Black Filmmakers and Screenwriters Honored at First Annual Hollywood Black Film Festival

Posted on February 25, 1999

Filmmakers were honored for their achievements in filmmaking and screenwriting during closing ceremonies Sunday for the Hollywood Black Film Festival (HBFF). The festival, HBFF's first annual competitive event for black filmmakers, was held at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television Feb. 19-21 at USC and at the neighboring Flagship Theatres. The three-day inaugural HBFF program included screenings of 18 short films, six feature films, and two student films in its competitive competitions with awards in each category.

HBFF also recognized the achievements of documentary filmmakers and screenwriters in separate competitions. The HBFF Jury Award for Narratives (feature film) was won by Love Goggles, directed and written by Anthony Travis. The urban love story, which had its world premiere at HBFF, chronicles the misadventures of two friends in New York City searching for love and understanding. Travis, who is represented by the William Morris Agency, said he next begins production on a love story titled Sweet November.

The Second Place HBFF Jury Award for Narratives went to director Nate Thomas for East of Hope Street, written by Thomas and Tim Russ. East of Hope Street, which had its Los Angeles premiere at HBFF, is a gritty, urban story of a teen-age Latina struggling to survive the abuses of home, the inner city and L.A.'s overburdened social services system.

Divided We Stand, directed and written by J.R. Jackson Jr., took the Third Place HBFF Jury Award for Narratives. In "Divided," a college student sets out to expose the truth behind a rape accusation that has polarized the student body.

In the HBFF Jury Award for Shorts Competition, First Place went to Letter to My Mother, directed and written by Debbi Reynolds. In the film, a young woman finds a letter that unlocks the secrets behind her tragic childhood. Second Place was won by Kings, directed and written by Niva Dorell, which had its World Premiere at HBFF. In Kings, a young black attorney's eminent success presents the challenge of embracing his roots or turning his back on them forever.

The Hollywood Black Film Festival, a nonprofit organization, was established to enhance the careers of emerging and established filmmakers (directors and writers) from the U.S. and Canadian Black Diaspora through public exhibition and competition of their films, and to bring independent works by black filmmakers to Southern California audiences.