The African American Film Marketplace (AAFM) and the S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase, held April 27-29, 2018, kicked off its 24th year “A Great Day in Hollywood” opening celebration at the Nate Holden Theatre on April 27 and recognized outstanding individuals, role models, community leaders, industry professionals, pioneers and philanthropists who have elevated or improved lives.

This year’s honorees included Community Service Award: Tim McNeal, Vice President of Creative Talent Development and Inclusion at Disney | ABC Television Group, Community Service Award; President’s Award: Charisse Bremond Weaver and George Weaver of the Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade for their humanitarianism; Lifetime Achievement Award: Kokayi Ampah, iconic location manager and the first African American union location manager (“The Color Purple”, “Shawshank Redemption”); and The Ivan Dixon Award of Achievement: Bobbi Banks, legendary sound editor (“Fate of the Furious”, “Selma”).

Hosted by actor and philanthropist William Allen Young, star of CBS “Code Black”, the fete also recognized high school filmmakers through its Diversity Youth Film Festival sponsored in part by councilmen Herb Wesson 10th Council district and David Ryu 4th Council District and the over 80 independent filmmakers whose projects were selected for inclusion in the short film festival from more than 1000 entries received internationally.

Besides two full days of independent short film screenings, attendees were also treated to industry panels and salons that included esteemed panelists with topics that ranged from the marginalization of Black media and marketing in Hollywood, Marginalized: Black Media & OTT/Digital Streaming Getting your Content Seen, directors talking about directing to intimate conversations on costuming, writing and script writing. Some of the luminaries included in these panels and conversations included writer Antwone Fisher, AfroLife TV founder Alberto Marzan, directors Oz Scott “Black Lightning” and Jeffrey Byrd “Dynasty” and Director for Disney| ABC Creative Talent Development and Inclusion, DMA.

The Films With a Purpose (FWAP) selection for 2018 was “21 and Done” a harrowing feature length documentary about youth aging out of the foster care system. Executive produced by Sandra Evers-Manly, who started FWAP — to support emerging filmmakers to write and produce films that help to inspire, bring about change and motivate someone to take action – “21 and Done was selected to premiere under this social justice film initiative, and explores how turning 21 years-old while a celebrated rite of passage for many young Americans, is for too many foster youth, who age out of the foster Care system by turning 21, a harrowing milestone a countdown that can feel more like a ticking bomb. What should be a time of celebrating full adulthood, becomes a period of anxiety, desperation and danger for many. The film presented current and former foster youth facing these unique challenges, along with the organizations outside the system that are on the front lines battling for their futures.

The premiere screening included a poignant discussion and audience Q and A with the filmmakers and those on the front lines helping to find solutions to the problems and included its award-winning writer-producer, Jocelyn Scott and acclaimed writer-director, Kiara C. Jones, practitioners Janet Denise Kelly, Founder/Director Sanctuary of Hope and Chrystal Elizabeth Bowman, Clinical Psychologist, Foster Care Transitional Youth. The film is the impetus of, filmmaker Jocelyn Scott a former TV journalist, who had covered a news story several years ago on foster youth. “Our society expects foster kids to be fully self-reliant as soon as they turn 21,” said Scott. “The reality is most of them find themselves without the necessary skills and resources to live independently.”