17th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival Unveils Lineup


The 17th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival, presented by BET Networks, has revealed its slate of movies for their fest beginning next month. The film festival will open with David E. Talbert’s romantic comedy, Baggage Claim on September 19 at the SVA Theater in Chelsea.

The choice of Baggage Claim to open this year’s festival is an exciting choice that hopefully will continue to build the buzz for the romantic comedy thrust in the middle of the most competitive season in the history of African American cinema with approximately six major studio releases before the end of the 2013. Initially set for release in October, Fox Searchlight moved the film’s release date up by a month to September 27, 2013.

Based on Talbert’s best-selling debut novel, Baggage Claim tells the story a flight attendant with thirty days and thirty thousand miles to find a husband. The film boasts a talented ensemble cast which includes Paula Patton, Taye Diggs, Derek Luke, Trey Songz, Jill Scott, J Cole, Djimon Hounsou, Adam Brody, Boris Kodjoe, Tia Mowry, Lala Anthony and others.

Another major release that will be spotlighted at Urbanworld includes, Gun Hill, part of BET Network’s line-up of new original movies. Directed by Reggie “Rock” Bythewood (Biker Boyz), Gun Hill stars Larenz Tate portraying twin brothers, Trane and Bird, on opposite sides of the law.

The film also stars Middle of Nowhere’s Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michael Aronov, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney (How Stella Got Her Groove Back), Tawny Cypress (Heroes, Rescue Me) and Aisha Hinds (True Blood, Hawthorne).

Additional highlights of Urbanworld 2013 include:

– A Season 4 episode of the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire featuring Michael Kenneth Williams and Jeffrey Wright;

– The black western They Die by Dawn, conceived and directed by Jeymes Samuel of The Bullitts (a collaborative group of artists – both music and film – headed by Samuel). The all-star cast includes some fan favorites: Jesse Williams, Michael K. Williams, Isaiah Washington, Bokeem Woodbine, Clifton Powell, Rosario Dawson, Giancarlo Esposito, Erykah Badu, and others.

– Urbanworld is also announcing the launch of Urbanworld Underground, a platform designed to highlight maverick content creators who are transcending conventional filmmaking with innovative storytelling. In addition to They Die by Dawn, Urbanworld Underground will feature Kahlil Joseph’s What Matters Most Shorts Block, which includes Black Up, Until the Quiet Comes, The Model (Parts 1 & 2), and Wildcat.

BET returns for a sixth year as presenting sponsor along with founding sponsor HBO, who will host the Urbanworld Digital program again this year, with sessions presented by HBO, Interactive One, and MoviePass.

“Urbanworld Film Festival celebrates established multi-cultural screenwriters, producers and directors and aims to empower hopefuls by bringing new and diverse films to our community,” said Loretha Jones, President of Original Programming at BET. “BET believes Urbanworld Film Festival is an undeniable platform for emerging filmmakers, and because we pride ourselves on having our finger on the pulse of what’s important to our audience, this makes our partnership even more exciting.”

“Our 2013 slate indicates what I’ve known all year: that this is an exciting time for multicultural films,” said Gabrielle Glore, Executive Producer and head of Programming for Urbanworld. “We are always honored to be able to connect audiences with the artistic excellence of the filmmakers who have participated in Urbanworld for 17 years. And the continued support of our partners BET and HBO make it possible for us to keep shining a light on the diversity of stories that the world needs to see.”

The 17th annual Urbanworld Film Festival will take place September 18-22, 2013 at midtown Manhattan’s AMC 34th Street, and will screen 60 films, including 4 world premieres and 2 U.S. premieres.

Stay tuned for our coverage throughout the festival!