Urbanworld International Film Festival Announces 2023 Slate of Star-Studded Titles
Founding Partner HBO Returns for the 27th Year with Warner Bros. Discovery as Prestige Partner
NEW YORK, NY (October 6, 2023) – The 27th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival has announced its official 2023 slate, which includes a clips and conversation event with Marvel Studios’ “The Marvels” writer/director and Urbanworld alum Nia DaCosta, as well as the world premiere of A Wu-Tang Experience: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, directed by The RZA and Gerald Barclay.
This year’s festival will take place on November 1-5, 2023 at AMC 34th Street and the SVA Theatre. HBO returns to Urbanworld as a Founding Partner with Warner Bros. Discovery serving as Prestige Partner.
Spotlight presentations include the HBO Documentary Films feature Stand Up & Shout: Songs from a Philly High School, directed by Amy Schatz and executive produced by Mike Jackson, John Legend, and Ty Stiklorius of Get Lifted Film Co.; the upcoming series Lawmen: Bass Reeves, presented by Paramount+ and starring Executive Producer David Oyelowo (Selma) as the titular Reeves, which tells the legendary untold story of the first Black U.S. Marshal. The series is created for television by Executive Producer and Showrunner Chad Feehan and executive produced by Oscar Nominee Taylor Sheridan.
Prime Video will present the documentary feature Maxine’s Baby: The Tyler Perry Story, which is a tender, intimate portrait of the writer, actor, filmmaker, studio head and media mogul. National Geographic Documentary Films will present a special youth screening of The Space Race, directed by Diego Hurtado de Mendoza and Urbanworld alum Lisa Cortés.
The festival is also proud to highlight the work of Urbanworld alums, such as the Sundance faves To Live and Die and Live, directed by Qasim Basir and starring Amin Joseph (“Snowfall”) and Omari Hardwick (The Mother, “Power”); Young. Wild. Free., directed by Thembi Banks with Sanaa Lathan (“The Best Man: The Final Chapters”) and Mike Epps (“The Upshaws”); and Berlinale audience award winner Sira, directed by Apolline Traoré.
Rounding out the short films is ESPN’s presentation of “Black Girls Play,” a festival-favorite directed by award-winning documentary team Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson.
Disney+ is showcasing six shorts from its Disney+ Launchpad incubator program of diverse filmmakers whose unique and evocative voices bring new perspectives to storytelling: “The Ghost,” directed by Erica Eng; “Black Belts,” directed by Spencer Glover; “Beautiful, FL,” directed by Gabriela Ortega; “The Roof,” directed by Alexander Bocchieri; “Maxine,” written and directed by Niki Ang and “Project CC,” directed by Cashmere Jasmine.
The slate of nearly 100 titles includes shorts from notable names such as Yvonne Orji (“Insecure”) and Zainab Jah (False Positive), who will screen their respective films, “Jamaal” and “Reunion” – as first-time directors. Executive producer and long-time Urbanworld alum Nelson George will present the short art film “Flower,” starring world-renowned ballerina Misty Copeland. “A Love Letter to Hip Hop” directed by Benny Boom and starring Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and “Part of Me: Anuar Khalifi by Yasiin Bey” starring Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def) celebrate the art of music and culture.
“For close to 30 years, Urbanworld has remained true to its mission of providing a platform for historically excluded filmmakers to tell their stories,” said Karen McMullen, who was recently promoted to Festival Director of Urbanworld in addition to her role as Head of Programming, her position for last year’s festival. A Brown University graduate, former film editor, and veteran in festival programming, McMullen has helped curate slates for Tribeca and DOC NYC film festivals, among others. “We are excited and fortunate to be able to continue the tradition of highlighting the work of emerging and established talent in film and television,” she said.
“We are very excited to showcase the wide range of emerging diverse talent from around the world that Urbanworld has become known for,” said Stacy Spikes, Festival Founder and Co-Founder of MoviePass. “This year has one of the best lineups of newcomers and alums I have ever seen.”
