ABFF Ventures Rebrands to Nice Crowd, Announces Annual Comedy Festival in Washington, D.C. (EXCLUSIVE)

As the American Black Film Festival kicks off its 27th edition in Miami Beach, Fla. on Wednesday night, the company behind the fest, ABFF Ventures, is announcing a rebrand.

The events entertainment company, led by founder and CEO Jeff Friday and president Nicole Friday, will now be called Nice Crowd, evoking the brand’s dedication to spotlighting BIPOC culture and achievements while emphasizing the power of gathering.

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In addition to the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) and the annual ABFF Honors ceremony, Nice Crowd will expand its annual offerings to include comedy, health & wellness, food and fine art-focused events. The first new event under the Nice Crowd banner will be “Because They’re Funny” (BTF), a comedy festival showcasing comedic talent within BIPOC communities that will launch this October in Washington, D.C.

“We are so thrilled to announce our new comedy festival, Because They’re Funny, which launches in Washington, D.C., the hometown of many of today’s most beloved comedians of color,” the Fridays said in a statement announcing the rebrand. “While we proudly reflect on this festival and the company’s many accomplishments over the years, we look forward to an even brighter future, with even more incredible event offerings, as Nice Crowd.”

The inaugural comedy festival will take place from Oct. 6 to Oct. 8, with events held at the Anthem Theater and other premier venues along The Wharf, a popular entertainment hub on Washington, D.C.’s southwest waterfront. BTF is presented in partnership with Events D.C., the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia. Cadillac is the festival’s presenting sponsor and exclusive automotive partner.

Of the new partnership, Events D.C. CEO Angie Gates said: “Not only will the festival bring new, emerging and fantastic talent by people of color to our city, but it will support our local creatives, our theaters and performance spaces, their employees and the nation’s capital as a whole. We love welcoming visitors to our diverse and inclusive city while celebrating creativity and having a great time.”

Founded in 1997, the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) showcases Black filmmakers, actors, writers and stand-up comedians with a focus on discovering new voices. This year’s opening night selection is Netflix’s conspiratorial caper film “They Cloned Tyrone,” which stars John Boyega, Teyonah Parris and Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx. The film, directed by Juel Taylor from a script he co-wrote with Tony Rettenmaier, will make its world premiere at the festival. ABFF runs June 14 to June 18 in Miami Beach, presented in partnership with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, followed by a virtual program, available June 19 to June 25 on ABFF Play. Emmy-winning writer, actor and producer Lena Waithe serves as the 2023 festival ambassador.

About the rebrand to Nice Crowd, Connie Kinnard, GMCVB’s Senior Vice President of Multicultural Tourism & Development, stated: “This momentous occasion not only signifies growth and innovation for the organization but also highlights the immense inspiration ABFF has had on Greater Miami’s multicultural programming such as the Art of Black Miami. We welcome ABFF’s unwavering dedication in fostering meaningful connections and shining a spotlight on diverse talent. ABFF Ventures’ transformative impact to Greater Miami’s tourism landscape is truly remarkable and anything that grows their audience is also beneficial to the Miami and Miami Beach community.”

Following ABFF, the company will host an international screening series event in London, from Sept. 1-3. The ABFF Global Film Series visits a new city each year and is intended to “promote the universal appeal of Black content while encouraging collaboration between artists throughout the African Diaspora.” The 2023 edition will take place at the British Film Institute in the U.K. in partnership with S.O.U.L Fest.

The sixth ABFF Honors will be held in March 2024 in Los Angeles, saluting Black artists who have made significant contributions to the entertainment industry through their work and champion diversity and inclusion in Hollywood. The 2023 ceremony honored Kerry Washington, Courtney B. Vance, Janelle Monáe, Macro’s Charles D. King and Kasi Lemmons’ groundbreaking drama “Eve’s Bayou.”

Additional events — including a gathering of food enthusiasts, a festival centered on exercise and wellness and a multi-day gallery dedicated to showcasing contemporary Black art — are set to be announced for 2024.

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