On Friday, Oct. 11, ABFF Ventures, LLC., announced that objects, photographs, documents and other memorabilia from The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) archives have been acquired by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The items will join the museums’ permanent collection and commemorate the ABFF’s rich 24-year history.
The American Black Film Festival (formerly Acapulco Black Film Festival), was first held in June 1997 by its originalfounders, Jeff Friday, Byron E. Lewis and Warrington Hudlin. In 2002, the Festival moved stateside to continue its commitment to community, providing a platform for up-and-coming filmmakers of color and bringing together creatives in appreciation of one another’s work, to challenge, encourage and uplift each other. ABFF is dedicated to recognizing black talent and showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent, and continues to be a vehicle to strengthen the black entertainment community by fostering resource sharing, education and artistic collaboration.
Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”), Stephen Caple, Jr. (“Creed II”), Will Packer (“Girls Trip”), Issa Rae (“Insecure”), Omari Hardwick (“Power”) and Kevin Hart (“Night School”), are among the beneficiaries of ABFF’s unique and prestigious talent pipeline programs designed to identify, introduce and showcase artists — including directors, actors, writers and other content creators — to the industry at large.
The museum has selected 10 American Black Film Festival artifacts to join its historical collection:
• Awards: ABFF Wood Trophy/Award designed by fine artist and sculptor Cheryl R. Riley, presented to Bill Duke in 1997 for Distinguished Career Achievement as a Filmmaker
• Documents: 1997 ABFF Program Guide, 1997 ABFF All Access Pass and VIP Pass, “Hav Plenty” VHS video tape (1997)
• Photographs: A collection of six (6) photographs of celebrity attendees by photographer Karl Crutchfield. Celebrities include Bill Duke, Halle Berry and Denzel Washington.
• Objects: Watch, Sterling Silver Necklace, Sterling Silver Bracelet. Items given to VIP attendees at the 1997 Festival. Recipients included: Debbie Allen, Morgan Freemen, Halle Berry and more.
These items were donated by Nicole and Jeff Friday.
“Recognizing the cultural significance and historical import of the long-standing American Black Film Festival, it is thrilling to have objects from ABFF join the museum’s permanent collection. For nearly a quarter century, ABFF has been at the forefront of celebrating the history and cultural value of African American storytelling and image-making, so receiving objects that highlight the vision and creative spirit of ABFF was deeply important,” said Rhea Combs, Supervisory Museum Curator of Photography & Film, Smithsonian, National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“Being a part of the NMAAHC’s prestigious collection of historical artifacts is an amazing honor and significant milestone for the ABFF. It brings a great sense of pride and excitement that ABFF’s legacy is recognized as an important piece of African American history and culture,” said Jeff Friday, ABFF Ventures CEO.
The American Black Film Festival has been helmed a “top Festival” by reputable media outlets, including One of the Coolest Festivals in the World by MovieMake Magazine; 10 Best Film Festivals by USA Today; Top 100 Events in Miami by BizBash Magazine and One of the Best Events Around the World by PROHBTD.
ABFF Ventures continues to expand the Festival programming initiatives and will grow its brand year-round to include the About Women Conference, ABFF Global Series (ABFF London debuted September 2019), ABFF Fit (Health and Wellness series) and ABFF Honors (annual awards show honoring Hollywood creatives).