2023 Urbanworld Film Festival Slate
- Lawmen: Bass Reeves – Created by Chad Feehan (Presented by Paramount+)
- Maxine’s Baby: The Tyler Perry Story – Directed by Gelila Bekele and Armani Ortiz (Presented by Prime Video)
- Stand Up & Shout: Songs from a Philly High School – Directed by Amy Schatz (Presented by HBO Documentary Films)
- The Space Race – Directed by Diego Hurtado de Mendoza and Lisa Cortés (Presented by National Geographic Documentary Films)
U.S./WORLD CINEMA NARRATIVE FEATURES
- Chronicles of a Wandering Saint (Argentina) – Directed by Tomás Gómez Bustillo (New York Premiere)
- Frybread Face and Me – Directed by Billy Luther (New York Premiere)
- INKY PINKY PONKY (New Zealand) – Directed by Damon Fepuleai, Ramon TeWake (U.S. Premiere)
- To Live and Die and Live – Directed by Qasim Basir
- Young. Wild. Free. – Directed by Thembi Banks (New York Premiere)
- Sira (Burkina Faso) – Directed by Apolline Traoré (U.S. Premiere)
- A Wu-Tang Experience: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Directed by Gerald K. Barclay and The RZA (World Premiere)
- Bike Vessel – Directed by Eric D. Seals (New York Premiere)
- Black Barbie: A Documentary – Directed by Lagueria Davis (New York Premiere)
- Brief Tender Light (Ghana/USA) – Directed by Arthur Musah (New York Premiere)
DISNEY LAUNCHPAD SHORTS (Presented by DISNEY+)
- Beautiful, FL – Directed by Gabriela Ortega
- Black Belts – Directed by Spencer Glover
- Maxine – Directed by Niki Ang
- Project CC – Directed by Cashmere Jasmine
- The Ghost – Directed by Erica Eng
- The Roof – Directed by Alexander Bocchieri
POV SHOWCASE (Presented by WNET)
- By Way of Canarsie – Directed by Emily Packer and Lesley Steele
- Freshwater – Directed by dream hampton
- Sol in the Garden – Directed by Emily Cohen Ibañez and Débora Souza Silva
- Still Waters – Directed by Aurora Brachman
- The Dream of a Horse (Iran) – Directed by Marjan Khosravi (New York Premiere)
U.S. AND WORLD NARRATIVE SHORTS
- A Version – Directed by Asad Farooqui (New York Premiere)
- August Visitor – Directed by Ifeyinwa Arinze
- Becoming – Directed by Tramaine Raphael Gray
- Children of Light (Korea/USA) – Directed by Minkyu Kang (New York Premiere)
- Choices – Directed by Justin Luis Denis (World Premiere)
- Cousins – Directed by Karina Dandashi
- Cut Me If You Can – Directed by Nicolas Polixene and Sylvain Loubet (New York Premiere)
- Death & Ramen – Directed by Tiger Ji
- Don’t Touch My Hair – Directed by Matthew Law (New York Premiere)
- Don’t Wait Up For Me – Directed by Alain Alfaro (New York Premiere)
- ExpoZure – Directed by Kimson Albert (World Premiere)
- Hématome (Belgium) – Directed by Babetida Sadjo
- Homing – Directed by Ricardo Varona (New York Premiere)
- House Party (United Kingdom) – Directed by William Alexander Boyd III (U.S. Premiere)
- Incomplete – Directed by Zoey Martinson
- I Held Him – Directed by Hans Augustave
- JAMAAL – Directed by Yvonne Orji (World Premiere)
- Jerome – Directed by Gianfranco Fernández-Ruiz (New York Premiere)
- LOOK BACK AT IT – Directed by Felicia Pride
- Lunchbox – Directed by Anne Hu
- Magic Ring – Directed by Alex Ashe
- My Two Left Feet – Directed by Damian Gonzalez (U.S. Premiere)
- October Mourning – Directed by Frederick Thornton (New York Premiere)
- Reunion – Directed by Zainab Jah and Tim Naylor (New York Premiere)
- Spaceship – Directed by Jorge G. Camarena (New York Premiere)
- The Burden – Directed by Tish Arana (New York Premiere)
