This article may rely excessively on sources too closely associated with the subject, potentially preventing the article from being verifiable and neutral. Please help improve it by replacing them with more appropriate citations to reliable, independent, third-party sources. (August 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

African-American Film Critics Association
TypeFilm criticism
Official language

The African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) is the world's largest group of Black film critics that gives various annual awards for excellence in film and television.[1][2] It was founded in 2003 in New York City. In 2023 Variety stated that since it started, "the organization’s purpose was clear: to amplify Black voices in film criticism and arts entertainment journalism from across the African Diaspora."[3]


The association was founded in 2003[4] by Gil L. Robertson IV and Shawn Edwards. They met in New York City after a press junket, and were both concerned with the lack of themed stories in the film industry from the African Diaspora. In several weeks, the two of them were supported by other colleagues in their plan to create an association of black film critics. They drafted the initial outline for the association while in Los Angeles. In December 2003, the African-American Film Critics Association officially announced the start of its organization, and released its first "Top Ten List."[5]

In 2019, the association began giving awards to television shows in the spring.[6] AAFCA also joined with the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association (LEJA), and the Online Association of Female Film Critics (OAFFC) to form the Critics Groups for Equality in Media to "help foster greater diversity in entertainment journalism" through various initiatives including a "watchdog" grading system.[7]


The association actively reviews cinema overall, but highlights films about the African-American experience.[8] The AAFCA produces awareness for films with widespread appeal to the black community while stressing the importance of films produced, written, directed and starring people of African descent. Members also involve themselves in advocacy work for students interested in film journalism and criticism.

The AAFCA also curates resources guides and lists of historically or culturally significant black films.[9]

The organization gives out awards for a variety of categories. Best Feature Film, Best Documentary, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Foreign Film, Best Screenplay, and Best Original Song. The AAFCA also gives out an award for Special Achievement. Honorees for this award are chosen by committee on the basis of their lifetime achievements.[10] Past recipients of the Special Achievement award included Jamie Foxx, John Singleton,[11] Edward James Olmos, Ruth E. Carter, Pearlena Igbokwe, Channing Dungey, Sherry Lansing,[10] and Spike Lee.[12]


Members of AAFCA are a geographically diverse range of journalists who cover every genre of film and represent numerous mediums such as television, radio broadcast, online, and print. Membership into the AAFCA is by invitation only, with approval of the Board of Governors.

There are three classifications for membership in the AAFCA; active member, associate member, and student.[13] An active member is one who writes regular film criticism for a medium with a minimum of 24 to qualify and must be based in the United States. Once accepted the active member must have a constant presence in the critique of commercial American films. An associate member is one who writes regular film coverage for a medium and must express their affiliation with an established media body by providing a written letter on company letterhead. Finally, a minimum of twelve samples of film critique is needed for consideration. A student member is one who is attending an accredited college or university and is majoring in journalism or broadcast media.

Special programs

Panel discussions led by an AAFCA member are also offered by the association.[14] One such panel is about the concept of diversity in modern films. It accentuates an understanding that each individual is special and different. The differences may run along lines of race, ethnicity, gender socio-economic status, physical abilities, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. The panel explores the role cinema plays in understanding one another and to go beyond a simplistic message of tolerance to one of celebrating and acceptance of the plentiful dimensions of diversity in every person.

Another panel entitled "What Every Filmmaker Needs to Know about Film Critics", explores the important areas filmmakers must know when making a film. Film critics influence the success and failure of a film through their reviews so this panel attempts to help new filmmakers. It discusses the significance of plot lines and story narrative in films, the deliberations that must go into casting a film, and the crucial technical and imaginative elements filmmakers should reflect on before presenting their work to the public.[citation needed]

The final program offered by the AAFCA is the Junior Critic Program. Working with the historically black colleges and universities, the AAFCA selects four journalism students who demonstrate a talent and/or interest in film to cover a film promotional event as a working journalist. The selection process for the students is based on academic or department recommendations and an interview with an AAFCA member. The representative chaperones the selected student for the media event and then provides assistance with the final report.

