Friday, June 01, 2007

70: San Francisco Black Film Festival

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As we all creep back in from the Memorial Day holiday, The A-List gives you the latest. Welcome, Kidz. Issue # 70


ABC PLAYERS SACKED...If you were waiting to check out the new ABC series "Football Wives," don't hold your breath. We just learned that this week, ABC decided not to even air the pilot--despite lots of buzz about the show. And it had a star-studded cast: Gabrielle Union (pictured), Holly Robinson Peete, and Ving Rhames. Some reports say ABC it didn't put the show on the fall lineup because there wasn't enough---get this--cash for the show's budget. Rumor also has it though that the network was skittish to focus on football players, who have not been seen in the best media light as of late, such as the Michael Vick dog fight scandal. So we asked Alison Rou, Vice President, Program Publicity over at the network, who would only tell us "We had many strong drama pilots and it simply didn't make it onto the schedule." Well, there seems to be major drama around the suspended drama. And unfortunately, we lose the possibility of a dramatic TV show with Black principals.

MEETING OF THE MINDS?...This is something we had to deliver our two cents on. Earlier this week, a coalition of women's groups reportedly headed to the offices of Viacom--parent co for BET and MTV, among others--to complain about what they feel are indecent lyrics and images on their airways. In the mix: Janice Mathis, southern regional director of Rainbow PUSH, and E. Faye Williams, exec director of the National Congress of Black Women (both are Viacom stockholders). But it's funny how selective and clique-ish even equality can be. FYI: The A-List reached out to such organizations like Rainbow PUSH to be the media partner for their push for broadcast diversity early this year. Heck, we even reached out to the Black Congressional Caucus, who quickly turned our idea down for a convention panel on new media and the lack of Black ownership in this arena. In our view, it ridiculous just going after lyrics and images without going for the exec power. When are these folks going to be ahead of the curve, instead of chasing it. Enough from us, here's another another expert's viewpoint. "A woman is the CEO of BET, but has that changed the playing of videos? No. There are women who are in positions of influence at the record labels, but has that changed the content? No. The issue of parity is one thing; this is completely different," says noted journalist and CNN contributor Roland S. Martin ( "If you go to a convenience store to buy a Playboy, it is covered up. Just putting a sticker on a CD isn’t all that has to be done with music. It still gets played in the marketplace. We as a society must fight sexism at every turn, even when it is being distributed by African Americans, and some are getting paid a few dollars." Valued readers, we'd love to hear your take.

KEYBOARD POWER...It's that time again--time for the
Last year, the first one ever, pulled in more than 100,000 votes from just under 80 countries, founder O. Linton tells The A-List. The awards highlight the best sites for Blacks. Among the categories are: "Most Important Site for Black People," "Most Original Site," "Best Male/Female Model, Actor or Entertainer Site," and "Best Site to Promote a Black Movie." So, how about putting a nom in for us as best blog? Go to and let you fingers do the talking.

GOT A PRO?...Ever wonder why you never seem to see Black experts being interviewed about the topics of the day? And if you do, it's the same folks over and over again. Well, a new online portal is hoping to erase any excuses producers and editors have about not being able to find talking heads of color. DiversityCityMedia has just launched It's an online directory of African-American speakers and experts. There are health, business, relationship, and financial experts as well as motivational speakers, doctors, lawyers. "The site was launched to allow African-American speakers, authors and experts to profile themselves in front of journalists, meeting planners, and themselves. This will help them get media interviews, paid speaking engagements, and more business," says Dante Lee, President/CEO Diversity City Media. "The fact is that you see the same black people (Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, T.D. Jakes, etc) on every news channel. You also see the same black speakers speaking at various conferences. This situation will change now that exists!" It will cost experts an annual fee to be listed, but says Lee they don't take just anyone. "We do have the right to reject individuals who we feel don't qualify." If is a hit we may just see a few new expert faces in the media.

LITERATI ALERT...Get this. There's a new reality show being developed for the literary set--but it won't be on TV. "'The Ultimate Author' is being billed as the first online reality show specifically programmed for the Internet," says Lauren Spicer, Executive Producer, Von Enterprises International, Inc. "I was trying to pitch the show to various networks, but their schedules are full. Most of them noted that they are moving in the direction of putting all of their content on the web. It was logical for us to move in that direction as well. The show will be broadcast on Beginning in the fall of 2008, it will air on UrbanViewTV as well." Now Spicer is set to have an open call for authors on June 16 in Fort Lauderdale for avid readers, aspiring writers, published authors and journalists from every age range and ethnicity who will vie for a book deal. In all there will be eight episodes. Says Spicer, "My goal is to get young people reading and enjoying this form of entertainment. They need to realize that there is more drama between the pages of most books than a one-hour drama on television. I'm hoping that this show will reveal that there is a lot more to authors than men and women behind a computer typing all day. They are vibrant, interesting and exciting people with awesome stories to tell."

