Burning Sands

burning-sands-stillRelease Date:  1/24/17 (Sundance Film Festival); 3/10/17 (Netflix)
Genre:   Drama
Rating:  NR
Running Time:  105 mins.
Director:   Gerard McMurray
Studio:   Mandalay Pictures
Cast:  Trevor Jackson (Zurich), Alfre Woodard (Professor Hughes), Steve Harris (Dean Richardson), Tosin Cole (Frank), DeRon Horton (Square), Trevante Rhodes (Fernander), Serayah (Angel), Imani Hakim (Rochon).

Story:   In his freshman year of college, it seems Zurich has everything going for him; he has the respect of his teachers and university administration, the love and devotion of a wonderful girlfriend, and he’s been selected for admission to a prestigious Black fraternity on campus. But as Zurich embarks on the Hell Week of pledging his fraternity, the harsh trials of entry into brotherhood begin to test the limits of his self-worth. As the intensifying abuse begins to become untenable, Zurich struggles to honor the fraternity’s code of silence, and the scaffolding of his life outside the frat begins to dismantle.  Burning Sands constructs a deeply complex cross section of the fabled fraternity hazing culture and the vicious power of the desire for acceptance.  Source:  Sundance.org.


Crown Heights

a/k/a Darker Than Blue

Release Date:  (2017)
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  NR
Running Time:  94 mins.
Director:  Matt Ruskin
Studio(s):   Iam21 Entertainment, Washington Square Films, Black Maple Films.

Cast:  Keith Stanfield (Colin Warner), Nnamdi Asomugha (Carl King), Natalie Paul (Antoinette), Bill Camp (William Robedee), Nestor Carbonell (Bruce Regenstreich).

Story:  On April 10, 1980, a shot rang out on the streets of Crown Heights, igniting a decades-long quest for justice in this harrowing true story. Colin Warner is arrested and tried for a crime he did not commit, a victim of a deeply broken system that refuses to listen. Quick to throw him away, the court wrongfully convicts him. But as Colin loses hope to reclaim an innocence that has been cast aside, his best friend, Carl King, devotes his life to restoring Colin’s freedom, doggedly pursuing every lead for years.  Source:  Sundance.org.



dayveon-stillRelease Date:   1/19/17; Sundance Film Festival
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  NR
Running Time:  75 mins.
Director:  Amman Abbasi
Studio:   Mama Bear Studios, Muskat Filmed Properties, Rough House Pictures, Salem Street Entertainment, Symbolic Exchange.

Cast:  Devin Blackmon (Dayveon), Dontrell Bright (Brian), Lachion Buckingham (Mook), Kordell Johnson (Brayden), Chasity Moore (Kim), Marquell Manning (Country).

Story:  In the wake of his big brother’s violent death, 13-year-old Dayveon (Devin Blackmon) struggles to find his way in an economically depressed Arkansas town. With no parents and few role models around, Dayveon is soon torn between the lure of a local gang and the friendship of his sister’s boyfriend, who reluctantly acts as a father figure.  Source:  Sundance.org.

Roxanne Roxanne

Release Date:  3/23/18; Netflix
(2017 – original release date)
Genre:  Drama/Biography
Rating:  NR
Running Time:  100 mins.
Director:  Michael Larnell
Studio(s):   Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions, IamOTHER Entertainment, Neon.
Cast:  Chanté Adams (Roxanne Shanté), Mahershala Ali (Cross), Nia Long (Ms. Peggy Gooden), Elvis Nolasco (Ray), Jermel Howard (Roland), Eden Duncan-Smith (Latifa), Tonye Patano (Ms. Denise), Sean Ringgold (Keith), Taliyah Whitaker (Young Roxanne Shanté).

Story:   The film, set in the 1980s, tells the story of a 14-year-old rap prodigy from New York City’s Queensbridge Projects named Lolita Shante Gooden, who would go on to become the famed rapper hip hop fans know her as: Roxanne Shanté.

Shanté’s career kicked off after meeting fellow rapper Tyrone Williams, D.J. Mr. Magic and record producer Marley Marl outside the Queensbridge housing project, the same complex that produced rap legends like Nas and Mobb Deep.  She gained commercial success after teaming up with Marl to produce a response track to U.T.F.O.’s popular song “Roxanne, Roxanne.” Her version, which legend has it was free-styled in Marl’s apartment in between laundry loads, was titled “Roxanne’s Revenge” and became an instant hit.  Sources:  Black Film; Essence.  Photo Source:  Sundance.org.



