December 9, 2013
Image Entertainment recently announced that The Last Letter, starring Omari Hardwick and Sharon Leal, will be released on DVD on December 17.
Written and directed by Paul D. Hannah (The Redemption of a Dog, The Marriage Chronicles), the film also stars Gary Dourdan, Richard T. Jones, Tatyana Ali, Lynn Whitfield and Bill Cobbs.
In the film Sharon Leal (Dreamgirls) and Omari Hardwick (Sparkle) head an all-star cast in this twisted, psychological thriller as newlyweds Catherine and Michael. The couple’s marriage is threatened by Michael’s disapproving mother (Lynn Whitfield, The Josephine Baker Story) and Catherine’s own terrifying secret: a crippling sleep disorder that blurs nightmare and reality. When a terrifying incident from her past returns to haunt her, she turns to her foster brother and closest confidant, George (Gary Dourdan, CSI), who vows they will stick together…no matter what!
December 6, 2013
RLJ/One Village Entertainment will be releasing Laughing to the Bank, starring Brian Hooks, Vashon Nutt, Courtney Hicks and Roy Hooks, on February 18, 2014.
Brian Hooks is a hard luck actor who’s been doing the Hollywood shuffle for way too long. This B-list nobody is tired of waiting for his big shot at fame and fortune. When studio executives shoot down his idea for a new TV show, Brian and his oddball entourage decide to raise the money and produce it themselves. Now, he will have to put on the performance of his life…with the help of all the crazy characters in his head…if he wants to get his chance to be a star.
“Laughing To The Bank” marks the first film from producer Bernard Bronner new company, Make It Rain Films. Bronner was formerly associated with Rain Forest Films, which has produced hits such as “Think Like A Man,” “Takers” and “Stomp the Yard” among others.
December 6, 2013
Lionsgate has released the trailer to the crime-thriller Reasonable Doubt, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Dominic Cooper.
Directed by Peter Howitt (Laws of Attraction), Dominic Cooper plays Mitch Brockden, a young go-getter in the District Attorney’s office with a wife and baby at home. After a night out celebrating, Mitch is driving home when a man darts out in front of his car and gets hit. Worried for his career, Mitch doesn’t see any eye witnesses (but does hear the clicking of a Zippo), and he speeds away.
Then someone does get caught for the hit-and-run, accused criminal Clifton Davis (Samuel L. Jackson). To protect himself, Brockden has to throw the case and let Davis — the one guy who can pin the accident on him — go free. But that means letting a serial killer back out on the street. So Mitch has to find a way to stop the psychopath who holds all the cards.
Reasonable Doubt opens in select cities and on VOD on January 17.
December 13, 2013
Tonight, the Maysles Cinema brings you the film that captivated critics and judges from Sundance to Cannes and turned slam poetry into the global phenomenon it is today: Marc Levin’s SLAM. Join acclaimed poet and performer Saul Williams, Sonja Sohn (The Wire), Bonz Malone, Bob Holman, Liza Jessie Peterson, Richard Stratton and Marc Levin at the Dempsey Auditorium in Harlem (127 W. 127th Street) for the 15th Anniversary of this seminal film and the first gathering of the talent behind it since 1998.
DJ Spooky is moderating and Michael K. Williams will also be attending. Tickets for tonight can be purchased at http://www.maysles.org/.
In the nights to follow, the Maysles Cinema will journey back through Levin’s decades of filmmaking with works that explore defining themes in our collective psyche: race, class, politics, religion and urban identity—themes that provide a lens through which to examine social and cultural dynamics at every level in modern America. In addition to SLAM, the Masterclass will include the following screenings: WHITEBOYZ, a humorous take on the no man’s land where black and white meet in popular culture; GANG WARS: BANGIN’ IN LITTLE ROCK and its follow-up; a preview of Levin’s in-progress documentary FREEWAY: CRACK IN THE SYSTEM, followed by MR. UNTOUCHABLE, for a look at the world of gangster capitalism through the stories of real American Gangsters, LA’s “Freeway” Rick Ross and Harlem’s own Nicky Barnes; clips from BRICK CITY, CAPTURED and CHICAGOLAND, as part of Sunday’s session on Documenting Urban America; and PROTOCOLS OF ZION, Levin’s journey to unfold the ancient conspiracy theory that re-emerged after 9/11: blame it on the Jews.
