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Inaugural HBCU First Look Film Festival Aims To Open Doors In Hollywood For The Next Generation

The Three-day Festival Will Take Place at Howard University November 10- 12 Bringing Together HBCU Students and Alumni to Premiere Film Screenings, Attend Educational Workshops, Network, Provide Industry Opportunities, and More

L to R: Shannon Henderson-, Antonio Cook- AARP, Sheila Eldridge-Miles Ahead Entertainment, Loni Love-comedienne, actor, Dr. Tyrha Lindsey-Waco Family & Faith Int. Festival, Glenda Gill-Save A Girl Save A World Foundation, Brandon Stevens-Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF).

LOS ANGELES, JUNE 22, 2023 – Miles Ahead Entertainment, in partnership with Howard University Film + Television Department, and the WHUR Radio Network, announced today the dates of the inaugural HBCU First LOOK Film Festival (, a new initiative created to showcase the next generation of filmmakers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Presented by AARP, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Café Mocha Network, and Save A Girl Save A World, the HBCU First LOOK Film Festival will take place at Howard University in Washington, DC on November 10- 12 with the aim to open doors for student creators by exposing their work to film industry professionals and facilitating internship and career opportunities.

The HBCU First LOOK Film Festival is a one-of-a-kind event dedicated to celebrating Black filmmakers while also helping to serve as a pipeline for more HBCU students to showcase and cultivate their talents. The First LOOK Film Festival builds on an incredible legacy of HBCU alum in film and television, which includes such luminaries as Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Kenya Barris, John David Washington, recent Oscar nominee Brian Tyree Henry, Till star Danielle Deadwyler, All American: Homecoming stars Geffri Maya and Peyton Alex Smith, and the undeniable Oprah Winfrey, among many others.

HBCU First LOOK Film Festival Founder and Howard University alumna Sheila Eldridge, CEO of the award-winning broadcast firm Miles Ahead Entertainment & Broadcasting, stated “the festival is a bridge for students and alumni in the HBCU diaspora by connecting students to real world executives who have successfully walked in their shoes, and connecting industry experts to young and emerging talent that will be the next “it” in film and television.”

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), which supports a network of public HBCUs and Predominantly Black Institutions, will partner with the HBCU First LOOK Film Festival to facilitate placements of internships, helping to build a diverse talent pipeline for the film industry. “This partnership with the First LOOK Film Festival offers another avenue to increase the representation of Black talent,” said TMCF President & CEO, Dr. Harry L. Williams. “TMCF’s intentional efforts to advance equity and inclusion align perfectly with Sheila’s vision.”

Howard University has served as a constant HBCU to Hollywood pipeline for decades, with acclaimed actress Phylicia Rashad now serving as Dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts.

“Howard University is committed to cultivating and supporting HBCU students in their pursuits of greatness and we are pleased to be a partner in bringing the HBCU First LOOK Film Festival to our campus this fall,” said Ingrid Sturgis, Film, Television, and Production Department Chair at Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communications. “This festival will bring together the best and most creative young filmmakers from HBCUs around the country who deserve to be seen, heard, and presented with opportunities to succeed.”

Festival attendees will experience screenings from both established and emerging filmmakers, empowering panel sessions featuring award-winning industry professionals, and skills-development and educational workshops. There will be exclusive networking opportunities to inspire and equip students for careers in front of and behind the camera.

Student finalists of the First LOOK Student Filmmaker Challenge will have their films screened during the festival in addition to a host of other independent films. HBCU students interested in participating in the challenge can currently submit their films to the HBCU First LOOK Student Filmmaker Challenge website through September 24 at

In partnership with, a series of HBCU First LOOK Film Master Classes have been produced from a spring HBCU First LOOK College Tour that made stops at Tennessee State University and Fisk University, North Carolina A&T and Bennett College, Norfolk State, and Elizabeth City State University. The series of panel discussions feature an array of award-winning HBCU professionals in the film industry from production and creative to business, that will air on and will be available On Demand via Café Mocha Network & TV.

Master Class panelists will be among the HBCU alumni invited to an LA screening reception presented by AARP on June 20 celebrating HBCU alumni in film and television and highlighting the HBCU First LOOK initiative. “AARP is proud to continuously support Historically Black Colleges and Universities in their mission to provide community-focused education and foster the talent of young Black scholars across the globe,” said Shani Hosten, Vice President of audience strategy in AARP's Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Media partners for the HBCU First LOOK Film Festival include: Howard University Television (WHUT), HBCUGO.TV, Howard University Radio Network, HBCU SiriusXM Channel 142, Café Mocha Radio., Howard University Television + Film, Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and L.A.I. Communications. Special tour sponsorship support includes Save A Girl Save A World/Speak UP! (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grantee), CTFK (Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids) and Black

HBCU First LOOK Film Festival tickets available online at

HBCU First LOOK Film Festival

The HBCU First LOOK Film Festival is inspiring a new generation of minority talent in the film, television, and broadcasting industry by providing HBCU students practical skills to improve their craft, creating spaces to showcase their work and connecting executives and students to establish a pipeline of talent and career opportunities.

Partnership contact:

Sheila Eldridge

201 887 5100


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