Black Film Festival 2020: Bailey’s Basketball Drama Curtis–Top Winner

The 24th American Black Film Festival in Miami Beach has wrapped its virtual edition, with Chris Bailey’s basketball drama Curtis picking up the best U.S. narrative feature prize.

Bailey’s drama stars Dwight Henry as a former basketball star searching the streets of Detroit for his lost championship ring as he battles mental illness.

The audience favorite award went to Khaled Ridgeway’s comedy drama Death of A Telemarketer, which follows Lamorne Morris’ telephone salesman as he’s held hostage after attempting to con a man to win an employee sales contest. Jackie Earle Haley, Alisha Wainwright and Haley Joel Osment also star in Ridgeway’s indie.

During other jury competition prize-giving on Sunday evening, the best director trophy went to Hisonni Johnson for her indie drug drama Take Out Girl, while the best first feature award went to Solomon Onita, Jr. for his immigrant drama Tazmanian Devil.

The American Black Film Festival jury also gave its best screenplay trophy to Addison Henderson for the apocalyptic sci-fi tale G.O.D – Givers of Death, while the best international narrative feature award went to Nigerian director Teniola Olatoni’s The New Normal. The best documentary prize went to Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back, directed by John Carluccio.

This year’s digital festival program, which ran from Aug. 21-30, featured projects across competitive categories including U.S. narrative, international narrative, documentary features, web series and HBO short film.

Presenters at the virtual awards show, hosted by Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker , included Spike Lee, Lee Daniels, Laz Alonso, Bevy Smith, Logan Browning, Sinqua Walls and La La Anthony.

The in-person American Black Festival in Miami Beach was originally set to run over five days from Oct. 21 to 25, but was forced by the Coronavirus pandemic to go digital. Most of the programming for the online edition was offered for free, and Mary J. Blige served as this year’s festival ambassador.