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September 2008

SEPTEMBER 10-14 - http://www.urbanworld.org/

The start of the Urbanworld Film Festival gets underway today with the opening of 'Still Trippin'' which stars Steve Harvey in an all-new, live stand-up performance. Dedicated to the exhibition of independent and mainstream cinema by and about people of color, Urbanworld will screen 85 films at this year's festival in New York City from September 10-14. All festival screenings will be held at the AMC Loews 34th Street Theaters.

This year's selection showcases New York-based films and filmmakers celebrating local artists and communities, as well as a strong representation of international filmmakers from around the world. The 2008 slate will culminate in the special closing night screening of The Secret Life of Bees, followed by a Q&A with talent from the film including Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo ('Hotel Rwanda'), and screenwriter/director Gina Prince-Bythewood ('Love & Basketball').

The five-day festival includes feature, documentary, and short film screenings, as well as panel discussions, live staged screenplay readings and the celebrated Actor's Spotlight, featuring Queen Latifah and to be aired on BET, with previous honorees including Vondie Curtis Hall, Samuel L. Jackson, Billy Dee Williams and Rosie Perez.

Closing out the festival will be showing of 'The Secret Life of Bees', which stars Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys and Dakota Fanning.

Among the films being shown at the film are

'Jazz in the Diamond District' (Director Lindsey Christian) - When Jasmine ‘Jazz’ Morgan loses her mother to cancer, she can only focus on one thing: pursuing her dream of becoming a singer. Defying the wishes of her father, who prefers that she return to college, Jazz spends the summer entrenched in the D.C. underground music scene. One night, after an impromptu audition, Jazz is invited to join a go–go band. With ease she falls in love with the stage and together she and the band reach new heights of popularity. But just as quickly as her success builds, so does the pressure, and Jazz desperately tries to maintain control of her increasingly chaotic life. Cast includes Wood Harris, Monique Cameron, Erica Chamblee, Andre’ Strong, and Clifton Powell

'Phantom Punch' (Director Robert Townsend) - Sonny Liston, the controversial former world heavyweight boxing champion, is brought to life by actor Ving Rhames in the biopic PHANTOM PUNCH. The film chronicles a career that began with the discovery of his boxing talent while serving time at the Missouri State Penitentiary and effectively ended with the infamous “phantom punch” by Cassius Clay. Cast also includes Stacey Dash, Nicholas Turturro, and Bridgette Wilson-Sampras.

'Ball Don't Lie' (Director Brin Hill) - With the electricity, humor and sweat of street basketball, BALL DON’T LIE is the coming-of-age story of Sticky (newcomer Grayson Boucher), a skinny 17-year-old high school junior living in Venice, California. Stuck in a foster care system that has forgotten him and living life as an outcast, it’s at a community gym that he finds his home and on the basketball court that he becomes a star. After years of building walls, Sticky overcomes the greatest of odds to find acceptance and surrender to love in the unlikeliest of places. Cast includes Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Nick Cannon, Rosanna Arquette, Emilie de Ravin, Harold Perrineau, Grayson "The Professor" Boucher, Kim Hildalgo, Mykelti Williamson, Dania Ramirez, Nick Chinlund, Ricardo Chavira, Steve Harris, Melissa Leo, Robert Wisdom, James Pickens Jr., Lamman Rucker, Matthew St. Patrick, Mums de Schemer, Cress Williams, Rachel Nicks

'I Used to Love Her' (Director Mark Harris) - I USED TO LOVE HER tells the tale of Simee Smith (Turner) a pop singer who has lost her morals in the music industry. Fed up with what her life has turned into, she heads back to her hometown of Chicago. While seeking to restore her sense of self–worth and self–respect, Simee falls in love with an unlikely match, Ramadan El–Amin (Roberson), who in turn plays a crucial role in her growth and development as a “new woman.” Life gets better and better, but you cannot run from your past forever. Everything comes to light. Will Simee’s history ruin her future? Cast includes Mel Roberson, Toya Turner, Simeon Henderson, Sheree Bynum, Dori King, Tiffany J. Curtis, Lil Rel, Lorenzo Hunt

'Up With Me' (Director Greg Takoudes) - When Francisco, a teenager from Harlem, is admitted to an upstate boarding school on scholarship, he is torn between his life at home and the new environment. But when his best friend puts his own life in danger as a loyalty test to Francisco, Francisco is forced to become the one thing in boarding school that he resisted becoming in Harlem: a drug dealer. UP WITH ME is a creative collaboration between Greg Takoudes and non-professional teenagers from Harlem. The screenplay is based on months–long writing workshops with the teenagers, who also star in the movie.

'The Express' (Director Gary Fleder) - Based on a true story, The Express follows the extraordinary life of college football hero Ernie Davis (Rob Brown), the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. His fight for equality and respect forever changed the face of American sports, and his story continues to inspire new generations. Raised in poverty in Pennsylvania coal-mining country, Davis hurdled social and economic obstacles to become one of the greatest running backs in college football history. Under the guidance of legendary Syracuse coach Ben Schwartzwalder (Dennis Quaid), he became a hero who superseded Jim Brown’s achievements and set records that stand to this day.

'This is the Life' (Director Ava DuVernay) - THIS IS THE LIFE chronicles a group of young artists from South Central L.A. In the early 90s, these teenagers would gather weekly at The Good Life, a health food store on Crenshaw Boulevard, to create music together. Their underground recording in 1994 influenced such stars as Ice Cube, Mos Def and Black Eyed Peas. Largely unknown to mainstream audiences, these young people attracted an almost cult-like international following.

'Tennessee' (Director Aaron Woodley) - Two brothers, Carter (Adam Rothenberg) and Ellis (Ethan Peck), embark on a journey from New Mexico to find their estranged father in the hopes of saving Ellis, who has been diagnosed with terminal leukemia. Along the way they meet Krystal (Mariah Carey), an aspiring singer who flees her controlling husband (Lance Reddick) to join them on their journey.

'Zane's Sex Chronicles' (Screenwriter Zane) - CINEMAX, in association with New York Times best–selling author Zane and Oscar® nominee and two–time Emmy® winner Suzanne de Passe, presents a new urban late night series based on the wildly popular book series of the same name. The series follows heroine Patience James and her girlfriends Maricruz, Lyric, Eboni and Ana Marie as they take on their lives in the big city, look for love and make time for male “eye-candy” and many steamy rendezvous. ZANE’S SEX CHRONICLES celebrates empowerment and liberation – both in and out of the bedroom – while weaving together unforgettable characters and intoxicating eroticism to seduce the minds – and eyes – of both men and women.

'Wu: The Story of the Wu Tang Clan' (Director Gerald Barclay) - WU: THE STORY OF THE WU-TANG CLAN is the compelling and provocative story of one of the greatest acts in Hip Hop history. Written and directed by the group’s childhood friend and former video director, Gerald “Gee- Bee” Barclay, and remixed for BET Networks by Emmy Award winner P. Frank Williams (AMERICAN GANGSTER, BET Awards), Wu provides a backstage pass to rare live performances, television appearances, and new interviews with group members RZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Steve Rifkind, former CEO of Loud Records. Wu-Tang fans will love every moment of this captivating film.




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