Will Smith’s ‘King Richard’ To Open American Black Film Festival

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The American Black Film Festival is pulling out all the stops for its 25th anniversary. The world-renowned celebration of Black creatives will open with screenings of the highly-anticipated film, King Richard. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, ABFF has put together a digital experience that will highlight King Richard and several other Black films via ABFF Play from November 3 through November 28. A special screening of the highly-anticipated picture will also be made available to a limited audience.

“It is with pride and excitement that we mark our 25th year opening with Warner Bros.’ King Richard, a film that is a touchstone of ABFF’s legacy of showcasing extraordinary Black talent and inspiring storytelling reflecting the brilliance of diversity in Hollywood,” ABFF Ventures LLC President Nicole Friday said in a press release.

“We’re especially gratified to have the film’s director, Reinaldo Marcus Green, a previous finalist in HBO’s prestigious Short Film Competition, return to ABFF as a feature film director — demonstrating the importance of the HBO pipeline in advancing the careers of Black artists. This event is simply a grand slam on every level.”

Led by director Reinaldo Marcus Green, the film tells the story of Richard Williams, a Michigan native who guided two of his daughters, Serena and Venus, to tennis stardom. Will Smith will play the lead role of Richard Williams while Demi Singleton portrays Serena Williams and Saniyya Sidney plays Venus Williams. Lovecraft Country‘s Aunjanue Ellis, Scandal‘s Tony Goldwyn and The Walking Dead star Jon Bernthal will also appear in the film.

“Having King Richard at ABFF this year is truly a full-circle moment,” Green added.

“Back in 2013, my short film Stone Cars, that I made while studying at NYU screened in competition and was distributed on HBO — so opening up the festival for ABFF’s 25th anniversary means a lot to me. It’s an absolute honor to return this year with our film. Thank you to Warner Bros. and the whole filmmaking team, the family we built on set, the Williams family for allowing us to tell their groundbreaking story and, of course, our wonderful crew and cast led by none other than Mr. Will Smith.”

The 25th American Black Film Festival will open up in early November. However, viewers can watch the film on HBO Max beginning November 19.

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