Last weekend in New York Vimooz visited the Fifteenth Annual Urbanworld Film Festival in NYC, presented by BET Networks and sponsored by HBO and MoviePass.

Urbanworld was founded in 1997 by Stacy Spikes, and is dedicated to redefining the multicultural roles in contemporary cinema.

One of the spotlight films, Mario Van Peebles domestic drama “All Things Fall Apart,” which stars Fifty Cent as a rising college football star struck down by cancer (!), was a big, deserved audience hit. But, the real and true stand-outs of Urbanworld Film Festival were the narrative shorts.

Urbanworld did a tremendous job of pulling in some awesome short films. These shorts were exceptionally well executed, cut, acted, designed- you name it. Watch for the upcoming names coming soon in the next few years, and try to catch the films themselves at the next round of local festivals (many made there world premier here.) All of the narrative shorts were truly great, and here were some highlights:

“Burned,” directed by Phyllis Toben Bancroft, about an African American female Iraqi vet coping with alcoholism; “Camilo,” directed by Rafael Salazar, about an autistic boy who spent eleven days alone on the NYC subway system, centering on the Hispanic newscaster who doesn’t recognize him on the train, right after doing a news story on the boy; “Counterfeit,” directed by Geoff Baily, which was gorgeously shot in New York, and showed us the hustle of the Chinatown counterfeit game through the eyes of African immigrants; “Crazy Beats Strong Every Time,” dir. By Moon Molson, about inner-city twenty-somethings and the drunken ex-stepfather one of them can no longer ignore nor tolerate; “Digital Antiquities,” dir. By J.P. Chan- which was, hands-on, one of the best short films I’ve ever seen- in terms of early George Lucas lo-fi CGI, production design and promise; the hysterically animated “Jerk Chicken”- the whole shebang created and directed by the uber-talented Samuel Stewart; “The Tombs,” one of the most narratively cinematic of all the shorts- about the treacherous day in the life of the NYC prison system when waiting to see the judge, directed by Jerry Lamothe (another director to really watch); two truly astounding films for different reasons-slavery musical piece “Underground,” directed by Akil Dupont, which was lavish in its scope and sheer, old-fashioned cinematic ambition, and “Wake,” dir by Bree Newsome, a strangely elegant, gothic, scare film, which I already want to see full-length; “The Boxer,” by directors. Teddy Chen Culver and David Au; the very nervy and successful “Wolf Call,” dir by Rob Underhill, which is the re-telling of the Emmett Hill murder by the two murderers themselves and a reporter, all played by the same remarkable actor-writer- Mike Wiley; “LA Coffin School,” dir. By Erin Li, about a very odd way to come to appreciate and value life; and the incestuous, shattering “Hard Silence,” dir by Ozzy Villazon, features a truly breakout performance by a fantastic Valenzia Algarin and a genuinely knock-out one by Martha Solorzano.

Vimooz just cannot wait to see what fresh talent Urbanworld will discover next year…

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