Festival Runs September 18-22, 2019 in Manhattan

Cynthia Erivo, Tika Sumpter, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Bryan Stevenson, Michelle Miller, Gia Peppers, directors Kasi Lemmons and Deon Taylor and producers Debra Martin Chase and Daniela Taplin Lundberg Confirmed To Attend


(NEW YORK, NY) – The 23rd Annual Urbanworld Film Festival (, along with founding partner HBO, announced its 2019 festival slate today.  The slate of 78 official selections and 7 spotlight selections represent inclusion in the broadest sense, highlighting content from around the globe by creators of color and women.  The annual showcase of diverse culture will take place in Manhattan, September 18-22, 2019 at AMC Empire 25 on 234 West 42nd Street.

“Each year we strive to expand our programming slate to expose stories, themes and characters that have been under-represented in our world.  This year is no exception,” said Gabrielle Glore, Festival Director & Head of Programming, Urbanworld Film Festival.  “What is most exciting to see is the continued elevation of quality manifested across our content creators’ work, as we celebrate their creativity and craft.”

Some of the spotlights of the festival include:

Focus Features’ Harriet will open the festival on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at 7:30 P.M.  Tony-winning Broadway actor Cynthia Erivo stars in Kasi Lemmons‘ inspiring biopic about renowned abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and risked her life to lead others to freedom through the network of safehouses known as the Underground Railroad.  Erivo, Lemmons and producers Debra Martin Chase and Daniela Taplin Lundberg are confirmed to attend the festival and a conversation with them, moderated by CBS This Morning Saturday’s Michelle Miller, will immediately follow the screening.

Lemmons is also this year’s festival ambassador.  “I’m thrilled to share Harriet with the Urbanworld Film Festival audience. The experience of creating this film was life-changing for me in so many ways,” said Lemmons.  “We are honored to open this festival and look forward to discussing our journey with such a passionate group of film lovers.” The award-winning director, writer, actress and professor’s feature films include Eve’s Bayou, The Caveman’s Valentine, Talk to Me and Black Nativity.  She is currently directing the first two episodes of the 4-part Netflix mini-series “Madam CJ Walker.”

Helmed by Academy and Emmy Award winning director Roger Ross Williams, HBO’s “The Apollo” chronicles the unique history and contemporary legacy of the New York City landmark, the Apollo Theater and will make its Urbanworld debut on Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 8:00 P.M. The documentary weaves together archival footage, music, comedy and dance performances and behind-the-scenes verité with the team that makes the theater run.  Williams and executive producer Lisa Cortes will be featured for a Q&A immediately following the documentary.

Friday, September 20, 2019 at 7:45 P.M ABC’s “mixed-ish” will be showcased at the festival. Rainbow Johnson recounts her experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the ’80s and the constant dilemmas they had to face over whether to assimilate or stay true to themselves. Bow’s parents Paul (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and Alicia (Tika Sumpter) decide to move from a hippie commune to the suburbs to better provide for their family.  This family’s experiences illuminate the challenges of finding one’s own identity when the rest of the world can’t decide where you belong. Immediately following, there will be a talk with Sumpter and Gosselaar.


Just Mercy is the powerful true story of Harvard-educated lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) as he goes to Alabama to defend the disenfranchised and wrongly condemned — including Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), a man sentenced to death despite evidence proving his innocence. Bryan fights tirelessly for Walter with the system stacked against them. From director Destin Daniel Cretton and based on the book by Stevenson, the Warner Bros. film will screen on Friday, September 20, 2019 at 8:00 P.M.  There will be a conversation with Stevenson after the screening.


BET Networks and Tyler Perry Studios’ new joint venture BET+, the premier subscription video-on-demand service, will debut one of its first series, Tracy Oliver’s “First Wives Club,” at Urbanworld on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 6:45 P.M. After neglecting their friendship, best friends Ari (Ryan Michelle Bathe), Hazel (Jill Scott) and Bree (Michelle Buteau) reunite to help each other through rough patches in their lives. Together, they navigate music superstar Hazel’s tabloid-ridden divorce, campaign manager Ari’s unsatisfying marriage and orthopedic surgeon Bree’s cheating husband.  Along the way, the women learn that as long as they have each other, there’s nothing they can’t do.


