|Actor/Director Mario Van Peebles|
"We are so pleased to award Mario with this year's Filmmaker Trophy. Baadasssss! not only received a standing ovation at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, but it also won the Critics Award at Roger Eberts 7th Annual Overlooked Film Festival," said Jeff Friday, festival co-founder and producer. "It was shown on about 41 screens during its limited run, grossed more than $350,000 and received acclaim from all of the major film critics and writers," Friday added.
"Lincoln's support of ABFF is significant for many reasons, but most of all, their support encourages and empowers African-Americans to make films that reflect the Black experience," he concluded. The recipient of the Filmmaker Trophy receives a two-year lease on a 2005 Lincoln Navigator.
"Lincoln has been a proud sponsor of the ABFF for six years and continues its sponsorship and involvement with the festival," said Jeanine White, multicultural marketing manager for Lincoln Mercury. Lincoln is committed to the spirit of independent filmmaking and is dedicated to showcasing the best and brightest in independent Black cinema," she added.
The son of director/writer Melvin Van Peebles, Mario Van Peebles made his acting bow in a small role in his father's Sweet Sweetbacks Baadasssss Song. At that time, Van Peebles had no burning desire to become a performer, choosing instead to study economics at Columbia University. He wavered between a financial and an acting career before becoming a full-time actor with the 1984 film Cotton Club. In 1988, Van Peebles starred in the TV comedy adventure series, Sonny Spoon, playing a glib private eye with a predilection for elaborate disguises; this brief series afforded him his first opportunity to direct.
Three years later in 1991, he made his film directing debut with New Jack City, which will be screened at the festival as part of the ABFF's Classic Cinema presentation. New Jack City was widely praised by some as being a truthful, no-nonsense dissection of inner-city life, and widely derided by others as merely a slick outgrowth of the "blaxploitation" flicks of the 1970s. Van Peebles played a major role in New Jack City, as he would in his subsequent Posse (1993), a revisionist western about a Utopian all-black community. Van Peebles' next directorial endeavor was Panthers (1995), a recounting of the Black Panther Movement.
In addition to the Trophy, Lincoln will also provide a Travel Well With Lincoln shuttle service, as well as vehicle displays and other onsite activities during the five-day retreat and international film market, considered by many in the entertainment industry to be the most prestigious international event for African-American filmmakers, actors and industry executives.
The ABFF is a property of Film Life, Inc., a New York-based film marketing and distribution company. Its mission is to spearhead the global distribution of quality Black films and become the leading American brand producing Black movies and related entertainment content.
Time Warner Inc. is the festival's presenting sponsor and Home Box Office is the founding sponsor. Other festival sponsors include: Lincoln Mercury (Platinum), Blockbuster and UrbanWorks Entertainment (Gold), as well as American Airlines, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Kodak, Nickelodeon, Nielsen Media Research, Starbucks, Turner Classic Movies, and VURV, Inc. (Silver).
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