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.

Trailer:

 

Memphis (I)

Status: Development Status Unknown as of 7/3/14
Release Date: TBA
Genre: Drama/Biography
Rating: Not Available
Studio: Scott Rudin Productions/Veritas Films
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Forest Whitaker (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Story: The script depicts Dr. King’s final days as he struggled to organize a protest march on behalf of striking black municipal sanitation workers in Memphis, TN, where he was slain. That storyline is juxtaposed with an intense manhunt for King’s assassin, James Earl Ray, involving some of the federal authorities who, at Hoover’s direction, had dogged King’s every step with wiretaps and whispering campaigns before the civil rights leader’s death.

Details: Universal Pictures backed out of director Paul Greengrass’s would-be project in April 2012, after reportedly getting cold feet about the MLK estate’s issues with the allegations of infidelity in the screenplay. Then Greengrass turned his attention to Captain Phillips, his Somali pirates picture and the project was essentially abandoned. Now it is back on again with producer Scott Rudin in tow, but just not right away.

In May 2013, The Wrap revealed that Oscar winner Forest Whitaker may be adding another prestige project to his plate, as he’s in talks to play Martin Luther King, Jr. in writer-director Paul Greengrass’ drama Memphis.”  However, Greengrass, in an interview reported by Deadline in January 2014, promised that he will make the film, he just wants to do something else beforehand as he takes his time to find the right actor to play the Civil Rights leader. Source(s): Deadline, IMDB.

Check back for further details on Memphis as this story develops.  See also Selma.

Selma

Selma teaser poster

Release Date:  January 9, 2015
Genre:  Drama/Biography
Rating: Unknown
Studio:  Paramount Pictures, Cloud Eight Films, Celador Films,
Harpo Films, Pathe, Plan B Entertainment, Lee Daniels Entertainment
Director:  Ava DuVernay

Cast:  David Oyelowo (Martin Luther King, Jr.), Oprah Winfrey (Annie Lee Cooper), Carmen Ejogo (Coretta Scott King), Lorraine Toussaint (Amelia Boynton), Giovanni Ribisi (Lee C. White), Tim Roth (George Wallace), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Fred Gray), Common (James Bevel), Tom Wilkinson (President Lyndon B. Johnson), Tessa Thompson (Diane Nash), Dylan Baker (J. Edgar Hoover), Wendell Pierce (Reverend Hosea Williams), Niecy Nash (Richie Jean Jackson), Lakeith Stanfield (Jimmie Lee Jackson).

Story:  The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement.  Source(s): AFI Fest.

Trailer: 

Robeson

Paul RobesonStatus:  Development Status Unknown as of April 24, 2017
Release Date: TBA
Genre:  Drama/Biography
Rating:  Not Available
Studio:  Four Stars International/Equinox Films
Director:  Vondie Curtis-Hall
Cast:  David Harewood (Paul Robeson), Louis Gossett, Jr. (W.E.B. Dubois), Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Eslanda Goode Robeson).

Details:  Variety reports that Vondie Curtis-Hall will direct the upcoming Paul Robeson biopic with shooting set for early 2014.

“Robeson” has been in development since early 2013 with South African director Darrell Roodt attached to helm and David Harewood on board to play the lead. Roodt is no longer attached and producers have opted to read other actors for the role.

Robeson, born in 1898, was a singer, actor and orator from the 1920s through the 1950s best known for his  acting in “Othello” and his singing of “Ol’ Man River.” Robeson’s political activism brought him to the attention of Senator Joseph McCarthy, leading to the revocation of his passport for eight years despite his contributions as an entertainer to the Allied forces during WWII. (Source: Variety).