Black and Blue will close the festival on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 8:00 P.M.  The fast-paced action thriller from Screen Gems follows a rookie cop (Academy Award nominee Naomie Harris) who inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam. After realizing that the murder was committed by corrupt cops, she teams up with the one person from her community who is willing to help her (Tyrese Gibson) as she tries to escape both the criminals out for revenge and the police who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage.  A conversation with director Deon Taylor moderated by journalist Gia Peppers will follow the screening.


Founding partner HBO is joined by key supporters including BET Networks as prestige partner and NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, Warner Bros. and Screen Gems as premiere partners.  Industry partners include ARRAY, MPAA, ABC Studios, UMC: Urban Movie Channel, Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America and Writers Guild of America East.  The Root, Essence, WNYC and Power 105 are media partners.


Passes and tickets for the festival are on sale now on  Additional festival announcements will also be made in September.  Follow @UWFilmFest and use #Urbanworld19 to join the conversation about the festival on social media.



*As of 08.30.19*


SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATIONS                                                     

All Rise – Directed by Anthony Mandler (Presented by Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures)

Black and Blue – Directed by Deon Taylor (Presented by Screen Gems)

First Wives Club – Executive Produced by Tracy Oliver (Presented by BET+)

Harriet – Directed by Kasi Lemmons (Presented by Focus Features)

Just Mercy – Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Presented by Warner Bros.)

mixed-ish – Created by Kenya Barris and Peter Saji (ABC Studios)

The Apollo – Directed by Roger Ross Williams (Presented by HBO)



#Truth – Directed by Charles Murray (New York Premiere)

Boy Genius  – Directed by Bridget Stokes Vandal  – Directed by Jose Daniel Freixas (New York Premiere)

DC Noir – Directed by George Pelecanos, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Nick Pelecanos, and Stephen Kinigopoulos

“If Not Now, When?” – Directed by Meaghan Good and Tamara Bass

Release – Directed by Adel L. Morales (World Premiere)

Same Difference – Directed by Derege Harding (East Coast Premiere)

Vandal – Directed by Jose Daniel Freixas (New York Premiere)

Yellow Rose  – Directed by Diane Paragas



By The Name of Tania (Peru) – Directed by Bénédicte Liénard and Mary Jiménez (East Coast Premiere)

Desrances (Burkina Faso) – Directed by Apolline Traoré (U.S. Premiere)

The Ghost And The House of Truth (Nigeria) – Directed by Akin Omotoso (World Premiere)

Honey Bee (Canada) – Directed by Rama Rau (U.S. Premiere)



Bakosó: AfroBeats of Cuba (Cuba) – Directed by Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi (New York Premiere)

Skin (Nigeria) – Directed by Daniel Etim Effiong (New York Premiere)

The Remix: Hip Hop x Fashion (U.S.) – Directed by Lisa Cortés and Farah X



The Birth of Deceit – Directed by Yaw Agyapong (New York Premiere)



Ladies Day – Directed by Abena Taylor-Smith (New York Premiere)

My Daughter Yoshiko  – Directed by Brian Blum (New York Premiere)

Street Flame – Directed by Katherine Propper

The Truck  – Directed by India McKinney (World Premiere)

Tree #3  – Directed by Omer Ben-Shachar (New York Premiere)


NARRATIVE SHORTS                                         

{Black title here} – Directed by Sev DeMy (East Coast Premiere)

An Anomalous Love – Directed by Reggie Williams (New York Premiere)

Angel’s Mirror – Directed by Cheng Chao (New York Premiere)

Anna  – Directed by Dekel Berenson (New York Premiere)

A Rodeo Film – Directed by Darius Dawson (New York Premiere)

Be A Fish – Directed by Aisha Ford (New York Premiere)