- The Fore-men (Canada) – Directed by Adrian Bobb (East Coast Premiere)
- The Old Young Crow (Japan) – Directed by Liam LoPinto (New York Premiere)
- TikTok Challenged – Directed by Ivan Rome
- UNERASABLE – Directed by Déon Ragin (World Premiere)
- YELLOW (United Kingdom) – Directed by ELHAM EHSAS (East Coast Premiere)
- Black Girls Play: The Story of Hand Games – Directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson (Presented by ESPN Films)
- Duckworthy – Directed by M.G. Evangelista (New York Premiere)
- I Was a Soul Train Dancer – Directed by Timiza Sanyika (New York Premiere)
- Merman – Directed by Sterling Hampton IV
- PART OF ME – Anuar Khalifi BY Yasiin Bey (Spain) – Directed by Jordi Esgleas Marroi (New York Premiere)
- OVER THE WALL – Directed by KRYSTAL TINGLE
- SLICE – Directed by Zaire Love (New York Premiere)
- The Big Idea: Birth Without Bias – Directed by Sarah Klein, Tom Mason (New York Premiere)
- Things Long Left Unsaid – Directed by Antonia Thornton (New York Premiere)
- WA GUEJJ GUI – OCEAN PEOPLE – Directed by Clé Hunnigan (World Premiere)
- Bridges – Directed by Jonathan Davenport (World Premiere)
- BURNING RUBBER – Directed by Christopher Fequiere and Dara King (New York Premiere)
- Lil’ Ruby – Directed by Bartek Kik (New York Premiere)
- Perfect City: The Bravest Kid – Directed by Shengwei Zhou (East Coast Premiere)
- Tomato Kitchen (China) – Directed by Junyi Xiao
- BET Presents: A Love Letter to Hip Hop – Directed by Benny Boom
- FLOWER – Directed by Lauren Finerman
- It Smells Like Springtime – Directed by Mackie Mallison
- Quiet As It’s Kept – Directed by Ja’Tovia Gary (New York Premiere)
- Paradise Ft. Terrace Martin & Alex Isley – Directed By child. (Presented By Jill Newman Productions)
YOUNG CREATORS SHOWCASE
- BURNT MILK (Jamaica) – Directed by Joseph Douglas Elmhirst (U.S. Premiere)
- Of Silence and Song – Directed by Dai Leyi (New York Premiere)
- Shallots and Garlic / Bawang Merah Bawang Putih (Indonesia/Canada) – Directed by Andrea Nirmala Widjajanto (New York Premiere)
- Xiaohui and his cows (China) – Directed by Xinying Lao (New York City Premiere)
- I Don’t Dream in Spanish Anymore – Written by Missy Hernandez
- Long Live AJ – Written by Marvin Van Buren
- Panorama Connection – Written by Nicole Weaver
- The Washroom – Written by Omar Al Dakheel and Elie El Choufany
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The Urbanworld Film Festival was launched in 1997 by Founder Stacy Spikes, Co-Founder and CEO of MoviePass, and a former Executive at Miramax and October Films. The five-day festival showcases narrative features, documentaries, short films, web originals, experimental, spotlight screenings and conversations, and music performances. Hollywood studios, networks and streamers, as well as established and emerging content creators, have consistently chosen Urbanworld to premiere box office hits and award-winning projects. An initiative under the Urbanworld Foundation, the Festival is supported by Founding Partner HBO, and Prestige Partner Warner Bros. Discovery; Supporting Partners Comcast NBCUniversal, Disney+, ESPN Films, MoviePass, Open AI, Paramount+, and Prime Video; Industry Partners Motion Picture Association, and National Football League; Contributing Partners Bloomberg Arts Initiative, Directors Guild of America, and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment; Media Partners I Heart Media and WNET. Visit www.urbanworld.org for more information.