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Urban World Festival Featuring Queen Latifah To Take Place 9/10/-14


The Urbanworld Film Festival presented by BET Networks, the largest international competitive festival of its kind, today announced that Academy Award-nominated actress Queen Latifah will serve as Honorary Chair of this year’s festival. Dedicated to the exhibition of independent and mainstream cinema by and about people of color, Urbanworld also announced it will screen 85 films at this year’s festival in New York City from September 10-14. All festival screenings will be held at the AMC Loews 34th Street Theaters.

This year’s selection showcases New York-based films and filmmakers celebrating local artists and communities, as well as a strong representation of international filmmakers from around the world.  The 2008 slate will culminate in the special closing night screening of The Secret Life of Bees, followed by a Q&A with talent from the film including Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo (‘Hotel Rwanda’), and screenwriter/director Gina Prince-Bythewood (‘Love & Basketball’).

"These are really exciting times for the festival," said Stacy Spikes, founder of Urbanworld.  "On display we have films of nearly every genre, created by filmmakers of nearly every background. This robust selection of cinema, together with our new partnership with BET Networks, promises to make this the best Urbanworld yet.”

“We’re thrilled to have hip-hop’s first lady Queen Latifah sign on as honorary chair for this year’s festivities,” said Alvin Bowles, Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing, BET Networks. “The exciting lineup of cinematic talent rounds out our mission to embrace and support the new wave of filmmakers of color through our partnership with Urbanworld.”

“I am thrilled to be the honorary chair of the Urbanworld Film Festival this year,” said Queen Latifah.  “It is an important and exciting festival and the perfect place to showcase my new film The Secret Life of Bees.”

The five-day festival includes feature, documentary, and short film screenings, as well as panel discussions, live staged screenplay readings and the celebrated Actor’s Spotlight, featuring Queen Latifah and to be aired on BET, with previous honorees including Vondie Curtis Hall, Samuel L. Jackson, Billy Dee Williams and Rosie Perez.

Urbanworld and BET Networks also announced this year’s roster of marquee sponsors.  HBO returns for the 12th year as the founding sponsor of the Urbanworld Film Festival.  Time Warner Cable joins the festival as a Prestige Sponsor. Grey Goose will serve as an Official Sponsor.  Principal Sponsors will include The Weinstein Company, WNBC, Black Enterprise, ESSENCE, VIBE, and Power 105.1.  The Directors Guild of America and AMC Theatres return as Benefactor Sponsors. Sponsoring studios include Fox Searchlight and The Weinstein Company. The Hilton Times Square will serve as the host hotel of the festival, where registration and panels will take place.

Highlights and Notable Films of 2008 Urbanworld Film Festival Include:

The Secret Life Of Bees, the special closing night screening, written for the screen and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and stars Queen Latifah (the Festival’s Honorary Chair), Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo.  A touching story about the need for love, family and redemption, THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES explores our undeniable desire for a sense of belonging and the often daunting journeys that we must navigate to achieve it. Set in South Carolina during the turbulent Civil Rights era, the home of the intelligent and independent honey-making Boatwright sisters (Latifah, Keys and Okonedo) is suddenly thrust into upheaval with the arrival of fourteen year-old Lily Owens (Fanning) and her caretaker Rosaleen (Hudson).  Surrounded by the unexpected comforts, grace and deep rooted spirituality Lily (Fanning) encounters in the Boatwright home, she forms a maternal bond with each of these women whose unique and special gifts help reconcile the loss of her mother.  Lily ultimately comes to the realization that sometimes you must leave home in order to find it.  The film is scheduled for nationwide release on October 17, 2008.

Wu: The Story Of The Wu Tang Clan, directed by Gerald Barclay, is a gritty documentary that traces the history of the ever-popular Wu-Tang Clan.  In the summer of 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan emerged from the slums of Staten Island and took the hip-hop world by storm.  Their legacy spanned over a decade, garnering fans worldwide and generating sales in excess of $50 million.  

For more information about the 2008 Urbanworld Film Festival presented by BET Networks, please visit or or


Beginning this year, BET Networks has signed on for a three-year strategic partnership to present the Urbanworld Film Festival. The unique partnership, strengthened by BET’s position as the leading media and entertainment provider for African Americans and consumers of Black culture, will further establish the festival as one of the world’s largest competitive film festivals designed to redefine and enhance the roles of multicultural constituents in contemporary cinema. 


