Chaz Hazlitt, Andrew Zolot

Cast: Josiah Santiago, Tristan-Lee Edwards, Giovani Cristoff, Angela Mejia-Loggia, Eliza Ramos

Love Taps *World Premiere

A young boy trying to cope with his parents separation gains a new perspective of his father after discovering his affair with another man.

USA | 14 min

Written and Directed by: Derrick Woodyard

Producers: Tara Sheffer, T. Bankolé

Executive Producer: Spike Lee

Cast: Rahim Barry, Parish Bradley, Emmanuel Kerry, Omrae Smith, Rayvon Southerland

Monochromatic *World Premiere

The inevitable moment a six-year-old girl realizes the world operates with bias when it comes to the color of her skin.

UK | 13 min

Written and Directed by: Karen Bryson

Producers: Lorraine Bhattachary,  Shakyra Dowling

Cast: Stephanie Levi John, Kenedy McCallam Martin, Elisha Robin

Oba *World Premiere

In an Afro-Futurist future, the King of a prominent Nigerian village has died. The Kingmakers select an unsuspecting boy from South London to ascend him.

UK | 11min

Written and Directed by: Femi Ladi

Producer: Ray Okudzeto

Cast: Samuel Adewunmi, Funke Adeleke, Philips Nortey, Richard Olátúndé Baker


Murphy, a young Black girl of Congolese descent, suffers from depression. In opposition to a particularly religious and superficial family, Murphy has no other choice to survive than to take refuge in her bed …

France | 19 min

Written and Directed by: Victoria Neto

Producers: Anais Lonkeu, Lena Bapt

Cast: Lorena Masikini, Pauline Mbaku, Pol White, Dorea Da Rozalia, Cindy Wadja

Port Of A Prince 

A young Haitian boy must decide if joining a gang is the right path for him.

USA/Haiti | 15 min

Written and Directed by: JR Aristide

Producers: Gilbert Mirambeau Jr., JR Aristide

Cast: Personna Wilensky, Guerrier Giovanni, Edmond Erthon, Rolando Etienne

Reunion *World Premiere

“Reunion” tells the story of what happens when a West African immigrant living in the Bronx discovers the child soldier who destroyed her family years ago is now a best-selling author living in NYC.

USA | 16 min

Directors: Zainab Jah, Tim Naylor

Writers: Tim Naylor, Zainab Jah

Producer: Djaka Souaré

Cast: Mayaa Boateng, Obi Abili

Somebody *World Premiere

As Jared contemplates ending his life, his plan is disrupted by a lost child seeking directions.

USA | 12 min

Director: JoJoe Earley

Writer: Ava Mone’t

Producer: Julio Mata Jr.

Cast: Kamil McFadden, Nyle Mckenzie

Speak Up Brotha!

After a brief encounter with an enigmatic woman in his car, a rideshare driver must learn to communicate in ways beyond his understanding to win her heart.

USA | 15 min

Director: Wes Andre Goodrich

Writers: Roderick Lawrence, Obbie West, James J. Johnson

Producers: Salma Qarnain, Roderick Lawrence, Dario Harris, Patrick Nichols

Executive Producers: Ron Gillyard, Will Campbell, Ike Mbanefo, Obbie West, Cameron Carr

Cast: Roderick Lawrence, T.C. Carson, Toni Lachelle Pollitt, Madeline Grey DeFreece, Alphonso Walker Jr., Justin Winley, Jaleeca Yancy

The Fairchild 

The new membership desk assistant at an exclusive museum becomes a special exhibit when staff and visitors obsess over him and his hair instead of the art on the walls.

USA | 15 min

Written and Directed by: Danny Rogers

Producers: Alyssa Katalyna, Celai Ahmadzai

Cast: Danny Rogers, Eric Davis, Sierra Marcks, Lauren Killer, Ben Newton, Hunter C. Smith, Susan Priver, Frank Poynton, Maria Brodeur, Aeron Macintyre

TikTok Challenged 

An elderly woman with Hollywood dreams enlists her grandson’s help to go viral on TikTok.

USA | 9 min

Written and Directed by: Ivan Rome

Producer: Yoko Kohmoto

Cast: Christine Smith, Thomas Walter Booker, Winter-Lee Holland, Kendel Rome

Welcome to Afrotree 

After being fed up with life in the city, Steven and Janet move to a gated community where all the residents are Black. But, they soon realize their dreams have become a nightmare.

USA | 21 min

Written and Directed by: Chase Parker

Writer: Chase Parker

Producers: Chase Parker, Greg Rhem

Cast: Charlie Q. Smith, Wilson Christopher, Tra’Lynn Husbands, Colin Pieters

Since its inception, the highly regarded American Black Film Festival has become a cornerstone for diversity in Hollywood. It has premiered the work and supported the careers of many of today’s most successful filmmakers, actors, writers and stand-up comedians, and is recognized as a standard-bearer of excellence for Black creativity.

ABFF sponsors and partners to date are Warner Bros. Discovery and HBO® (Founding); Andscape, Ally, Comcast NBCUniversal, Walmart, Cadillac (Presenting); City of Miami Beach, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), UPS, TV One Networks, Netflix, Meta, Prime Video (Major); American Airlines, IMDb, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Variety, YouTube Black Voices, Prudential Financial, ALLBLK, Bounce TV, OWN, Warner Bros. Television (Official); A&E Network, BET Media Group, Motion Picture Association (MPA), Confluential Films, Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Fulton Films GA, ESPN Films, Lionsgate (Supporting).

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