The HBCU First LOOK Film Festival is a new initiative created to showcase the next generation of Black filmmakers at HBCUs. The inaugural film festival will take place November 10-12 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. This one-of-a- kind event will double as celebration of HBCU students and alumni that work in the film and broadcast industry while also providing students with networking and learning opportunities through master classes, panel discussions, and a film challenge.

“I’m excited to bring together a collective of partners who share my vision to build an annual initiative exclusively designed to serve as a unique pipeline for HBCU students,” said Sheila Eldridge, Festival Founder and CEO of the award-winning firm Miles Ahead Entertainment & Broadcasting, in an official HBCU First Look Film Festival press release.

The theme of the three-day event is “A Celebration of Black Filmmakers Rooted in HBCU Culture,” which will kick off on November 10th with “Opening Night at the Movies.” The film Rustin will be featured, which tells the story of Bayard Rustin a significant figure in the 1963. March on Washington. Former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama are the executive producers of the film which is directed George C. Wolfe.

Several celebrity guests will be in attendance including All-American: Homecoming star Peyton Alex Smith, Actress Terri J. Vaughn, and They Cloned Tyrone produce Stephen” Dr” Love to name a few. Hampton University alumna and award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter will be the keynote speaker for the My HBCU Joy: Welcome Luncheon. In addition, in a session hosted by TV One media icon Cathy Hughes will announce film challenge finalists and announce the $5,000 grand prize winner.

This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss, more for information and tickets visit

Below is the agenda for the three-day event.

Friday, November 10th:


Open Registration


Running Concurrent – Friday & Saturday

12noon – 5pm Theater

“We Gotta Have It” Film marathon:  Two days of continuous curated film screenings featuring HBCU First LOOK student filmmaker challenge finalists with independent HBCU alumni film premieres.

“Hustle & Flow” Jumpstart YOUR Career! Learn about and sign up for internships and meet vendors in the Lounge:  Learn about summer 2024 internships and one-on-one mentorship opportunities.

11:00 – 12noon

“Waiting To Exhale”:  A Cinematic Journey Through Documentary Filmmaking with award-winning producer Lisa Durden

Join us for “Waiting to Exhale: A Cinematic Journey Through Documentary Filmmaking” and unlock the power of storytelling through the lens of a documentary filmmaker. Your voice, your story, and your vision can change the world, and this workshop will equip you with the skills to do just that.

Embark on a captivating voyage into the world of documentary filmmaking with our immersive workshop, “Waiting to Exhale: A Cinematic Journey Through Documentary Filmmaking.” In this enriching and hands-on experience, you'll delve into the art and craft of documentary storytelling, gaining insights and skills that will empower you to create compelling narratives that inspire, inform, and provoke change.

12:15 – 1:15pm

TV One Presents:  Conversation with Urban One Founder and Chairperson Cathy Hughes where seven HBCU First LOOK Film finalists will be announced with the winner receiving a $5,000 grand prize

1:30 – 2:30pm

“The Best Man’:  How to Land a Role as an Actor with “All American” star Peyton Alex Smith. The HBCU First Look Film Festival is beyond excited to announce the young and fly Peyton Alex Smith is taking the stage. The All American: Homecoming TV series Actor and Florida A&M University graduate lend his experience to those who want to tap into their acting bag – giving you tips from his journey.

3 – 4pm 

“Set It Off”:  Join us for a Master Class in the Director’s Chair with award-winning actress, director, and producerTerri J. Vaughn. Also a content creator, she is enthusiastic about the art of directing. This multi-hyphenated artist relishes in the opportunity to connect with and entertain her audience as the director. Vaughn aims to tell engaging, enlightening, and humorous stories in an inspirational and relatable way.

4:30 – 6pm 

 Transportation to Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).

6:30 – 9:00pm

Reception, Screening & Talk Back 

“HBCU First LOOK Opening Night at the Movies”Presented by Netflix kicks off with “Rustin” Screening & Talk Back at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Produced by former President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, “Rustin” is the story of Bayard Rustin one of the greatest civil right activists and organizers of the 60s who challenged authority and never apologized for who he was and what he believed! FREE REGISTRATION FOR SCREENING ONLY

Saturday November 11th:


Open Registration


10:00 – 11:30 am

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Academy) Information Session on Talent Development and Inclusion Programs and Workshop on Crafting a Dynamic Resume for Success in Film Industry

Learn about Academy Gold Talent Development and Inclusion Programs
An inside look into programs and fellowships focused on early and mid-career film industry opportunities, and how to apply as a university student or alumnus.

Crafting a Dynamic Resume for Success in the Film Industry 

Are you eager to break into the film industry? Then the Gold Rising Internship Enhancement Summer Program is for you. Join us for an exclusive workshop led by the Academy’s Niti Shah, where you will learn how to build a dynamic resume aimed to help set you on the path to success. This workshop is designed to provide the essential tools and knowledge needed to stand out in the competitive world of film and entertainment.

10:00 – 11:15am

“From Dream to Screen: How to Finance and Distribute Your Movie” with Curtis Symonds, co-founder and CEO of HBCUGo.TV  and producers BK Fulton and Courtney Glaude (“The Reading”).

12noon – 1:30pm 

Luncheon – “My HBCU JOY” Cafe Mocha Radio filmmakers Welcome Lunch with honoree and keynote speakerRuth E. Carter, two-time Academy award-winning costume designer, author, and Hampton University alumna.

1:45 – 2:15pm

A View from Corporate Seat, Marketing Track 

Join us for the conversation “A View from the Corporate Seat: Marketing Panel Discussion” featuring HBCU alumni Jawn Murray, Executive Producer of Sherri Shepard’s ‘Sherri' hailing from Norfolk State University; Caralene Robinson, Howard University's own Film Producer; and Shani Hosten, AARP’s Vice President, Audience Strategy Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion from Hampton University! Learn how to maneuver and market your projects in the entertainment industry.

2:30 – 3:30pm

“They Cloned Tyrone”:  Join us for a Master Class with Producer & Morehouse alum, Stephen “Dr” Love.

3:30 – 4:45pm

The Academy Presents a Conversation with Two-Time Academy Award®-Winner Ruth E. Carter (“Black Panther”) and Kim Taylor-Coleman (“BlacKkKlansman”) 

If you’ve ever watched a Spike Lee or Tyler Perry film, chances are you’ve seen the work of costume designer Ruth E. Carter and casting director Kim Taylor-Coleman. Join us for an intimate conversation on craft and culture with Ruth and Kim as they discuss their paths into the industry and what it takes to have a successful career in entertainment. Moderator: Tim Gordon, Film Executive and Film Critic.

4:00 – 5:00pm 

HBCU First LOOK Film Festival finalists’ one-on-one sessions with producers & Pitch Contest (open to all student attendees).

5:30 – 6:30pm 

HBCU FIRST Reception/Mixer /Feature DJ/Photo Opportunities – Food & honor the $5000.00 grand prize winner and all who submitted films. 

7:00 – 8:30pm

HBCU First LOOK Closing Night at the Movies –ESPN Presents “The Crossover: 50 years of Hip Hop and Sports” E60 sports with a surprise performance. 

Sunday November 12th:

8:15 AM – 12:30 PM

Closing Day Film Screening

The festival concludes by coming together for faith service at Cramton Auditorium.