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.”