In 2017, the AAFCA produced a series of screenings and panels honoring the late Prince at libraries and museums in Kansas City, Denver, Atlanta and Broward County, Florida.[15]

In 2023, the AAFCA partnered with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts to present "The Struggle to be Seen" a series of panels on challenges faced by Black industry professionals.[16]

2009 Scandal

In 2009, the big winner at the African American Film Critics Association was Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire. The adaption won best picture, best director, best screenplay, and best supporting actress. The film's star, Gabourey Sidibe, did not win best actress, in favor of Nicole Beharie from American Violet.[17]

After the awards, gossip blogger Roger Friedman of The Hollywood Reporter reported the tally had been manipulated by the group's president, Gil Robertson IV. Friedman posed that Robertson was to receive a bribe in the form of a donation from the producers affiliated with American Violet.[18]

The issue sparked infighting among the group leading to a splintering. Three founding members of the AAFCA—Shawn Edwards of FOX-TV, Wilson Morales of Blackvoices, and Mike Sargent WBAI-FM/—withdrew and created a new group, the Black Film Critics Circle.[19] The new group includes five other former AAFCA members[20] and officially debuted in February 2010. In the founding announcement, the Black Film Critics Circle made known that they were going to "maintain the integrity of a true critics organization".[20]

In a statement released December 28, 2009, and signed by 15 of the group's members, Robertson denied all accusations related to ballot tampering, and wished any group wanting to further black film appreciation the best.[20] The only evidence to the controversy on the AAFCA website is the inclusion that "Effective January 1, 2010, final tabulations for all AAFCA Award categories will be handled by Beverly Hills accountant W. Steven Temple"[8]

Executive team

Advisory board

Top Ten Films of the Year

Year Winner Top Films of the Year
2003[23] The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004[24] Ray
2005[25] Crash
2006[26] Dreamgirls
2007[27] The Great Debaters
2008[28] The Dark Knight
2009[29] Precious
2010[30] The Social Network
2011[31] The Tree of Life
2012[32] Zero Dark Thirty
2013 12 Years a Slave[33]
2014 Selma[34]
2015[35] Straight Outta Compton
2016[36] Moonlight
2017[37] Get Out
2018[38] Black Panther
2019[39][40] Us
2022[41][42][43] The Harder They Fall
2023[44][45][46] The Woman King
2024[47] American Fiction



