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27 Feb 2011

Reelblack seeks greener pastures for African-American film, beginning with release of Ava DuVernay’s ‘I Will Follow’

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February 27, 2011 Category: Entertainment Posted by:

Reelblack, a major force in the promotion of African-American film in Philadelphia since 2003, is now part of an effort to see that quality independent film receives national visibility. The African American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM,) is a new theatrical distribution entity powered by the nation’s finest black film festival organizations. The collective will theatrically release quality independent African-American films through simultaneous limited engagements in select cities.


The first AFFRM release is the festival award-winning feature, I Will Follow. Starring Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Omari Hardwick, with Blair Underwood and Beverly Todd.


The film is an official selection of AFI Fest, Chicago International Film Festival, RiverRun Film Festival and winner of Urbanworld Film Festival for Narrative Audience Award. The film will have an exclusive theatrical engagement at the AMC Loews Cherry Hill 24 beginning March 11.


AFFRM is the brainchild of Film Industry veteran Ava DuVernay, who also wrote and directed I Will Follow.. Previously, she spent over 10 years serving as a marketing consultant for major Hollywood studios, including Warners and Dreamworks. “In essence, what we’re doing is empowering ourselves by distributing our own images. There are robust black film organizations all over the country. Our goal was to organize ourselves into a releasing entity, and our mission is to support black cinema in a very specific way – by offering a handful of black indies a theatrical release,” explained DuVernay. In addition to Reelblack, the four other partner festivals are The Urbanworld Film Festival/ Imagenation (NYC), The Pan African Film Festival (LA), The Langston Hughes Festival (Seattle) and The Bronzelens Film Festival (ATL).


“The advent of digital technology means more people are making films, but distributors are paying far less for the right to distribute them,” explains Reelblack founder Mike Dennis. “An artist might mortgage their house to finish their film, only to find video labels that want to own the copyright for barely five figures.”


“This truly is historic,” says Dennis. If we’re successful, it opens a door for filmmakers to maintain a serious financial stake for the life of their work.”


For more about AFFRM, visit

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