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The 18th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival kicked off Wednesday, showcasing the best screenplays, features and more from independent and urban artist.

The 5-day festival included over 70 film screenings, celeb packed panels plus live screenplay readings and Global Grind was there to capture all of the excitement. Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond The Lights jump started the movie screenings on Thursday night.

The feature tells the story of Noni Jean, a hot new artist who is primed for stardom. But the pressures of success compel her to nearly end her life until she is saved by a young police officer. They fall hard for each other, despite the protests of their parents, who want each to focus on their own career ambitions.

We caught up with the film’s stars GuGu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker and a bunch of other celebs as they hit up the red carpet. On working with GuGu and Gina, Nate dished,

“It was everything I wanted it to be. The script was very eloquently written. Gina gets a yes from me on any project. GuGu is super talented and it was pretty much everything I wanted it to be.”

GuGu returned the love telling us,

“The cast and crew were marvelous. Nate is a very smart actor and obviously gorgeous! But also a very serious actor. We did a lot of improv, went to Disney World in full character. I think it was pretty great!”

We also caught up with Lala Anthony who hit the carpet with a few of her cast members from the Starz hit show Power. On what advice she has for aspiring artist, actors, and filmmakers, she replied,

“I think that going to the film festivals, meeting people and networking always helps. I’m excited to come here and meet Gina Prince-Bythewood, the director of  Love & Basketball, which is one of my favorite movies. To be able to come here and talk to her, that’s what it’s all about; mixing and mingling with the people you want to be like. You gotta be in it to win it.”

Director Malcolm D. Lee, who first entered the festival in 1999 with a then unknown film The Best Man, said about the event,

“[The Urbanworld Film Festival] is a brilliant platform to showcase movies like these. And with all of the technology and social media today, it’s easy to take advantage and get the audiences involved in the process.”

Beyond The Lights hits theaters November 14, 2014. Some of the other big winners at the festival include:

Best Screenplay– NOOR written by Nijla Baseema Mu’min

Best Narrative Feature (World Cinema)– Los Angeles directed by Damian John Harper

Audience Award Winner For Best Feature–  In The Morning directed by Nefertite Nguvu

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty 

Red Carpet At “The Best Man Holiday” Los Angeles Premiere (PHOTOS)
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