Stacey Abrams has been tapped to receive the inaugural Harry Belafonte Voices for Social Justice award as part of the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.
The new award named for Belafonte — the Emmy-winning actor, activist and civil rights leader — is intended to recognize individuals who have used storytelling and the arts to enact change in their communities.
Abrams, in addition to her work as a politician and voting rights activist, also produced last year’s gripping documentary “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” which illuminated America’s history of voter suppression. As such, Tribeca announced that Abrams will be honored for her “outstanding leadership, service and commitment to fighting against injustices through her work as a political leader, voting rights activist and novelist.”
“We are proud to salute the brilliant and inspiring actor, activist and friend, Harry Belafonte with this award created in his honor,’” said Tribeca Chief Content Officer, Paula Weinstein. “We are in awe of Stacey Abrams and her amazing work and unwavering commitment to fighting on behalf of our democracy and against injustices. We are thrilled for her to be the first recipient to begin the legacy of this award.”
After the success of “All In,” Abrams already has her next entertainment project in the works. News broke Monday that Abrams will adapt her latest novel “While Justice Sleeps” into a television series, produced by Working Title Television, part of NBCUniversal International Studios.
In addition to Abrams’ special honor, the film festival, presented by AT&T, also unveiled its Juneteenth lineup of special events and curated programming aimed at highlighting voices of the African Diaspora and celebrating Black stories and storytellers.
“The festival has always been a welcoming space for creators to share their stories and in support of artists through social activism,” said Jane Rosenthal, Tribeca Enterprises and Tribeca Festival co-founder and CEO. “I’m proud that this June, as part of our 20th anniversary, our programming is a powerful reflection of incredible storytellers that are deeply rooted in showcasing the rich legacy of the Black experience, all culminating on Juneteenth (June 19th).”
The programming, curated in partnership with Indeed, will be woven throughout the festival, with in-person events at outdoor venues across all five New York City boroughs, and some select programs made available through the Tribeca At Home platform.
Among the highlights for the Juneteenth program is the Tribeca Talks Black Filmmaker Foundation panel with Jelani Cobb, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Melina Matsoukas and Kasi Lemmons, moderated by the organization’s founder Warrington Hudlin. “Love and Basketball” director Gina Prince-Bythewood and star Sanaa Lathan will also reunite for a special “Tribeca Talks: Directors Series” panel during the fest. The cast of Robert Townsend’s 1991 musical drama “The Five Heartbeats” will also reunite for a special 30th anniversary screening and conversation. Grammy-winning singer Cécile McLorin Salvant is set for a discussion about her work for the upcoming animated film “Ogresse,” as well as a live performance accompanied by pianist Sullivan Fortner.
“From feature films, shorts, podcasts, and immersive experiences to talks with prominent industry leaders, we’re so proud of the incredible Juneteenth line-up this season,” said Loren Hammonds, vice president of immersive programming at Tribeca Festival.
“We are aiming to uplift and amplify the voices of today’s most exciting Black storytellers, artists, and creators and also to pay homage to those who have come before them,” Hammonds continued. “Juneteenth is a holiday of celebration and remembrance, and I sincerely hope that we’ve captured that spirit with this collection of work.”
Variety exclusively announced that Indeed would debut 10 short films by BIPOC filmmakers during the fest, as part of its “Rising Voices” partnership with Lena Waithe and her Hillman Grad Productions banner. Waithe will also join “The One and Only Dick Gregory” director Andre Gaines for a special conversation after the world premiere of the feature documentary (Waithe is an executive producer on the film).
Other world premieres in the lineup include the feature documentary “The Neutral Ground” from writer/director CJ Hunt and executive producer Roy Wood Jr.; the second season premiere of OWN’s “David Makes Man” from Tarell Alvin McCraney and showrunner Dee Harris-Lawrence; the A$AP Rocky-centered doc. “Stockholm Syndrome,” which explores the rapper’s life and career while fighting for his freedom after his 2019 arrest in Stockholm, Sweden; the documentary “Ferguson Rises,” directed by Mobolaji Olambiwonnu. The festival will also debut the AR-experience “Breonna’s Garden,” created by artist Lady PheOnix Ruach Shaddai in collaboration with Ju’Niyah Palmer to honor the life of her sister, Breonna Taylor.
Audible — Tribeca’s the first-ever exclusive audio entertainment sponsor — will host “7 Years: A Conversation With Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Zola Mashariki,” a panel discussing Trotter’s innovative audio production and the unique joy of Black storytelling, especially through song and story.
As part of Procter & Gamble’s “Widen the Screen” initiative, the festival will debut eight original films, including four documentaries from Queen collective (which returns for its third year at Tribeca) and four 8:46 films, a program that is new to the festival this year.
Special screenings, presented as part of the Black Cinema Revival, include “Selma,” “Just Another Girl on the IRT,” “Daughters of the Dust,” “The Last Dragon,” “He Got Game,” “Shaft,” “Dead Presidents” and “Love and Basketball.” The fest will also feature official selections from its 2020 edition (which was presented virtually), including “The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show,” “Stateless,” “Through the Night,” “Yusef Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn” and “She Paradise.”
The full Juneteenth line-up includes 19 in competition, out-of-competition, Tribeca At Home and anniversary films; six in competition shorts; four special out-of-competition shorts programs; two world premieres; 12 Tribeca Talks; eight other immersive projects and six podcasts.
Tickets for the festival, which runs June 9-20, are available for advance purchase at https://www.tribecafilm.com/festival/tickets and more information on Tribeca’s Juneteeth programming can be found here.
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