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A Miami native hopes to win at the 26th American Black Film Festival

Aurinko in Adagio by Elisee Junior St Preux .png
Screenshot from short film Aurinko in Adagio
"Aurinko in Adagio" is a short film by Miami-based filmmaker Elisee Junior St Preux, one of five finalists for the HBO short film showcase at the American Black Film Festival.

The preeminent 26th American Black Film Festival in Miami is once again on its mission to create space for untold Black stories. Cinephiles and casual observers from across the country are back to lay eyes on nearly 50 Black narrative feature premieres, documentaries and episodic TV and web series screenings. But ABFF isn’t just showcasing full-length feature films.

The festival announced the finalists competing for its 25th HBO Short Film Award showcase. And one director from Miami hopes to win it all.

Miami-based filmmaker Elisee Junior St Preux is one of five finalists for the HBO short film showcase at the festival. His film, Aurinko in Adagio, weaves through fatherhood, music, and ancestral dreaming.

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St Preux said whoever wins the competitive short film category is winning for the state of Black filmmaking and its various, ever-evolving perspectives on the human condition.

“We are expanding into everything. I mean, we’re in comedy, we’re in horror, we’re in thriller, we’re in the romance, we’re in the dramas,” Preux said. “Black stories are being celebrated. I think we are also being given the opportunities we weren’t given before. So I would say it’s a Black renaissance.”

Filmmakers competing in the short film category include Rebecca Usoro (The Family Meeting), Destiny J. Macon (Talk Black), Sherif Alabede (Another Country), and Gia-Rayne Harris (Pens & Pencils).

Prior winners include award-winning directors Ryan Coogler and Steven Caple Jr. The prestigious short film showcase, presented by Warner Bros. Discovery, and HBO, includes $10,000 to the winner and $5,000 for each of the finalists.

“We need festivals that hone into Black filmmakers,” Preux said. “No. 1: It’s very important for us to be seen.”

The hybrid festival will host its in-person events in Miami from June 15 to 19. Virtual events start June 20 on its online film platform. HBO will announce the winner during an ABFF presentation on Saturday, June 18.

ABFF 2022 Talent Lineup FINAL.jpg
American Black Film Festival
2022 talent line-up for the American Black Film Festival in Miami, Florida.

Most of the buzz of the festival is centered around its 10 spotlight screenings.

Issa Rae is the 2022 Festival Ambassador. The writer / producer / actress / director is fresh from her breakout HBO comedy-drama, Insecure.

Rae is gifting fans with a Miami-based series called Rap Sh!t. The comedy follows two women rappers who are trying to make it into male dominated hip-hop. Miami-based duo City Girls, Yung Miami and JT, were also tapped as co-executive producers. Insecure's Syreeta Singleton will serve as showrunner.

CIVIL, a Netflix documentary, is the festival's opening night film. It explores the life of civil rights attorney Ben Crump, directed and produced by filmmaker Nadia Hallgren and produced by Kenya Barris, Roger Ross Williams and Lauren Cioffi.

And, as one of the 10 spotlight screenings, LeBron James’ The SpringHill Company will showcase After Jackie, a film by Stanley Nelson and Andre Gaines that explores Black baseball pioneers after Jackie Robinson.

ABFF also includes a “noncompetitive” category of short films by people of African descent.

In a statement, Jeff Friday, founder and CEO ABFF Ventures LLC, says the festival is an “unparalleled resource for studios, networks and streamers to promote and publicize their upcoming releases to Black audiences.”

Wilkine Brutus is a reporter and producer for WLRN and a guest faculty member at the Poynter Institute. The South Florida native produces stories on topics surrounding local news, culture, art, politics and current affairs.