HBO Announces Finalists for HBO Short Film Competition for 2021 ABFF

HBO announced today their selection of finalists who will compete in ABFF’s 24th annual HBO® Short Film Competition. The 25th milestone festival will be hosted on ABFF PLAY, its custom-built online platform from November 3-28. Continuing with the festival’s tradition, the online global event will include a line-up of independent films, network and studio previews and talk events. The HBO® Short Film Competition is regarded as one of the most prestigious short film showcases in the country.

This year’s five finalists, Lin Que Ayoung (“Cracked”), Omar S. Kamara (“Mass Ave”), Natalie Jasmine Harris (“Pure”), Michelle Beck (“The Snakes”), and Phumi Morare (“When The Sun Sets”) are emerging directors with diverse styles and sensibilities from across the United States. Prior winners include Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”), Steven Caple Jr. (“Creed II”), Kiel Adrian Scott (“The Bobby Brown Story”), Saladin K. Patterson (“The Big Bang Theory”) andBen Watkins (“Burn Notice”).

“As a founding sponsor, HBO continues to share ABFF’s mission of elevating the dynamic world of Black film and providing a space for talented newcomers in the industry,” said Dennis Williams, Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, WarnerMedia. “We proudly continue this tradition by uplifting fresh, thought-provoking, and unique voices that move the needle in culture.”

“The HBO Short Film Competition continues to be the industry-leading platform to showcase, reward and empower emerging Black storytellers,” said Jeff Friday, Founder ABFF Ventures LLC and CEO Jeff Friday Media (JFM).  We are extremely proud of our 24-year partnership with the HBO/WarnerMedia team and look forward to expanding our work in support of content creators of color.”

HBO has been a founding sponsor of ABFF since 1998 and is dedicated to furthering ABFF’s mission to showcase quality film and television content by and about people of African descent. Each film in this category will compete for ABFF’s HBO® Short Film Award and a prize of $10,000 for the winner and $5,000 for each of the finalists. Access to this year’s festival is free. To register and view content, including the HBO® Short Film Competition, hosted by Bevy Smith (Sirius XM’s Bevelations), go to  The winner will be announced during the Best of the ABFF Awards Presentation on Sunday, November 28, 2021. ABFF is proud to be a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards® Short Film Awards.


The following films are the 2021 official selections in the HBO® Short Film Competition, now in its 24th year.


2021 | USA | 15:34 min

Written, Directed & Produced by:  Lin Que Ayoung

Logline: It’s the end of the summer of 1985 in Queens, New York City. Toya, a feisty young girl, falls in love for the first time. After a series of disturbing events, Toya’s affection for Poochy compels her to face her traumatic past.

Cast: Tatum Marilyn Hall, Meliki Hurd, Kizzmett Pringle, Dwayne R Grant, Paris Crayton III, Destinee Mikayla Henry, Bonnie Schneider, Kamal Ani-Bellow, Zonia Edward, Simone McCrear, Ange Musoni, Ka’Ress Pringle-Wishner, Avondre E.D. Beverley, Zaydin Gordon, Felix Alexis, Mino Jones


2021 | USA | 20:51 min

Directed by: Omar S. Kamara

Written by: Omar S. Kamara, Jalmer Caceres

Produced by: Guo Guo

Logline: Over a day of landscaping work, a first-generation African American and his immigrant father have their tense relationship and different outlooks on life transformed irreversibly when they are racially profiled by police.

Cast: Benjamin A. Onyango, Omete Anassi


2021 | USA | 12:29 min

Written & Directed by:  Natalie Jasmine Harris

Produced by: Natalie Jasmine Harris, Natalie Holley, Alexyss Robinson

Logline: On the eve of her cotillion ball, a young Black girl grapples with her queer identity and questions her purity. Website:

Cast: Mikayla Lashae Bartholomew, Jacob Daniel Smith, Josca Moore, Aaron Casey, Yohance Burton, Jonathon Munez, Kyle Price, Jamon Adams, Rennee Harrison, Tianne Johnson


2021 | USA | 14:12 min

Directed & Written by: Michelle Beck

Produced by: Michelle Beck, Mara Alcaly, Clea Alsip

Logline: In an alternate future, surrounded by a culture of fear, a young Black woman channels her rage through violent fantasies.

Cast: Carra Patterson, James Wallert, Michael A McGrath, Jacob Ming-Trent, Stacey Sargeant, Nilja Sun


2019 | South Africa | 14 min

Directed & Written by: Phumi Morare

Produced by: Christine H. Cho

Logline: A young, black nurse living in 1985 apartheid South Africa must face her worst fears when she learns that her activist, younger brother may be in danger when he doesn’t return after school.

Cast: Zikhona Bali, Aphiwe Mkefe, Thembekile Mathe, Awonke Mtonjana, Quinne Brown, Lumkile Mkwalo, Morne Van Jaarsveld, Ryan Angilly

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