Pimp

Release Date:  11/9/18; In Theaters & VOD
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  NR
Director:  Christine Crokos
Studio(s):   Adrenaline Entertainment, 1821 Pictures
Running Time:  110 mins.
Cast:  Keke Palmer, Haley Ramm, Aunjanue Ellis, Vanessa Morgan, Mike E. Winfield, Edi Gathegi, DMX.

Story:   Keke Palmer plays a struggling pimp named Wednesday whose fortune changes after her girlfriend Nikki (Haley Ramm) hits the streets. But when Wednesday comes face to face with another pimp (Edi Gathegi) who plays a much more dangerous game, her dreams of ever escaping the life are put at risk.  Source:  Entertainment Weekly; IMDB.

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If Beale Street Could Talk

Release Date:  11/30/18; In Theaters
Genre:  Crime/Drama
Rating:  R
Director:  Barry Jenkins
Studio(s):   Annapurna Pictures, PASTEL, Plan B Entertainment.
Running Time:  117 mins.

Cast:  KiKi Layne (Tish Rivers), Stephan James (Alonzo ‘Fonny’ Hunt), Regina King (Sharon Rivers), Colman Domingo (Joseph Rivers), Teyonah Parris (Ernestine Rivers), Michael Beach (Frank Hunt), Aunjanue Ellis (Mrs. Hunt), Ebony Obsidian (Adrienne Hunt).

Story:   If Beale Street Could Talk follows a pregnant woman from Harlem named Tish (Kiki Layne), whose lover (Stephan James) is falsely accused of rape. When Tish finds out she is pregnant while James’ character Fonny is in prison, she races against the clock with help from her family and her lawyer to find evidence to exonerate Fonny.  Based on the novel by James Baldwin  Source:  Variety.

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Of Mind and Music

Of Mind and Music

a/k/a Una Vida: A Fable of Music and the Mind

Release Date:  2/12/16 (In Theaters); 3/29/16 (DVD); 2014
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  PG-13
Running Time:  97 mins.
Studio(s):  Monterey Video; Una Vida Productions
Director:  Richie Adams

Cast:  Joaquim de Almeida (Dr. Alvaro Cruz), Aunjanue Ellis (Una Vida), Bill Cobbs (Stompleg), Ruth Negga (Jessica), Sharon Lawrence (Angela Cruz), Andre Royo (Kenny).

Story:  A story about a beautiful street musician suffering from memory loss and a disheartened neuroscientist intent on helping her, bringing together the city of New Orleans and the jazz that made it famous. Sources: IMDB; Shadow & Act.

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The Birth of a Nation

Release Date:  10/7/16 (In Theaters)
Genre:  Biography/Historical/Drama
Rating:  R
Studio(s):  Bron Studios, Mandalay Pictures, Phantom Four, Tiny Giant Entertainment
Running Time:  110 mins.
Director:  Nate Parker

Cast:  Nate Parker (Nat Turner), Aunjanue Ellis (Nancy Turner), Armie Hammer (Samuel Turner), Colman Domingo (Hark), Aja Naomi King, Gabrielle Union, Jackie Earle Haley, Mark Boone Junior, Penelope Ann Miller (Elizabeth Turner), Roger Guenveur Smith (Isaiah), Dwight Henry (Isaac Turner), Chiké Okonkwo.The Birth Of A Nation still

Story:  According to Shadow and Act, the official synopsis reads: Set against the antebellum South, this story follows Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner, accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. After witnessing countless atrocities against fellow slaves, Nat devises a plan to lead his people to freedom. Photo Source:  Shadow and Act.

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Update:  According to Deadline, on 1/26/16, in a record-breaking deal for the Sundance Film Festival, Fox Searchlight is wrapping up a deal to pay around $17.5 million to acquire world rights for The Birth Of A Nation.  Sony Pictures and The Weinstein Company bid in the mid-eight figures for Birth Of A Nation, and Netflix went all out and bid $20 million, sources said. Aside from the high bid among traditional theatrical distributors, Fox Searchlight is the company that guided 12 Years A Slave to an Academy Award for Best Picture in 2014. Many who saw the film feel that is a realistic goal for The Birth Of A Nation.  Buyers were buzzing immediately after the premiere screening Monday (1/25/16) afternoon where Parker and his cast received a thunderous, sustained standing ovation for a movie that left attendees shaken, and some sobbing.

The Birth of a Nation won both the US dramatic audience award and the grand jury prize at the 32nd Sundance film festival awards.   Source(s):  Deadline, The Guardian.

Details:  On 5/27/15, Variety reported that Jackie Earle Haley and Mark Boone Junior (Sons of Anarchy) will star in Nate Parker’s historical drama The Birth of a Nation, based on the story of the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner. The film was first announced in November with Armie Hammer and Parker starring, with Parker also producing and directing from his own script.

Prompted by religious visions, Turner and a band of about 70 rebel slaves killed between 55 and 65 people in Virginia — the most ever killed in a slave uprising. The rebellion was stopped after two days, but Turner survived in hiding for more than two months.

Haley will portray a slave patrol captain who takes pride in controlling the movements of the county’s slaves. Boone Jr. will play a crafty preacher. Aja Naomi King, Aunjanue Ellis, Colman Domingo, Dwight Henry, Roger Guenveur Smith and Gabrielle Union are also starring.

Variety also previously reported that the producers have opted to use the same title as the 1915 American silent drama film directed by D. W. Griffith, which covered the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. The film was controversial due to its portrayal of black men as unintelligent and the Ku Klux Klan as heroes. Source: Variety.

The Book of Negroes

The Book of Negroes Movie StillRelease Date: 2/16/15 (Made-for-TV)
Genre: Drama
Rating: Not Available
Director: Clement Virgo
Studios: Conquering Lion Pictures, Out of Africa Entertainment

Cast:  Aunjanue Ellis (Aminata Diallo), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Sam Fraunces), Ben Chaplin (Captain John Clarkson), Louis Gossett, Jr. (Daddy Moses), Greg Bryk (Robertson Appleby), Jane Alexander (Maria Witherspoon), Allan Hawco (Solomon Lindo), Rick Roberts (General Washington), Lyriq Bent (Chekura Tiano), Stephan James (Cummings Shackspear).

Details:  According to Shadow and Act, the novel’s synopsis reads: abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle—a string of slaves— Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic “Book of Negroes.” This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own.

Aunjanue Ellis stars as Aminata Diallo, while Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lou Gossett, Jr. play Sam Fraunces and Daddy Moses respectively.  Gooding’s Fraunces is a freed slave from Jamaica who runs his namesake tavern (Fraunces Tavern), participates in several historical events, and later moves to Mount Vernon to run George Washington’s household.  Daddy Moses is Moses ‘Daddy’ Wilkinson or Old Moses, an African American slave, and Methodist preacher in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone. Though blind and crippled, Wilkinson led a band of runaway slaves to freedom in 1776.  Also Lyriq Bent is playing Chekura, who, as a young boy, made the crossing with Aminata when she was sold into slavery, is separated from her, and later reunites with her when they are adults, and have a child together.

The adaptation of the novel will be a 6-hour TV mini-series which will air on BET Networks in the U.S. in February 2015 and CBC in Canada on January 7, 2015.

Source(s): Shadow and Act; IMDB.

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