BET Networks and Urbanworld Announce ‘Urbanworld Film Festival’

BET Networks today announced a three-year strategic partnership to present the Urbanworld Film Festival. The unique partnership, bolstered by BET’s position as the leading media and entertainment provider for African Americans and consumers of Black culture, will further establish the festival, now in its 12th year, as one of the world’s largest competitive film festivals designed to redefine and enhance the roles of multicultural constituents in contemporary cinema. This year’s festival will be held in Manhattan from Wednesday, September 10 through Sunday, September 14.

The Urbanworld Film Festival will feature studio premieres, independent film screenings, panels, screenplay readings, talent spotlights, and an awards brunch honoring the festival’s winners. As a result of the new collaboration, this year’s festival will be a larger and more exciting experience with a host of new elements featured.

“We’re thrilled to join efforts with Urbanworld and sponsor this incredibly important event,” said Janet Rolle, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, BET Networks. “BET Networks is committed to delivering to our audience content that explores a broad range of the Black experience, so it’s extremely exciting and significant for us to expand our efforts and support filmmakers of color through this new partnership.”

“As the leading entertainment destination for African Americans and consumers of Black culture, BET Networks has made it our mission to identify the best and most compelling ways for our audience to engage with our brand,” said Alvin Bowles, Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing, BET Networks. “By teaming up with Urbanworld, we’re looking forward to combining the power of our brand with the foremost film festival for our community.”

“We are very excited to have BET join the festival as the Presenting Sponsor. This alliance will usher in a new era for films by and about people of color,” said Stacy Spikes, founder of Urbanworld. “Our partnership will galvanize Urbanworld’s vision to deliver these universal stories to the widest audience possible, via Theatrical, TV, Online and Mobile distribution platforms.”

During its tenure, the festival has screened more than 700 urban-themed independent films and has been a launching pad for a host of major breakout films such as Collateral, Hustle and Flow, Hero, Soul Food, Rush Hour 2, and Barbershop, and has also attracted the industry’s hottest stars, including Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, to name a couple. Urbanworld is the premier event showcasing films by and about people of color.

As part of the alliance, BET will serve as the exclusive global telecast/video partner, providing pre- and post-event exposure on the network and at in support of the festival. In addition, BET will work in partnership with Urbanworld to expand their offerings throughout the year and into new media outlets, aggressively cross-promoting the festival to consumer and trade constituents.

The Urbanworld Film Festival is currently accepting submissions for the 2008 festival. Submission information is available at or, with competitive categories that include narrative feature, narrative short, documentary feature, documentary short, and screenplay. The submission deadline is Saturday, May 31.