Release Date:   2017
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  R
Running Time:  134 mins.
Director:   Dee Rees
Studio(s):   Armory Films, Black Bear Pictures, Elevated Films (II), MACRO, MMC Joule Films. Zeal Media.
Cast:  Jason Mitchell (Ronsel Jackson), Rob Morgan (Hap Jackson), Mary J. Blige (Florence Jackson), Carey Mulligan (Laura McAllan), Jason Clarke (Henry McAllan), Garrett Hedlund (Jamie McAllan), Jonathan Banks (Pappy McAllan).

Story:  A big-screen adaptation of Hillary Jordan’s 2009 novel of the same name, which is set in 1946 in the wake of World War II, the story follows the fates of two very different families that collide while struggling to make their dreams come true in the Mississippi Delta.  When two celebrated soldiers return home, their unlikely friendship complicates the already fraught relationship between the families.  The official Sundance synopsis reads:  set in the post–World War II South, the story follows two families who are pitted against a barbaric social hierarchy and an unrelenting landscape as they simultaneously fight the battle at home and the battle abroad.  Source:  Shadow and Act.



Release Date:  10/12/18; In Theaters
Genre:   Drama
Rating:  NR
Director:  Jean-Claude La Marre
Studio(s):   Nu-Lite Entertainment, Patriot Pictures.
Cast:   Robert Ri’chard (Darrin), Dawn Richard (Joyce), Vivica Fox (Dana), Gary Dourdan (Anthony),Jazsmin Lewis (Colette), Obba Babatundé (Mr. Bernard), Darrin Dewitt Henson (Bradley), Jean-Claude La Marre (Dr. Richardson), Freda Payne (Mrs. Bernard),

Story:   Set in the affluent community of Buckhead, Atlanta, the story follows Dr. Joyce Richardson, a talented, yet introverted surgeon at Sinai Hospital, who is struggling with the fact that she is still single despite all her professional successes. Joyce’s strict Christian upbringing is a constant source of internal conflict for her, and limits the men she dates. However, upon a chance encounter with handsome Investor Darrin Wethington, Joyce immediately begins a whirlwind romance with the wealthy businessman and entrepreneur.  It isn’t long before Joyce begins to explore her own sexual fantasies, and convinces Darrin to join her in S&M sex.  This leads them into further and further exploration into this world, which is traditionally considered taboo in the conservative and upscale black community of Buckhead.  Source:  Shadow & Act.


The New Edition Story

the-new-edition-story-stillRelease Date:  1/24/17, 1/25/17, 1/26/17; BET
Genre:  Biography
Rating:  NR
Director:  Chris Robinson
Studio(s):   Black Entertainment Television (BET), Jesse Collins Entertainment.

Cast:   Bryshere Y. Gray (Michael Bivins) Dante Hoagland (Young Michael), Elijah Kelley (Ricky Bell), Caleb McLaughlin (Young Ricky), Luke James (Johnny Gill), Algee Smith (Ralph Tresvant), Jahi Winston (Young Ralph), Keith Powers  (Ron Devoe), Myles Truitt (Young Ron), Woody McClain (Bobby Brown), Tyler Williams (Young Bobby), Anika C. McFall (Carolyn Busby), La La Anthony (Flo DeVoe), Durrell Babbs (Jheryl Busby), Raven Bowens (Teasha Bivins), Noel Braham (Ray Parker, Jr.), Bre-z ( Peanut Bell), Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley Bivins), Monica Calhoun (Patricia Tresvant), Lisa Nicole Carson (Mae Bell), Chelsea Diggs-Smith (Amber Tresvant), Faizon Love (Maurice Starr).

Story:  The miniseries follows the rise and fall of the ’80s boy band (featuring Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, DeVoe, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant) that paved the way for other groups like Boyz II Men, NSYNC, The Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block.  The group reached enormous heights in the ’80s and ’90s, but struggled to share the limelight, causing tension and deep rifts between its individual members.  Source:  ETonline.  Photo Source:  BET.