Stars, producers and writers from each film will join Levin for post-screening Q&As, including Piper Perabo (of USA’s hit series Covert Affairs), who was cast in WHITEBOYZ shortly after graduating from college. “Freeway” Rick Ross, who stood at the center of crack epidemic and CIA/Contra/Cocaine connection, and Joseph “Jazz” Hayden, an original member of Nicky Barnes’ Heroin Council, will also join us for the FREEWAY: CRACK IN THE SYSTEM & MR.UNTOUCHABLE evening—two generations of drug kingpins turned activists, live in the same program.
December 5, 2013
Deadline is reporting that Kevin Hart will do a basketball comedy with NBA player LeBron James in ‘Ballers‘ for Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment. Brian Grazer and Michael Rosenberg are producing.
Along with Joey Wells, Chris Spencer and Harry Ratchford, Hart will co-write the screenplay, in which he stars as a man who lives in the shadow of his NBA superstar brother (James), but gets a chance to prove himself when he and some pals attend a weekend fantasy basketball camp in Miami.
Interesting enough, ‘Ballers’ was originally written by Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz back in 2010 when it was known as ‘Fantasy Basketball Camp.’ Malcolm D. Lee was attached as the director but the project never got off the ground. With the recent success of ‘Best Man Holiday,’ Lee could be brought back on. His previous comedy films include ‘Undercover Brother‘ and ‘Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins.’ Both were Universal films.
December 4, 2013
Sony Pictures has released the teaser trailer for director Marc Webb‘s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which hits theaters on May 2, 2014 and stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti and Sally Field.
We’ve always known that Spider-Man’s most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead.
It’s great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, there’s no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: OsCorp.
December 5, 2013
Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures have announced the cast of their upcoming film, Warcraft, based on Blizzard Entertainment’s award-winning Warcraft universe. The roster includes Dominic Cooper, Ben Foster, Paula Patton, Travis Fimmel, Toby Kebbell, and Rob Kazinsky.
Initially written by Charles Leavitt and rewritten by Duncan Jones. Production is set to begin as planned in Vancouver this January. The film is expected to hit theaters on March 11, 2016.
Charles Roven, Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni and Alex Gartner will produce. Stuart Fenegan, Jillian Share, Brent O’Connor and Blizzard’s Mike Morhaime and Paul Sams will serve as executive producers. Chris Metzen, Rob Pardo and Nick Carpenter from Blizzard will co-produce.
December 5, 2013
Coming out this week is the story of ‘Lenny Cooke,’ a gifted athlete, who at one point was considered the best high school player in the country, ahead of players such as Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, and Amar’e Stoudemire. Through bad decisions, Cooke never made it the pros, and while he was the best player over 10 years ago, filmmaker Adam Shopkorn was around to videotaped the rise and fall of his game.
Later, brothers Josh and Benny Safdie would be included as they edited the footage and put this amazing documentary on ‘Lenny Cooke.’ One of the producers of the film is Cooke’s childhood friend and current Chicago Bulls NBA player Joakim Noah.
Blackfilm.com recently spoke with Cooke as he talks about his story being told as an inspiration for others to follow the right path.
Going back, what were your first thoughts when you were asked to be filmed?
Lenny Cooke: In 2000, Adam had approached me about doing a film on someone that will be going pro, but it didn’t turn out that way. I accepted it because it was a good idea. They would follow me around and see how someone from high school lives and starts getting ready to go to the next level.
Were you always aware that the camera was on you or did you ever lose sight at some point?
LC: Not really. I gave them the opportunity to see everything that I was doing. I didn’t block anything out. Once I just used to it, I was just myself. There wasn’t anything that I wanted left out.
When folks who don’t know you about the documentary about, what are you telling them?
LC: This documentary will show them that I’ve grown. I’ve matured. I want kids now and the next student-athlete to use me as an example on how to prepare oneself for the next level. It’s a lot of decision making and you have to make choices in your life. Some will be good and some will be bad, but you have to be aware of them.
With your story, there were also adults that helped you with some of those poor decisions.
LC: With me, every decision made, I made on my own. I didn’t want anyone to help me with any decision. At 17 and 18, I felt that I was already grown so I didn’t need anyone to help me with any decision.
As you tried several times to make it to the NBA, what kept your spirits up?
LC: My children. That’s what I live for. If I’m depressed and emotional, then they will be sad and emotional. As long as they are happy, then I’m happy.
Can you talk about Chicago Bulls player Joakim Noah and how he got involved in the film?
LC: Our friendship goes back to when we were 11 years old when I first him. He’s always been supportive of me, and as he got older and accomplished himself as an NBA superstar, he still supports me. He believes this story should be told to the next generation and is willing to push my story out there.