Brooklyn Park – Directed by Nikola Duravcevic (East Coast/New York Premiere)

Cap – Directed by Marshall Tyler (New York Premiere)

Dunya’s Day – Directed by Raed Alsemari

Empty – Directed by Cameron Morton

Feathers  – Directed by A.V. Rockwell

Final Gift – Directed by T. J. Kalunga Jones (World Premiere)

Finding Phoebe – Directed by Sadé Clacken Joseph (New York Premiere)

Illegal Rose – Directed by Deborah Riley Draper (East Coast Premiere)

Jazz in Wakanda – Directed by Djaka Souare

Kapara – Directed by Steve Hudson (U.S. Premiere)

María – Directed by Zoé Salicrup Junco (U.S. Premiere)

Message Erased – Directed by Alain Alfaro (New York Premiere)

Moving On – A Short Film About Grief – Directed by Nyasha Hatendi (New York Premiere)

Mr. Parker – Directed by Alex Ashe

Our Home Here – Directed by Angela Chen

Pick – Directed by Alicia K. Harris (World Premiere)

Retreat – Directed by Audrey Ellis Fox (East Coast Premiere)

Ruda – Directed by Maria Victoria Ponce (East Coast/New York Premiere)

Seven Mothers – Directed by Director X

Skin – Directed by Guy Nattiv (New York Premiere)

Something to Live For – Directed by Adva Reichman (New York Premiere)

‘Til Death – Directed by Asha Flowers

The Night, Unsheltered – Directed by Iñaki Velásquez (U.S. Premiere)

Wednesday – Directed by Daniel Willis (New York Premiere)

What Bitch? – Directed by Julian Acosta (East Coast Premiere)

Wonder – Directed by Javier Molina (New York Premiere)


DOCUMENTARY SHORTS                                        

A Great Day In Hip Hop Revisited – Directed by Nelson George (World Premiere)

Black Girl Church – Directed by Marissa Pina, Audrey Williams, Joe Schaefer (New York Premiere)

Bradford Young: Cinema Is The Weapon – Directed by Corine Dhondee (New York Premiere)

Werk! Behind the Ball – Directed by Fred Brown, Jr.  (U.S. Premiere)



Mice, A Small Story  – Directed by Jade Baillargeault, Nazli Doale, Dimitri James, Quang Daniel La, Morgane Lau, Mélanie Pango, and Manon Pringault (New York Premiere)

Prizefighter – Directed by Lyndon J Barrois

Substance  – Directed by Jamaal Bradley

The 49th Day – Directed by Nathan Hong Fisher (World Premiere)

Unalienable Rights – Directed by Froi Cuesta



Brothers from the Suburbs – Directed by Patrick Wimp (East Coast Premiere)

Cheer Up, Charlie – Directed by Carmen LoBue

Frederick Douglass Boulevard aka Food & Drink Boulevard aka F.D.B. – Directed by Washington Kirk (World Premiere)

King Ester – Directed by Dui Jarrod (New York Premiere)

Sauce – Directed by Dui Jarrod (New York Premiere)

Soul City: Grace – Directed by Coodie & Chike (World Premiere)

Surina & Mel. – Directed by Abi Vargese (World Premiere)

The Right Swipe – Directed by Justin Casselle (East Coast/New York Premiere)



BGM (Featuring Temi Oni) – Directed by Sontenish Myers and Temi Oni

Convencete (Featuring Princesa Alba) – Directed by Marialy Rivas (World Premiere)

Outside (Featuring Daniel Laurent) – Directed by Jeff Palmer (New York Premiere)

Soif (Thirst) (Featuring Ibeyi) – Directed by Mimi Lee (World Premiere)

Who Are We Now (Featuring Synacure with Abiodun Oyewole and Baba Donn Babatunde Of The Last Poets.)  – Directed by vagabond (World Premiere)



I’m Not That Girl – Written By Sundi Lofty

Midnight In Kansas – Written By Malik Aziz

Secret Santa – Written By Pauline Gray