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HBO Short Film Award Competition Opens Film Life's 8th Annual American Black Film Festival in South Beach, July 14-18; - Five aspiring filmmakers to vie for $20,000 grand prize to be awarded by HBO at festival's closing ceremonies -.

NEW YORK, June 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Home Box Office has selected five aspiring filmmakers to compete for the 7th Annual HBO Short Film Award at Film Life's 8th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in South Beach, July 14- 18. Film Life, Inc. and Time Warner, with HBO as founding sponsor, will present the festival.

Attendees of the festival, including film industry representatives, will be able to see the competing shorts at an opening night screening at the Lincoln Theater. The very talented television and screen actress Tamara Tunie, whose film credits include "The Caveman's Valentine" and "The Devil's Advocate", will host the special screening. Tunie currently stars in the primetime drama "Law and Order: SVU" and the daytime drama "As The World Turns."

"As a company that is always interested in mining new talent, our ongoing search for the next generation of filmmakers led us to create the HBO Short Film Award and to partner with the ABFF seven years ago," said Olivia Smashum, Executive Vice President, Affiliate Marketing at HBO. " I have seen first-hand the impact that this competition has made and the doors it has opened for black filmmakers. I look forward to presenting this new group of talent at this year's ABFF festivities."

The 2004 HBO Short Film Award finalists are:

Hold Up, directed and produced by Tanya Boyd and written by Riyadh Miller, about a college student so desperate to be accepted into a fraternity that he endures a series of humiliating exercises. Humorous and suspenseful, the final task will force the student into a situation never imagined. Boyd, a Detroit native, began her artistic career as a singer and has appeared in several prestigious theatrical productions including "Jelly's Last Jam" and "No Place To Be Somebody." She has directed numerous theater productions and got her first opportunity to direct multi-camera on NBC's "Days of Our Lives, a soap she also starred in. In 1998 she directed her first short film, "The Gift."

One Flight Stand, directed, produced and written by Saladin K. Patterson, is a quirky story of a first date -- in business class. Can one commit to one seat for the rest of one's life ... er flight or will this relationship be another one flight stand? A prolific writer, Saladin is currently co- executive producer of FOX's "Bernie Mac" show. Formerly a producer of NBC's award-winning "Frasier," Saladin also has done writing for the theatrical films "The Fighting Temptations" and "Undercover Brother" and FOX's animated series "The PJ's." Saladin began his writing career as one of four writers chosen for the prestigious Walt Disney Writer's Fellowship Program in 1996. His first short film, "Da Sixth Sense," was an HBO Short Film Award finalist at the 2000 ABFF.

Shooter, directed by Todd Jeffrey and written by Abubakar Paul Bello, is the story of a young woman whose loyalty and desire to protect her family is put to the test when the police question her about her sister's possible involvement in a robbery. Todd, a graduate of San Francisco University, received an MFA in directing from the American Film Institute. He is the writer and director of several short films, including "Holdup," "Shooting James Dean" and "You Owe Us." Bello, a native Nigerian, began his career as a poet and short story writer for the underground poets in the United Kingdom. He has written shorts and features for the independent film market and the BBC.

The Memo, directed and written by Daheli Hall, follows a young woman's amusing efforts to use "any means necessary" to get a co-worker involved in the long awaited Black Revolution that is finally called through the release of "The Memo." A native of Miami, Hall holds a BFA in Drama from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Most recently she received an MFA from the University of Southern California. Her career spans from acting in independent films and theater to stand-up comedy and voice-over work in both New York and Los Angeles. "The Memo" marks her directorial debut. She is currently working on a documentary about Haiti's bicentennial.

Time Out, directed, produced and written by Xelinda Yancy, offers an emotional chapter into the world of a nine year-old girl whose life begins to change after a school incident opens up family secrets. Yancy, a graduate of Syracuse University School of Performing and Visual Arts, began her film production career as an associate producer for Court TV's "Catherine Crier Live." While attending the ABFF a few years ago, she met writer/director John Singleton who went on to offer her production positions on two of his films -- "Baby Boy" and "2 Fast 2 Furious." She collaborated with director Niva Dorell, co-producing the award winning short "Milk and Honey" and in 2003 added the title of director to her resume with her first short "Time Out."

The HBO Short Film Award, first given out at the 1998 ABFF, was created to celebrate the writing and directing talents of up-and-coming black filmmakers. A panel of distinguished African American directors and HBO executives will judge the final round of competition in South Beach. One filmmaker will be awarded the $20,000 grand prize during the festival's Film Life Movie Awards ceremony on closing night, with the four runners up each receiving $5,000. Last year, HBO presented the HBO Short Film Award grand prize to Frank E. Flowers, writer/director of "Swallow," a story about a high school senior who learns the art of the "swallow" when he takes on an unusual internship as a drug mule to make money for college.

Home Box Office, Inc., is the premium television-programming subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., providing two 24-hour premium television services, HBO and Cinemax. Together, both networks reach approximately 39 million subscribers in the United States via cable and satellite delivery. Home Box Office's international joint ventures bring HBO branded services to more than 50 countries around the globe.

The ABFF is a property of Film Life, Inc. a New York based film marketing and distribution company. Its mission is to spearhead the commercial development of independent Black films.

Time Warner is the world's leading media and entertainment company whose businesses include interactive services, cable systems, filmed entertainment, television networks, music and publishing.

CONTACT: Jodie Hauptmann for Home Box Office, Inc., +1-212-512-5431

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Date:Jun 29, 2004
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