The 18th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival, presented by BET Networks with founding sponsor HBO, kicks off today with over 70 films — including a dozen world premieres — as well as a host of panels, conversations, sneak previews and more.
Beyond the Lights, the latest drama from writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Secret Life of Bees), will officially open the festival tonight in New York City. The BET/Relativity Media-backed feature film tells the story of Noni Jean, a hot new artist who is primed for stardom. But the pressures of success compel her to nearly end her life until she is saved by a young police officer. They fall hard for each other, despite the protests of their parents, who want each to focus on their own career ambitions. But he might be the missing piece to unlock her artistic potential.
The film stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle) and Nate Parker (Red Tails), with Danny Glover and Minnie Driver co-starring. For those who can’t be in New York for tonight’s premiere, Beyond the Lights will open in theaters nationwide on November 14.
Other highlights of this year’s festival include exclusive sneak peeks at Addicted, followed by a Q&A with stars Boris Kodjoe, Tyson Beckford and William Levy, author Zane and director Bille Woodruff. Issa Rae's newly-hatched company ColorCreative.TV will premiere three independently-produced half-hour comedy pilots at the festival, with the goal of landing each series on network or cable television. In addition, Ava DuVernay will offer a behind-the-scenes look at her highly-anticipated civil rights drama Selma.
Visit www.urbanworld.org for a full program, including screening dates and times.
BET.com is your #1 source for Black celebrity news, photos, exclusive videos and all the latest in the world of hip hop and R&B music.
Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
(Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Blackbird Productions, LLC)