BET Networks, a division of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 87 million households according to Nielsen Media Research, and can be seen in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions:, a leading internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET Digital Networks - BET J, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and Production Company; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, an extension of BET network programming for global distribution. 


Urbanworld launched in August 1997 and was founded by former executive at Miramax Stacy Spikes. Over the past eleven years, Urbanworld has presented approximately 700 features, shorts and documentaries, with estimated attendance reaching 15,000+. Now in its twelfth year, the Urbanworld Film Festival is the largest internationally competitive festival of its kind.  Urbanworld re-defines the competitive film festival landscape with its fresh and necessary approach to spreading the voices of a multicultural world. The Urbanworld Film Festival is an initiative produced by the Urbanworld Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to implementing programs and events that support the development and success of the urban filmmaking community.  Stacy Spikes serves as chairman emeritus. Gabrielle Glore serves as executive producer. 



Closing Night Film: the secret life of bees directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood

Spotlight Screenings Include:

wu: the story of the wu-tang clan directed by Gerald Barclay

tennessee directed by Aaron Woodley

Narrative Features Include 16 Films:

ball don’t lie directed by Brin Hill

ballast directed by Lance Hammer

cigarettes for breakfast directed by Daniel Williams

I Used To love her directed by Mark Harris
jazz in the diamond district directed by Lindsey Christian
phanTom Punch directed by Robert Townsend

seal team vi directed by Mark Andrews

second chance directed by Iris Huey
sister’s keeper directed by Kent Faulcon

something is killing tate directed by Leon Lozano

streetballers directed by Matt Krentz

the heart specialist directed by Dennis Cooper

this is not a test directed by Christopher Angel

truth hall directed by Jade Dixon

up with me directed by Greg Takoudes

white lies black sheep directed by James Spooner

Narrative Shorts Include 40 Films: 
(mis) leading man directed by Morocco Omari

3rd of july directed by Ben Chace

a day’s work directed by Rajeev Dassani
a prayer directed by Louie P.

afia directed by Lacey Duke

awilda and the bee directed by Lyndon McCray
black history month:  The Movie directed by Buttahman

classified directed by SHerman Payne
crenshaw nights directed by Pete D. Gelles
expectations of a father directed by Jerry E

hollywood jerome directed by Frey Hoffman
kung fu granny directed by Myra Sito Velasquez

larry (the actor) directed by Eric Poydar
limpiano sapos directed by Vero Shamo-Garcia

linus directed by Julius Onah
lo directed by Joe Kim

love conquers al directed by Kamali Minter 
nappy heads directed by Sabrina Moëlla

over da rainbow directed by Jared Lapidus

palm trees down 3rd street directed by Maria Judice

papichulo directed by Marquis Smalls
premature directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green

shy directed by April Rouveyrol
siri oko fo directed by Heather Murphy

south central daze directed by Marquise C.

the doll directed by Dante James
the prince of venice directed by Yaa Boaa Aning

the second coming directed by Ya'Ke Smith
the soul searchers series: get thee behind me directed by Jeffrey Wray
the young and evil directed by Julian Breece
uk spotlight – blank slate shorts program (8 films) 

urban genesis directed by Larry Bryant
victim directed by Cesar Mazariegos

Documentary Features Include 19 Films: 
adjust your color: the truth of petey greene directed by Loren Mendell

all of us directed by Emily Abt

arusi directed by Marjan Tehrani

ballou directed by Michael Patrei
bigg snoop dogg’s youth authority directed by Gabriel London

calavera highway directed by Renee Tajima-Pena
diary of a tired black man directed by Tim Alexander

familiar voices directed by Danny Mendoza

in prison my whole life directed by Marc Evans

la americana directed by Nicholas Bruckman

malcolm’s echo: the legacy of malcolm x directed by Dami Akinnusi

number one with a bullet directed by James Dziura

one bad cat directed by Thomas G. Miller
slingshot hip-hop directed by Jackie Salloum

something out of nothing directed by Robert Small

the other side of the water directed by Jeremy Robins

the real great debaters directed by Brad Osborne

this is the life directed by Ava DuVernay

two turntables and a microphone directed by Guy Logan

Documentary Shorts Include 7 Films: 
50 shots directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green

el play directed by Pablo Medina
fresh of the boat by Katrina Lucas

juror number six directed by Rachel Lyon

seen but not heard directed by Cyrille Phipps
the 13th amendment directed by Mike D.
ursula rucker - poet directed by Michael J. Dennis

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