November 28, 2013

By Zenitha Prince

Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper


Actor Morris Chestnut will be the face of the 18th annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF), which will be held June 19-22, 2014, in New York City, officials announced recently.

“It’s an honor and privilege to be the ambassador of the ABFF, taking place this year in New York – a city that has inspired and cultivated so much great talent in all areas of film,” Chestnut said in a statement.

As ambassador of the festival, Chestnut, of Best Man and Best Man Holiday fame, will help to promote the four-day event, which showcases films by and about people of African descent.

Author/producer Tonya Lewis Lee (The Watsons Go to Birmingham) will serve as the festival’s Host Committee chair.

Jeff Friday, ABFF founder and CEO of Film Life, which produces the festival, said both Chestnut and Lee are bright lights in the Black film industry and will be able representatives of the event.

“Morris Chestnut is a beloved and charismatic actor,” Friday said in a statement. “The role of the ABFF Ambassador is to broaden public awareness of the festival as well as its mission, and you are about to see Morris everywhere with [the recent] release of The Best Man Holiday – a must-see!”

He added, “I deeply appreciate both Morris and Tonya’s commitment to advance opportunities for Black artists in our industry.”

In 1997, Friday conceived the ABFF as a means of opening up doors of opportunity for Black creators and actors in the television and film industry, which has been slow to diversify its ranks. Now, the event is considered a major channel for Black actors and directors to get a foothold into Hollywood.

The festival will be comprised of Hollywood premieres, indie films, a new Entertainment and Lifestyle Expo, celebrity conversations, master classes, film- and TV-focused panels, plus a comedy show and parties.

Friday said that with the slate of events and the moves to New York, he expects 30,000 visitors this year.

“It’s going to be a great year,” he said.

For a schedule of events, other information and tickets, visit:

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

November 28, 2013

City New Service


The historical drama ``12 Years a Slave'' earned a leading seven nominations this week for the 29th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards, while the father-son road trip comedy-drama ``Nebraska'' collected six.

The films were both nominated for best feature, along with Robert Redford's maritime drama ``All is Lost,'' the Noah Baumbach comedy-drama ``Frances Ha'' and the Coen brothers' folk-music tale ``Inside Llewyn Davis.''

The Spirit Awards, which recognize artistic films made with limited budgets, will be presented March 1 during a luncheon in a tent near the beach in Santa Monica. Actor Patton Oswald will host the event.

``12 Years a Slave'' director Steve McQueen earned a nod for best director, along with Jeff Nichols for ``Mud,'' Alexander Payne for ``Nebraska,'' Shane Carruth for ``Upstream Color'' and J.C. Chandor for ``All is Lost.''

Bruce Dern was nominated for best actor for ``Nebraska,'' as were Chiwetel Ejiofor for ``12 Years a Slave,'' Oscar Isaac for ``Inside Llewyn Davis,'' Michael B. Jordan for ``Fruitvale Station,'' Matthew McConaughey for ``Dallas Buyers Club'' and Redford for ``All is Lost.''

Nominated for best actress were Cate Blanchett for ``Blue Jasmine,''

Julie Delpy for ``Before Midnight,'' Gaby Hoffman for ``Crystal Fairy,'' Brie Larson for ``Short Term 12'' and Shailene Woodley for ``The Spectacular Now.''

``Mud,'' the story of a stranger who's arrival shakes up the lives of two teenage boys in a small Arkansas town, will receive the Robert Altman Award, which honors a film's director, casting director and ensemble cast.

``The nominations this year are from such an amazing pool of talented

film artists,'' according to Josh Welsh, president of Film Independent. ``Their work demonstrates the deep originality and uniqueness of vision that are at the heart of independent film. At Film Independent, we work all year round to promote that spirit, and the nominees celebrated here today are tremendous ambassadors for their crafts, both in front of and behind the camera.''