  1. ^ a b c d "African-American Film Critics Association: Best Screenplay Ava DuVernay 'Middle of Nowhere'". Script Magazine. December 17, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  2. ^ "Jordan Peele's 'Us' Named Best Film by African-American Film Critics Association". The Hollywood Reporter. December 10, 2019. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  3. ^ Fluker, Dominique (March 1, 2023). "AAFCA Celebrates 20 Years of Amplifying Black Voices in Film and TV". Variety. Retrieved November 10, 2023.
  4. ^ "African-American Film Critics Association Selects". BlackRadioNetwork. Retrieved April 14, 2023.
  5. ^ "African-American Film Critic Association". Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  6. ^ "'When They See Us' Dominates African American Film Critics Association's Inaugural TV Honors". The Hollywood Reporter. July 23, 2019. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  7. ^ Malkin, Marc (June 19, 2019). "Film and TV Critics Announce Coalition to Increase Diversity in Entertainment Journalism (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  8. ^ a b "African-American Film Critic Association". Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  9. ^ "110 Important Films About the Black Experience". Retrieved April 16, 2023.
  10. ^ a b Evans, Greg (March 20, 2023). "African American Film Critics Association Names 2023 Special Achievement Awards Recipients". Deadline. Retrieved April 16, 2023.
  11. ^ Barboza (2009), p. 183
  12. ^ "December 2006 | | reviews | film | AFRICAN AMERICAN FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION 2006 AWARDS". Retrieved April 16, 2023.
  13. ^ "African-American Film Critic Association". Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  14. ^ "African-American Film Critic Association". Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  15. ^ "African-American Film Critics Association to Honor Prince's Film Legacy Across the Country". Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  16. ^ "BAFTA and AAFCA Launch Black History Month Conversation Series: "The Struggle to be Seen: The Challenges of Breaking Through for Black Creatives"". February 22, 2023. Retrieved April 16, 2023.
  17. ^ thelostboy (December 17, 2009). ""Precious" For African-American Film Critics". IndieWire. Retrieved April 14, 2023.
  18. ^ Showbiz411 Archived December 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Black Film Critics Circle". Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  20. ^ a b c Ryzik, Melena (January 8, 2010). "Dissension Splinters African-American Critics Group". The New York Times. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  21. ^ "Oscar Nominees Include Zero Nonwhite Actors". The Hollywood Reporter. January 14, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  22. ^ Robertson, Gil IV (July 22, 2016). "[COOL JOBS HOLLYWOOD] Be a Sound Mixer". EBONY. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  23. ^ "December 2003 | | features | aafca top ten list". Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  24. ^ "BLACK FILM CRITICS CHOOSE 'RAY': Jamie Foxx Honored With Special Achievemen". December 16, 2010. Archived from the original on December 16, 2010. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  25. ^ "Crash Speeds To The Top". CINEMABLEND. December 30, 2005. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  26. ^ ""Dreamgirls" tops African-American Film Critics Awards". EDGE Media Network. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  27. ^ "December 2007 | | reviews | film | AFRICAN AMERICAN FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION 2006 AWARDS". Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  28. ^ "December 2008 | | African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA)". Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  29. ^ Heard, Kevin (December 16, 2009). "African-American Film Critics Association Picks 'Precious'". cleveland. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  30. ^ Knegt, Peter (December 13, 2010). "African-American Critics Go For "The Social Network"". IndieWire. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  31. ^ Grosz, Christy (December 12, 2011). "African-American Film Critics Choose "Tree of Life"". Variety. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  32. ^ "African-American Film Critics Association: Best Screenplay Ava DuVernay 'Middle of Nowhere'". Script Magazine. December 17, 2012. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  33. ^ "African-American Film Critics Association Reveals Its Top 10 Films of 2013". The Hollywood Reporter. December 13, 2013. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  34. ^ "African-American Film Critics Association Lauds 'Selma'". The Hollywood Reporter. December 8, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  35. ^ McNary, Dave (December 7, 2015). "'Straight Outta Compton' Named Top Film by African-American Film Critics". Variety. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  36. ^ "'Moonlight' Named Best Picture by the African American Film Critics Association". The Hollywood Reporter. December 12, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  37. ^ "'Get Out' Named Best Film by African American Film Critics Association". The Hollywood Reporter. December 12, 2017. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  38. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (December 11, 2018). "'Black Panther' Named Best Film By African American Film Critics Association". Deadline. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  39. ^ Obenson, Tambay (December 10, 2019). "'Us' Leads African American Film Critics Association's 2019 Awards and Ten Best List". IndieWire. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  40. ^ McNary, Dave (December 10, 2019). "Jordan Peele's 'Us' Named Best Movie of 2019 by African-American Film Critics Association". Variety. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  41. ^ "AAFCA AWARDS - AAFCA". January 17, 2022. Archived from the original on January 24, 2022. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
  42. ^ Inman, DeMicia (January 18, 2022). "'The Harder They Fall' Wins Big At African American Film Critics Association Awards". VIBE. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
  43. ^ Hipes, Patrick (December 8, 2021). "African American Film Critics Top 10 Films Led By 'The Harder They Fall', 'Respect', 'King Richard'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
  44. ^ Verhoeven, Beatrice (January 16, 2023). "African American Film Critics Association Reveals 2023 AAFCA Award Winners". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 16, 2023.
  45. ^ Jones, Marcus (March 2, 2023). "2023 AAFCA Awards Gave Black Filmmakers a Moment to Feel Heard". IndieWire. Retrieved April 16, 2023.
  46. ^ "African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) Top 10 Films of 2022: 'The Woman King' named Best Picture - AwardsWatch". December 8, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2023.
  47. ^ "African American Film Critics Association Awards: 'American Fiction,' 'The Color Purple' and 'Origin' Nab Top Honors". Retrieved February 5, 2024.

Works cited