Running from July 6th through the 9th, the 2011 installment of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) officially kicked of this year’s festivities last night, after extensive prep work and despite a dismal cloudy, rainy weather forecast for much of the week, and into the weekend.

Now in its 15th year, the festival has matured quite a bit and grown to become on the the most prestigious black film festivals in the world, under the guidance of co-founder Jeff Friday, and his diligent, hard-working team.

As usual, the festival opened with welcome speeches, and state of the industry remarks from Jeff Friday, as well as representatives from its premiere sponsors, all exalting the festival’s rise to prominence, and its contributions to the Miami community.

Following those early talks was the festival’s opening night film – a drama titled In The Hive, which was produced and directed by Robert Townsend, and stars Michael Clarke Duncan, Loretta Devine, Vivica A. Fox and Jonathan “Lil J” McDaniel (That’s So Raven).

Photos you see here are from last night’s opening festivities.

In addition to the two narrative features and documentary competition categories, ABFF will also present four out-of-competition films as well as five sponsored screenings.

In total, the festival will screen 24 films, shorts, features and documentaries, leading up to a closing night awards ceremony with trophies handed out in the major categories – best film, best director, best screenplay, and best actors.

Some festival highlights include:

•    15th Annual ABFF Honors – Special Tribute to Director/Producer, Keenen Ivory Wayans.

•    ABFF Remembers: Boyz N’ the Hood on its 20th Anniversary – Screening of a 27 minute documentary on the making of the film followed by Q&A with Oscar nominated writer/director John Singleton.

•    The return of the Pro-Hollywood Workshop (PHI)—a workshop for professional athletes looking for a comprehensive overview of the creative and business disciplines related to the film industry.

•    A Conversation with Paula Patton.

•    15th Annual ABFF Honors hosted by Anthony Anderson and Regina King.

… and much more.

For the full lineup, pass and ticket information, visit the festival’s website here:

Tambay Obenson is editor of Shadow And Act on the indieWIRE Network at

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