Here is a complete list of nominees:


   BEST FEATURE (Award given to the Producer, Executive Producers are not


• ``12 Years a Slave,'' PRODUCERS: Dede Gardner, Anthony Katagas,

Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Brad Pitt, Bill Pohlad

• ``All Is Lost,'' PRODUCERS: Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb

• ``Frances Ha,'' PRODUCERS: Noah Baumbach, Scott Rudin, Rodrigo

Teixeira, Lila Yacoub

• ``Inside Llewyn Davis,'' PRODUCERS: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott


• ``Nebraska,'' PRODUCERS: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa



• Shane Carruth, ``Upstream Color''

• J.C. Chandor, ``All Is Lost''

• Steve McQueen, ``12 Years a Slave''

• Jeff Nichols, ``Mud''

• Alexander Payne, ``Nebraska''



• Woody Allen, ``Blue Jasmine''

• Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater, ``Before Midnight''

• Nicole Holofcener, ``Enough Said''

• Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, ``The Spectacular Now''

• John Ridley, ``12 Years a Slave''


BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)

• ``Blue Caprice,'' DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Alexandre Moors; PRODUCERS: Kim

Jackson, Brian O'Carroll, Isen Robbins, Will Rowbotham, Ron Simons, Aimee

Schoof, Stephen Tedeschi

• ``Concussion,'' DIRECTOR: Stacie Passon; PRODUCER: Rose Troche

• ``Fruitvale Station,'' DIRECTOR: Ryan Coogler; PRODUCERS: Nina Yang

Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker

• ``Una Noche,'' DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Lucy Mulloy; PRODUCERS: Sandy Perez

Aguila, Maite Artieda, Daniel Mulloy, Yunior Santiago

• ``Wadjda,'' DIRECTOR: Haifaa Al Mansour; PRODUCERS: Gerhard Meixner,

Roman Paul



• Lake Bell, ``In A World''

• Joseph Gordon-Levitt, ``Don Jon''

• Bob Nelson, ``Nebraska''

• Jill Soloway, ``Afternoon Delight''

• Michael Starrbury, ``The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete''


   JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD - Given to the best feature made for under

$500,000. Award given to the writer, director, and producer. Executive

Producers are not awarded.

• ``Computer Chess,'' WRITER/DIRECTOR: Andrew Bujalski; PRODUCERS:

Houston King  Alex Lipschultz

• ``Crystal Fairy,'' WRITER/DIRECTOR: Sebastian Silva; PRODUCERS: Juan

de Dios Larrain  Pablo Larrain

• ``Museum Hours,'' WRITER/DIRECTOR: Jem Cohen; PRODUCERS: Paolo

Calamita  Gabriele Kranzelbinder

• ``Pit Stop,'' WRITER/DIRECTOR: Yen Tan; WRITER: David Lowery;

PRODUCERS: Jonathan Duffy, James M. Johnston,

   Eric Steele, Kelly Williams

• ``This is Martin Bonner,'' WRITER/DIRECTOR: Chad Hartigan; PRODUCER:

Cherie Saulter



• Cate Blanchett, ``Blue Jasmine''

• Julie Delpy, ``Before Midnight''

• Gaby Hoffmann, ``Crystal Fairy''

• Brie Larson, ``Short Term 12''

• Shailene Woodley, ``The Spectacular Now''



• Bruce Dern, ``Nebraska''

• Chiwetel Ejiofor, ``12 Years a Slave''

• Oscar Isaac, ``Inside Llewyn Davis''

• Michael B. Jordan, ``Fruitvale Station''

• Matthew McConaughey, ``Dallas Buyers Club''

• Robert Redford, ``All Is Lost''



• Melonie Diaz, ``Fruitvale Station''

• Sally Hawkins, ``Blue Jasmine''

• Lupita Nyong'o, ``12 Years a Slave''

• Yolonda Ross, ``Go For Sisters''

• June Squibb, ``Nebraska''



• Michael Fassbender, ``12 Years a Slave''

• Will Forte, ``Nebraska''

• James Gandolfini, ``Enough Said''

• Jared Leto, ``Dallas Buyers Club''

• Keith Stanfield, ``Short Term 12''



• Sean Bobbitt, ``12 Years a Slave''

• Benoit Debie, ``Spring Breakers''

• Bruno Delbonnel, ``Inside Llewyn Davis''

• Frank G. DeMarco, ``All Is Lost''

• Matthias Grunsky, ``Computer Chess''



• Shane Carruth, David Lowery, ``Upstream Color''

• Jem Cohen, Marc Vives, ``Museum Hours''

• Jennifer Lame, ``Frances Ha''

• Cindy Lee, ``Una Noche''

