On Wednesday, April 7th, the 12th Annual African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) hosted a virtual award ceremony, to honor the very best films, directors, actors, producers, artists, and world changers of our time.
The goal of the 12th Annual African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) award ceremony was to spotlight cinema, the Black experience, and storytellers from the African Diaspora. Since 2003, AAFCA has worked to become more diverse and inclusive cultivating understanding, appreciation, and advancement of the contributions of African descended talent to cinematic and television culture. Through these films, people are able to understand the trials and victories of past and future generations. Actress Tichina Arnold, comedian J.B. Smoove, and American stand-up comedian Tone Bell aired the award ceremony to a private audience, with a second public-facing viewing on April 17th and 18th on The AAFCA Channel on Comcast/Xfinity.
The AAFCA Award for Best Ensemble was presented by Aida Rodriguez and Sheryl Lee Ralph, Rodriguez, and Ralph Amazon Studios awarded to One Night in Miami. Award-winning film, One Night in Miami gathered iconic figures such as Muhammad Ali, Malcom X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown the ability to discuss their experience in the Civil Rights movement and life in the 60s.
With more wins, the American Film Critics Association honored Golden Globe Award winner and actress Regina King for Best Director for “One Night in Miami.” Gina Prince-Bythewood, the director of well-known films, Love & Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees, Beyond the Lights, and The Old Guard presented King with the award. King thanked her team for the ability to create and story tell. King’s gratitude showed how humble she was and showing the value of black men who have helped change America.
For Best Screenplay, the next honoree was screenwriter and playwright Kemp Powers which was presented by Nissan’s director of corporate communication Ashli Bobo and The Black List’s Franklin Leonard, for the film “One Night in Miami.” From winning three prizes, One Night in Miami has been beneficial to society as icons are given the ability to shed light on their responsibilities, defending rights for all people and fighting for justice, equality and empowerment. This film has been like a brotherhood.
As the program progressed, Judas and the Black Messiah led the 12th annual AAFCA award ceremony with four wins. For Breakout Director, film director, and producer Shaka King was awarded for his work in the film Judas and the Black Messiah which was presented by Facebook’s Jen Louis Barrett and Aneesh Chaganty.
AAFCA awarded Daniel Kaluuya for Best Supporting Actor, in Judas and the Black Messiah. Kaluuya said, “ layering this story with the truth and the light of the truth” which was based on the betrayal of Fred Hamilton the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. American actress and singer Da’Vine Joy Randolph awarded Daniel Kaluuya with his award. Kaluuya’s castmate, Dominique Fishback, was awarded Best Supporting Actress, for her role in Judas and the Black Messiah. Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw presented Fishback with the award.
AAFCA President/CEO Gil Robertson and Chaz Ebert presented Judas and the Black Messiah with the Best Picture film. Robertson said, “ Released against the backdrop of the present-day Black Lives Matter movement, the film’s message of commitment and sacrifice to social justice is empowering.” These remarks give Robertson a chance to connect with the viewers and the significance of the film.
This year’s award for Best Foreign Film was presented to Philippe Lacôte, Director of Night of the Kings. Lacôte made it known how he uses fiction and real stories to create films. The director was honored to have this chance to tell real, authentic, and visible stories to the surface of Hollywood. To present the award, AAFCA had British filmmaker Amma Asante. Next, the AAFCA Award for Best Animated Film, presented by Daryl “Chill” Mitchell and Matthew Cherry, will be awarded to SOUL. Disney film “SOUL” becomes the best-animated film because it allows people to become introspective with themselves to figure out their skills and talents but also letting people know the importance of a soul.
All In: The Fight for Democracy, received the Best Documentary award presented by American motion picture and television producer Debra Martin Chase. Within this film, Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortes examine voter suppression and the activists who fight for the rights of U.S. citizens. This award becomes significant when people reflect on all of those citizens who did not get a chance to vote because of inequality in particular, racism or sexism.
After many awards, the AAFCA presented the Best short film to Two Distant Strangers. Political commentator and host Trevor Noah gave the film the award.
The AAFCA Award honored singer and songwriter Andra Day with the Best Actress Award. Lee Daniels, the director of The United States vs. Billie Holiday presented her with the award. Daniels wanted to tell an honest and transparent story on Billie Holiday. He believed that it was his responsibility to highlight the work of Billie Holiday during the time of the Civil Rights movement in the 1930s and 40s.
In honor of the late Chadwick Boseman, The AAFCA Awarded him Best Actor for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Boseman is known for his work in films such as Black Panther, Get On Up, and 42. Michael B. Jordan presents this award to remember the life and legacy of Boseman along with the remarkable impact he left on this world.
Excellence is the quality, time, and effort a person puts in their field. African American Critics Association not only recognized films, directors, and producers but they also honored world-changers who work endlessly to make a difference in the world.
Over the years, Netflix has used its content platform to bring new movies, diversity, and producers/directors to the surface of entertainment. To present Netflix with the award, AAFCA President/CEO Gil Robertson introduced the streaming service. Robertson was appreciative for Netflix bringing people from all around the country together during a pandemic to fully enjoy the power of cinema.
With the innovator award, Singer Mariah Carey was awarded because of her ability to story-tell and being able to create new ideas and methods in the music industry. Carey said, “when you are the only one who believes in your vision for yourself, you better get to innovating.” Her words encouraged other people to become trailblazers and gave people the verbal tools to create their own path. The award was presented by Nissan’s CMO Allyson Witherspoon and Michaela Angela Davis.
Diageo’s Head of Corporate Responsibility Dr. Danielle Robinson presented Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom director George C.Wolfe with the Salute to Excellence Award. Wolfe said, “When we tell those stories, not only are the people who are involved in the creation of those stories empowered but hopefully the audience will be as well.”
Wrapping up the ceremony with two more awards, AAFCA Stanley Kramer Social Justice Award presented by Stanley Kramer’s Widow Karen Kramer and Daughter Kat Kramer, and awarded to the All In: The Fight For Democracy Team Stacey Abrams, Lisa Cortes, and Liz Garbus with a special message from Ambassador Andy Young. Because of Stacey Abrams, Georgia became a blue state to help win the election and her words are freedom from voter suppression.
AAFCA Icon Award Presented by ADCOLOR Chairman Marc Stephenson Strachan, and awarded to Viola Davis. “My acceptance of any of this praise is equal to my absolute just passion to leave a legacy. A legacy for brown-skin girls just like me who were told that they were invisible.” Davis commands the attention of the audience with empowerment for African American women to be proud of who and what they are. Davis further expresses the hardship Americans have experienced in the year of 2020-2021. “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly that we have all the tools necessary to elevate our lives in the most unbelievable and profound ways.” Davis’ faith shines through the acceptance speech and she lets us know that we will rise above difficulty.