Along with recognizing both veterans and emerging black actors, directors and screenwriters in cinema, NY’s recent American Black Film Festival (ABFF) also recognized filmmakers who express their art through the internet in the newest filmmaking phenomenon – the webisode. As part of ABFF’s 3rd annual Webisode Challenge, this year, six webisodes were picked as finalist for the award.
The selected webisode finalists included a collage of works. A few where helmed by esteemed veterans in the game. One of the most popular was For Colored Boys, Redemption which was created and directed by Stacey Muhammad, and executive produced by Marc Lamont Hill. Starring Rob Morgan, Julito McCullum, Tim Reid and Jas Anderson, For Colored Boys takes inspiration from Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. Muhammad’s version focuses on a father released from prison and his struggle to fix a broken family.
Veteran actress, Vanessa Bell Calloway, executive produced In the Company of Friends. Starring Calloway and her husband Tony Calloway, it features the couple inviting celebrity friends over, like Wendy Raquel Robinson, for colorful conversation enhanced by food and cocktails.
The Therapist, a drama series about a marriage counselor with personal marital issues aside from the relationships of her clients, was written and directed by Geno Brooks and stars Nia Witts, Issac Keys, and Cherie Johnson of the hit TV series Family Matters.
And The Value of Ex, which was written, directed and produced by Bridgett Michele Lawrence, stars Constance Reese, David Spates and Donnabella Mortel. It deals with a woman who seeks out advice on how to deal with an ex’s return while engaged to another man.
Adding comedy, the webisode Make It Happen, produced by Beckir Sylvain and Marq Sears and directed by Lee Cipolla tells the story of Carl and Larry as they work to make it in Hollywood.
But this year’s winner of ABFF’s Webisode Challenge was Close Friends. Created by Ricky W. Jean Francois and Mckinson Souverain, it stars Julian Hanlan, Ashley Arielle, Austin Buda, Debie Obile, Nigel Hylton and Erica Nicole in a web series that follows twenty-something friends tested by life’s tribulations and struggles with trust, love, drugs, and everything in between.