• Nat Sanders, ``Short Term 12''


BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)

• ``20 Feet From Stardom,'' DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Morgan Neville;

PRODUCERS: Gil Friesen, Caitrin Rogers

• ``After Tiller,'' DIRECTORS/PRODUCERS: Martha Shane, Lana Wilson

• ``Gideon's Army,'' DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Dawn Porter; PRODUCER: Julie


• ``The Act of Killing,'' DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Joshua Oppenheimer;

PRODUCERS: Joram Ten Brink, Christine Cynn, Anne Kohncke, Signe Byrge Sorensen,

Michael Uwemedimo

• ``The Square,'' DIRECTOR: Jehane Noujaim; PRODUCER: Karim Amer


BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)

• ``A Touch of Sin,'' (China); DIRECTOR: Jia Zhang-Ke

• ``Blue is the Warmest Color,'' (France); DIRECTOR: Abdellatif


• ``Gloria,'' (Chile); DIRECTOR: Sebastian Lelio

• ``The Great Beauty,'' (Italy); DIRECTOR: Paolo Sorrentino

• ``The Hunt,'' (Denmark); DIRECTOR: Thomas Vinterberg


ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD - (Given to one film's director, casting director, and its

ensemble cast)

   -- ``Mud,'' Director: Jeff Nichols; Casting Director: Francine Maisler;

Ensemble Cast:  Joe Don Baker, Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey, Ray

McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Sam Shepard, Tye Sheridan, Paul

Sparks, Bonnie Sturdivant, Reese Witherspoon


17th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD - The 17th annual Producers Award,

sponsored by Piaget, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited

resources demonstrate the creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce

quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant

funded by Piaget.

• Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston

• Jacob Jaffke

• Andrea Roa

• Frederick Thornton


20th ANNUAL SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD - The 20th annual Someone to Watch Award

recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received

appropriate recognition.

• ``My Sister's Quinceanera,'' DIRECTOR: Aaron Douglas Johnston

• ``Newlyweeds,'' DIRECTOR: Shaka King

• ``The Foxy Merkins,'' DIRECTOR: Madeline Olnek



Than Fiction Award, sponsored by Stella Artois, is presented to an emerging

director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant

recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

• Kalyanee Mam, ``A River Changes Course''

• Jason Osder, ``Let the Fire Burn''

• Stephanie Spray, Pacho Velez, ``Manakamana''

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

November 28, 2013

By Princess Manasseh

LAWT Contributing Writer


On the eve of the LA Auto Show, Lincoln Motor Company and Automotive Rhythms joined forces to present An Evening of Style, giving invitees a first look at the all-new 2015 Lincoln MKC small premium utility vehicle.

A celebration of style, luxury, innovation, and design, the evening was hosted by actress, Nia Long.  Siren Studios Orange in Los Angeles provided the backdrop for the exclusive soiree where Hollywood stars, celebrity bloggers, and industry professionals came out to enjoy the festivities. 

Automotive Rhythms, a multi-national lifestyle firm known for blending automotive evaluations with music and fashion, put together a unique showcase of Lincoln’s compact crossover Thursday evening, mixing elements of culture, music, and fashion with the MKC’s unveiling. 

In stunning evening gowns, models surrounded the vehicle, which sat under runway lights for a demonstration of “illuminated high fashion.”  Music filled the air as two acts – the neo-funk soul band, Black Waat3r and DJ B.Hen – took their turns entertaining the crowd rhythmically.

Long – most recently remembered for her role in “The Best Man Holiday,” was an enchanting host posing with guests before hitting the stage and telling of her experience riding over in the brand new Lincoln MKC.  Long confessed to the crowd her love of luxury and remarked that the Lincoln’s unique ambient lighting made her makeup final touches “a breeze.”    

Guests were able to get up close and personal with the MKC, checking out the interior and snapping photos from inside, many of which were published to the event’s “interactive photo booth.” A large flat screen TV displayed photos taken by guests in real time; those posted with the hashtag LincolnJourney to social media sites like Twitter and Instagram.

Long also brought out a number of her car-loving celebrity friends, one of which included actor, Pooch Hall, formerly of the hit television series, The Game.

