Black filmmakers like Miami Beach over Acapulco,may return to develop festival's Caribbean flavor
By Frank Norton
The sixth American Black Film Festival had its greatest media impact ever, event founder Byron Lewis Sr. said, while attracting 1,200 filmmakers to South Beach and convincing them to consider a return visit.
Organizers moved the 13-day June event from Acapulco, citing logistical problems and poor media coverage. They chose Miami for its proximity to major markets and to target ethnic groups and an entertainment infrastructure, said Mr. Lewis, also chairman & CEO of UniWorld Group, a $270 million Manhattan advertising agency.
He said South Florida's Caribbean communities will play a powerful role in the annual event's likely return to Miami Beach as the group looks to expand beyond African-American film into Haitian and Jamaican cinematography.
"We found the Miami community very supportive," Mr. Lewis said, crediting the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, which paid the festival's undisclosed incentive package.
"Whether we come back or not will be influenced by the convention bureau's receptivity," he said, adding that the group this year paid a significantly higher incentive than the $50,000 check it got in Acapulco.
"We would like." He said, "more support in promoting the event now that everybody has a perceived value of it and can work on it throughout the year."
Jeff Peel, director of Miami-Dade Mayor's Office of Film & Entertainment, said he hopes to create a relationship with the independent filmmakers through seminars and production incentives.
"I think it fits in well with the community's long-term strategic plan of creating a permanent film community," he said.
Mr. Lewis said if planners bring it back, they will avoid holding it concurrently with July's NAACP's convention planned here.
"We certainly wouldn't want to cannibalize our audiences," he said.