African-American presence in the independent film industry is greater than ever and with a historically groundbreaking president now in office, this year’s Hollywood Black Film Festival will be the largest yet. For six days, HBFF takes over Beverly Hills’ Laemmle Music Hall and Fine Arts Theatre with shorts, features, animations and documentaries with titles like Don’t Fall Down In The Hood and Rapping With Shakespeare.

But the 10th annual festival is more than just movies – it’s a one-stop event for all things Urban Hollywood. In addition to student films, evening programs “for grown folks” and an opening night showing of Obama: Tears of Joy, HBFF offers an eclectic weekend of infotainment conferences, script-readings, writing workshops, spoken word, networking opportunities and (of course) parties for the black filmmaker in all of us.

The festival – known as “The Black Sundance” – attracts stars across the spectrum from Sidney Poitier and Forest Whitaker to Ice-T and Rev Run, fusing the best in African-American culture with the best in black cinema and creating a hotbed of resources for those carrying on the torch.

The Crown Plaza Hotel will play host to HBFF’s industry-famous Infotainment Conference where hundreds of industry professionals (from lawyers, directors, writers and agents to actors and accountants) hold seminars, conferences, workshops and panels like Thursday’s “Dissecting Distribution” and Sunday’s “Get the Hollywood Look.”

As much a festival for movie lovers as movie creators (or hopeful-creators), HBFF combines Pitchathons and “legendary” speaker series with nighttime screenings of eclectic films from the best in independent black filmmaking leaving attendees with the difficult choice between schmoozing with John Singleton at the HBFF-sponsored X Bar party or staying at the Laemmle for a 9 p.m. showing of the Samuel L. Jackson-voiced manga feature, Afro Samurai: Resurrection.

For more information, visit