HBCU First LOOK Film Festival to Showcase Diverse Talents of HBCU Alumni

The HBCU First LOOK Film Festival (HBCUFLF) is set to kick off its inaugural year at Howard University, also known as ‘the Mecca.’ Taking place from November 10 to 12, 2023, this festival will showcase the talents of acclaimed HBCU alumni, including Academy Award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter, media mogul Cathy Hughes, and a diverse group of producers, directors, and actors.

The event aims to foster a supportive environment for emerging filmmakers, with film challenges, internships, college tours, and a range of exciting festival programming to engage attendees.

HBCU First LOOK Film Festival

The theme of this year’s festival is ‘A Celebration of Black Filmmakers Rooted in HBCU Culture‘, capturing the essence of the event’s mission to bring together HBCU students and alumni in the film and broadcast industries. This gathering serves as a platform to nurture Black talent, honor the achievements of these filmmakers, and provide opportunities for emerging creatives to showcase their remarkable work.

Sheila Eldridge, Festival Founder and CEO of the Award-Winning firm, Miles Ahead Entertainment & Broadcasting, expresses her enthusiasm for this unique initiative: “I’m excited to bring together a collective of partners who share my vision to build an annual initiative exclusively designed to serve as a unique pipeline for HBCU students.”

The festival will kick off with “Opening Night at the Movies” on Friday, November 10, featuring the special screening of ‘Rustin‘ produced by Netflix and Higher Ground in collaboration with Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. The film, directed by George C. Wolfe and starring Colman Domingo, tells the inspiring story of Bayard Rustin, the visionary behind the March on Washington in 1963. Alongside this remarkable film, attendees will also have the opportunity to explore the renowned Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), where the screening will take place.

One of the festival’s highlights is the HBCU First LOOK Film Challenge, which has received over 150 submissions from aspiring HBCU student filmmakers across the country. These talented individuals will come together on Howard University’s campus to showcase their creativity and compete for recognition.

On Saturday, November 11, the Café Mocha radio’s “My HBCU JOY” filmmakers’ lunch will feature a Keynote Speech by Ruth E. Carter, a two-time Academy Award-winning film costume designer and an alum of Hampton University. This event will also honor her with the prestigious Café Mocha Salute HER’ Women of Style Award presented by AARP. In addition, TV One will present “A Conversation with Urban One Founder and Chairperson” Cathy Hughes, during which seven HBCU First LOOK Film finalists will be announced, with the winner receiving a grand prize of $5,000.


As the festival draws to a close, attendees will enjoy “Closing Night at the Movies,” featuring the film “The Crossover: 50 years of Hip-Hop and Sports,” accompanied by an ESPN E60 “Talk Back” segment. This film block promises an unforgettable surprise performance.

Throughout the festival, attendees can engage in panel discussions, attend Master Classes led by esteemed HBCU alumni, and indulge in the continuous curated screenings of independent films in the festival’s “We Gotta Have It” Film Marathon. This marathon will also showcase the works of HBCU student filmmaker finalists. Furthermore, participants can seize valuable career-building opportunities at the 1st Annual PITCHFEST, where they will have the chance to present their ideas to major Hollywood Executives. Additionally, a Career Lounge will be available to jumpstart participants’ careers through internship opportunities.

The HBCU First LOOK Film Festival is proud to have the support of presenting sponsors and media partners, including AARP, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Café Mocha Network, Howard University Television + Film, Howard University Television (WHUT), HBCUGO.TV, Howard University Radio Network HBCU SiriusXM Channel 142, L.A.I. Communications, ESPN, and Netflix.

For the full schedule and more information on the HBCU First Look Film Festival, visit hbcufirstlook.com. Feel free to contact them at info@hbcufirstlook.com.

Join the conversation on social media: @HBCUfirstlook #hbcufirstlook #blackfilmmakers #hbcu

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