CINEMATIC CHARITY...We had to tell you about a new, non-profit organization called Make A Film Foundation (MAFF). It pairs young people diagnosed with critical or terminal illness with industry professionals who mentor and facilitate their vision as they create five-minute film legacies. The goal of MAFF is to provide young people marginalized by illness with the tools, resources and guidance to reclaim the media and give them a voice just backed its first short, Put It In A Book directed by Emmy nominated director Rodrigo Garcia (Nine Lives, Sopranos). Jabril Muhammad, who has sickle cell anemia, co-wrote with Don D. Scott (Barbershop, Barbershop 2) on a film inspired by his life. Muhammad will star in Put It In a Book. Actor Isaiah Washington is serving as his mentor/acting coach. MAFF ( was founded in 2006 by filmmakers Tamika Lamison and Sarah Elgart. "[We] came together to build this foundation when they recognized that critically and terminally ill young people [21 years old and under] spend inordinate amounts of time watching TV and feeling marginalized," Lamison and Elgart tell The A-List. "We felt that they could create the opportunity to help these youth share their stories and visions on an amazing scale by teaming them with industry professionals." The pair put out the call for help, and Hollywood answered. "The response from Hollywood and the community in general has been overwhelmingly positive," says Lamison and Elgart. "Everyone who we have reached out to has been incredibly generous and gracious with their time. Many people have volunteered/offered their time and/or goods and services before we've even asked." Make A Film seems to making dreams come true.

CALL FOR ENTRIES...The National Black Programmers Consortium (NBPC) is seeking contemporary films on the African American and African Diaspora experience for the National PBS Schedule. Applications for research and development, production, and post-production are now being accepted at Awards range from $1,000 to $80,000. Deadline: June 1st. To find out more about the NBPC, read our profile on them at


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Earlier this week, The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced the nominations for outstanding drama, comedy, variety and children's original programming for broadband, specifically computers, cell phones and other handheld devices. For the first time, the organization teamed with to solicit nominations from the public, resulting in the recognition of independent productions, as well as programs created by traditional TV networks. And it is only the second year the New York-based Academy (NATAS) has honored programs created for high-speed Internet, or broadband, connections. Last year, the first broadband Emmy was awarded to AOL for its 2005 Webcast of the worldwide "Live 8" concert. But the awards are the subject of a dispute between NATAS and the Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which produces the Primetime Emmy Awards. The latter has advocated for a more deliberate approach to honoring Web-based programming, and the disagreement is the subject of a court battle. The awards for broadband programming will be handed out June 14 ceremony, and the Daytime Emmy Awards will be broadcast live on June 15.



The San Francisco Black Film Festival (SFBFF) was started with a dollar and a dream. Well actually $3,000. But when Ave Montague realized the void in festivals for African-American films in the city, she got to work and created one. The first African-American festival in San Francisco. That was in 1998. Today, the festival celebrates African-American cinema and the African cultural Diaspora and showcases a diverse collection of films from emerging and established filmmakers. And the goal of SFBFF isn't merely to highlight Black film--it aims to bridge cultural gaps. According to the festival's mission statement: "SFBFF believes film can lead to a better understanding of and communication between, peoples of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles, while simultaneously serving as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times."

To find out more about how the SFBFF plans to make this--and other things happen--we got the answers from Montague.

The A-List: What prompted the launch on the film festival?
Ave Montague: San Francisco has many ethnic film festivals including Italian, Jewish, Asian even Native American, but there was no Black Film Festival. In 1998 with only $3,000 in funding, I created the San Francisco Black Film Festival (SFBFF) (formerly The Juneteenth Film Festival), which has grown from a one-day event with an audience of 300 to an eight-day cultural celebration drawing several thousand attendees.

AL: What is new for this year?
AM: We’re collaborating with several organizations including the SF International Latino Film Festival, The German Consulate, the Consul General of Ireland and the Black Coalition on AIDS, a film and music conference.

AL: What makes this film festival so unique?
AM: [Just] being in San Francisco.

AL: How many films will you show this year?

AM: 84 out of 175 submissions.

: Have many deals been brokered the festival?

AM: I don’t know how many deals have been brokered, but several films that have premiered here have been picked up by HBO, Showtime and video distributors. Mateen Kemet, the ONLY Black finalist "On The Lot" is a member of the SFBFF Advisory Board. He premiered his film, Silence, at the festival four years ago.

AL: How would you describe the overall vibe of the festival?
AM: Young, hip, multi-ethnic, lots of energy. We draw real serious film buffs. San Francisco is the #5 film market in the United States. Film festivals are serious business. It's not about glitz and glamour. If a celebrity is involved, great, but it's not necessary.

AL: What advise would you give to filmmakers?
AM: If a festival doesn’t accept your project the first time, don’t feel rejected. Continue to submit projects. Edit, edit, edit. Some films are entirely too long. Less is more
. Good marketing materials and a well-written synopsis.


What: The San Francisco Black Film Festival

When: June 7-Jun16

Where: San Francisco