Akeelah and the Bee Named Outstanding Motion Picture of the

Presley Chweneyagae Takes Prize for Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role

By (BI) Susanna Daniel

ATLANTA -- Akeelah and the Bee was named Outstanding Motion Picture of the Year during Film Life's 2006 Black Movie Awards -- A Celebration of Black Cinema: Past, Present and Future. The movie took a total of 4 awards during the ceremony, which taped tonight at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles for telecast on Oct. 18, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT).

Other top winners include Presley Chweneyagae, who was honored as Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in Tsotsi, and Keke Palmer, honored as Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in Akeelah and the Bee.

Tyler Perry (Diary of a Mad Black Woman, House of Payne) hosted the gala awards show that recognizes creative achievement by persons of African descent in feature-length motion pictures, both in front of and behind the camera, and honors outstanding films portraying the Black experience. Film Life's 2006 BLACK MOVIE AWARDS are executive-produced by Jeff Friday, CEO of Film Life, Inc., and Suzanne de Passe, CEO of de Passe Entertainment. Returning for the second year are Suzanne Coston serving as producer, Ron De Moraes directing and Ruth Adkins Robinson segment producer and writer.

The 2006 BLACK MOVIE AWARDS also honored Laurence Fishburne as Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in Akeelah and the Bee and Angela Bassett as Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in Akeelah and the Bee. Spike Lee was awarded for Outstanding Achievement in Directing for his work on Inside Man and Kriss Turner took the prize for Outstanding Achievement in Writing for the movie Something New.

In addition to the competitive awards, several honorary awards were given. Oprah Winfrey presented the Distinguished Career Achievement Award to acclaimed actress Cicely Tyson, recognizing a career that includes such projects as The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Roots and Madea's Family Reunion, as well as Sounder, for which she earned an Oscar nomination. Kimberly Elise, Keke Palmer and Lynn Whitfield also paid tribute to Tyson.

Ruby Dee presented the Ossie Davis Humanitarian Award to Spike Lee, for his work bringing to light the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina through his HBO documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.

Angela Bassett and Cuba Gooding, Jr., the honoree's co-stars in ground- breaking films What's Love Got To Do With It? and Boyz n the Hood, presented Laurence Fishburne with Excellence in Arts Award.

Sidney J. Furie's 1972 movie biography of legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday became the second film inducted into the Black Movie Awards Classic Cinema Hall of Fame. Billy Dee Williams, who co-starred with Diana Ross in the film, was on-hand for the induction.

Nominees for and recipients of the 2006 BLACK MOVIE AWARDS were chosen by a prominent committee of film critics, entertainment editors and prestigious members of the artistic community. This year's eligible films were released in the U.S. between Aug. 1, 2005, and July 31, 2006.

Jeff Friday, creator of the Black Movie Awards and the American Black Film Festival (, has made a name in the film industry by providing opportunities for independent Black filmmakers to showcase their work to an ever-broadening audience through the American Black Film Festival (ABFF).

Since its inception, the ABFF has explored, rewarded and redefined artistic excellence in international Black cinema. It has grown to be recognized as the #1 film market for Black and urban content.

In addition to its film showcases, the ABFF is committed to nurturing artists in a variety of disciplines and offers educational workshops and seminars for actors, filmmakers and writers throughout the week.

The ABFF, founded in 1997, is a property of Film Life, Inc., a New York- based marketing, media and production company. Its mission is to spearhead the global distribution of quality Black films and be the leading American brand producing Black movies and related entertainment content.

Back for the second year, Oscar nominee Suzanne de Passe again serves as executive producer and writer. Her long list of award-winning, high- profile shows and specials includes the Emmy-winning Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever and Motown Returns to the Apollo. Additionally, she executive- produced The Essence Awards in 2002 and 2003, as well as the annual NAACP Image Awards over a three-year period, concluding in 2003. She has also executive-produced such memorable television miniseries as Lonesome Dove, The Jacksons: An American Dream, Buffalo Girls, Small Sacrifices and The Temptations. Her Academy Award nomination came for co-writing the screenplay for Lady Sings the Blues.

Outstanding Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role
* Presley Chweneyagae (as Tsotsi) - Tsotsi Miramax Films
Chiwetel Ejiofor (as Lola ) - Kinky Boots Miramax Films
Tyrese Gibson (as O2) - Waist Deep Rogue Pictures (Focus)
Cuba Gooding, Jr. (as Mikey) - Shadowboxer Freestyle Releasing
Denzel Washington (as Keith Frazier) - Inside Man Universal Pictures

Outstanding Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role
Mos Def (as Eddie Bunker) - 16 Blocks Warner Bros. Pictures
* Laurence Fishburne (as Dr. Larabee)
- Akeelah and the Bee Lionsgate
Jamie Foxx (as Staff Sgt. Sykes) - Jarhead Universal Pictures
Hubert Kounde (as Arnold Bluhm)
- The Constant Gardener Focus Features
Jeffrey Wright (as Bennett Holiday) - Syriana Warner Bros. Pictures

Outstanding Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role
Halle Berry (as Ororo Munro/Storm)
- X-Men: The Last Stand 20th Century Fox
Meagan Good (as Coco) - Waist Deep Rogue Pictures (Focus)
Sanaa Lathan (as Kenya McQueen) - Something New Focus Features
Queen Latifah (as Georgia Byrd) - Last Holiday Paramount/Universal
* Keke Palmer (as Akeelah) - Akeelah and the Bee Lionsgate

Outstanding Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role
* Angela Bassett (as Tanya Anderson)
- Akeelah and the Bee Lionsgate
Rosario Dawson (as Mimi Marquez) - Rent Sony Pictures
Lauren London (as New New) - ATL Warner Bros. Pictures
Lynn Whitfield (as Victoria)
- Madea's Family Reunion Lionsgate
Alfre Woodard (as Joyce McQueen) - Something New Focus Features

Outstanding Achievement In Screenwriting
Tina Gordon Chism - ATL Warner Bros. Pictures
Rob Hardy - The Gospel Screen Gems
Tyler Perry - Madea's Family Reunion Lionsgate
* Kriss Turner - Something New Focus Features
Norman Vance, Jr. - Roll Bounce Fox Searchlight Pictures

Outstanding Achievement In Directing
Vondie Curtis-Hall - Waist Deep Rogue Pictures (Focus)
Malcolm D. Lee - Roll Bounce Fox Searchlight Pictures
* Spike Lee - Inside Man Universal Pictures
Chris Robinson - ATL Warner Bros. Pictures
John Singleton - Four Brothers Paramount Pictures

Outstanding Motion Picture
* Akeelah and the Bee (Producers: Laurence Fishburne,
Nancy Hult Ganis, Sid Ganis, Danny Llewelyn,
Michael Romersa) Lionsgate
ATL (Producers: Dallas Austin, Jody Gerson, James
Lassiter, Will Smith, Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins) Warner Bros. Pictures
Four Brothers (Producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura) Paramount Pictures
Inside Man (Producer: Brian Grazer) Universal Pictures
Madea's Family Reunion (Producers: Reuben Cannon,
Tyler Perry) Lionsgate
Tsotsi (Producer: Peter Fudakowski) Miramax Films

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