“I’m here supporting my girl Nia, and having a good time,” said Hall, who admittedly loves fast cars told the Sentinel.  “I’m also looking forward to the Auto Show,” said Hall of the LA Auto Show, which opened to the public the following day Friday, November 22. 

Actor Dylan Mooney of the upcoming thriller “Unreported” was another guest at the Lincoln event with plans to attend the auto show. “This is a great kickoff event. I’m a fan of exquisite cars so I can’t wait to see what new innovations the market has to offer this weekend at the auto show,” he told us.  

The start of the LA Auto Show marks the beginning of auto show season in the United States.  Running through December 1, the LA Auto show spans more than 870,000 square feet and brings together all the major players in the auto industry.  With the goal of “unveiling the future of mobility” the auto show showcases all of the auto industry’s latest models and prototypes as well. 

Lincoln’s MKC will face stiff competition vying for sales against other premium compact crossover vehicles such as the Audi Q5, Acura RDX, and the BMW X5. The release of the MKC was a wise move on the part of Lincoln Motors as sales of smaller more compact luxury SUV’s have increased steadily in recent years.

Consumers can check out these compact crossovers as well as a wide array of other vehicles at the auto show being held in downtown Los Angeles at the convention center. 

For more details or to purchase tickets visit

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

November 28, 2013

City News Service


On Thursday, December 12, 2013, a galaxy of stars will join acclaimed director/choreographer Debbie Allen to raise funds for the non-­‐profit Debbie Allen Dance Academy (DADA) and its city, statewide and international initiatives to fill the much needed void in Arts Education.

Among those slated to perform at Debbie Allen Dance Academy’s “ALL-STAR GALA” are: R&B superstars Chaka Khan and James Ingram; Latin jazz great Arturo Sandoval; actresses Chandra Wilson (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Tichina Arnold (“Everybody Hates Chris”), and comedians Sinbad and Tommy Davidson. The event also features performances from the American Ballet Theatre and the exceptional DADA Ensemble. “The Tonight Show’s” Rickey Minor directs the music.

Denzel Washington and Debbie Allen host this evening of stellar performances at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus, 10745 Dickson Plaza, Los Angeles, CA at 8:00pm. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster or by calling (310) 202-1711. Proceeds will benefit the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, which offers arts education for youth in the greater Los Angeles area.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

November 21, 2013

LAWT News Service


(Durham, NC) — Grammy-Award winning artist and activist John Legend launched a partnership with the NAACP to promote voting rights efforts across the country and help register eligible concert goers to vote. The partnership kicked off at John’s concert in Durham, North Carolina, where he asked his fans to join him in taking a stand for voting rights by texting “LEGEND” to 62227.  He will continue to raise awareness about the issue at several additional tour stops throughout the South. 

“It is maddening to know that there are some who would enact legislation that limits the ability of some Americans to exercise their right to vote,” said Legend “Generations have fought hard and even died for this right, and now is not the time for our country to move backwards.  All of our leaders should seek to have inclusive elections that reflect the true will of the people, no matter who they intend to vote for.  The politics of exclusion are unacceptable.  It's time for all of us who believe in democracy and equal rights to take a stand.”

Interim NAACP President Lorraine C. Miller expressed her enthusiasm about the partnership: “We are excited that John Legend has joined with the NAACP in the fight to defend the right to vote. His influence as a world-renowned artist and activist will be a catalyst to spread the word that it is not enough just to exercise your right to vote. We must also protect our right to vote for future generations.”

In July 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated a portion of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act that defines which states with a history of voter discrimination must receive federal approval before changing election laws.

Due to national and state level work, the NAACP was able to fight several laws in 2012 and mobilized 1.2 million people to the polls on or before Election Day.

“The Supreme Court ruling this summer opened up the floodgates for states to pass more discriminatory laws,” Jotaka Eaddy, Senior Director, Voting Rights and Senior Advisor to the President and CEO. “Our goal is to empower voters to urge their members of Congress to restore Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. This partnership takes us one step closer towards reaching that goal.”

On the North Carolina launch, Reverend William Barber, President, NAACP North Carolina State Conference, stated, “Launching in North Carolina, a state feeling the brunt of new restrictive and discriminatory election laws, will set the tone for concert goers across the country in states where some of the most egregious law changes have been introduced or implemented. As in the past once again we need the melodies of freedom and justice to inspire movement.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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