When did you know it wasn’t to going to happen, as far as making it to the NBA?
LC: I gave it up after my Achilles tendon tore. I tore both of them and after that, I said I was done. I always had a goal that I wanted to coach young kids, and am looking to start my own foundation for the community where I live because there’s nothing for the kids t do in the area.
Earlier this year when the film played at the Tribeca Film Festival, you reconnected, after several years, with the woman from Old Tappan, New Jersey who helped raised you. What was that feeling like?
LC: It was good. Debbie (Bortner) helped me as much as she could. She gave me advice back then that I didn’t listen to as far as schooling and things of that nature. At the end of the day, she still loved me, with or without basketball, and I feel the same about her.
Back then, not knowing where any of you were going pro, what was it like playing with Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, and Amar’e Stoudemire?
LC: I enjoyed it. To be considered the best basketball player in the country was an honor I’ll never forget. These guys that made it to the NBA, I’m proud of those guys because they worked hard to get where they are at. I didn’t work hard and they did. I didn’t put forth the effort and hard work paid off for those guys. That’s why LeBron James is the best basketball player in the NBA. That’s why Carmelo Anthony is the best scorer in the NBA. Those guys worked hard to be where they are at.
Can you talk about working with Josh and Benny Safdie?
LC: I enjoyed working with Josh and Benny. They never got in the way of what I was doing from the time that I met them, especially Josh. Benny is the quiet one, but Josh is the outspoken one and wants to be a part of everything and fits in no matter where we were at.
What are you doing now?
LC: I’m coaching at a middle school for six and seventh graders in my area. I’m traveling around the country with the documentary, doing motivational speeches and things of that nature.
December 4, 2013
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced that they will be releasing the inspirational story ‘Dreams’ on DVD on January 28th.
Directed by Joel Kapity, the film stars Tommy Ford, Syesha Mercado, Terri J. Vaughn, Geoffrey Owens, Lisa Tucker, Jazsmin Lewis, Angie Stone, Lou Myers, Dennie ‘LA’ White, Mel Jackson, Vickie Winans, Marvin Winans Jr., and Marchello Lee.
A man fighting to get his family back. A dancer haunted by his past. A drug dealer who can’t shake a police officer from his tail. A singer trapped in an abusive relationship. An ex-boxer searching for his daughter’s forgiveness.
They all have a very specific dream they are trying to accomplish. During one of the coldest winters in Chicago, all of their dreams become reality—just not the way they planned.
Sometimes you can’t move forward in life until you have dealt with your past. DREAMS places you in a zone of contemplation. It inspires and makes you question what you are doing with your life. It brings the darkness to light. This urban drama highlights the power of overcoming your challenges and pursuing your dreams with everything inside of you.
Packed with twists and turns, DREAMS hits us deep in our hearts, where decisions are made that change lives.
Rooted in themes of forgiveness and passion, DREAMS is sure to inspire us all to become something bigger than ourselves.
December 4, 2013
The the 30th annual Sundance Film Festival revealed its slate of 117 features (96 of them world premieres), which is set to start from Jan. 16-26 in Park City, Utah.
Among the selected are Justin Simien’s Dear White People. Simien was recently named one of Variety’s 10 Director to Watch for 2013. Also going there are “Happy Christmas,” which stars Anna Kendrick and Lena Dunham, “Mad Men” actor John Slattery’s directorial debut, “God’s Pocket,” and
The Sundance Film Festival will announce its Spotlight, Park City at Midnight and New Frontier titles Thursday, along with a brand-new Sundance Kids slate devoted to children’s programming. The Premieres and Documentary Premieres lineups will be unveiled Monday.
U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
The 16 films in this section are world premieres and, unless otherwise noted, are from the U.S.
“Camp X-Ray” — Directed and written by Peter Sattler. A young female guard at Guantanamo Bay forms an unlikely friendship with one of the detainees. Cast: Kristen Stewart, Payman Maadi, Lane Garrison, J.J. Soria, John Carroll Lynch.
“Cold in July” — Directed by Jim Mickle, written by Nick Damici. A small-town Texas man kills a home intruder, only to see his life violently unravel in Mickle’s follow-up to “We Are What We Are.” Cast: Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson, Sam Shepard, Vinessa Shaw, Nick Damici, Wyatt Russell.
“Dear White People” — Directed and written by Justin Simien. A tongue-in-cheek look at racial identity at an Ivy League university, where a riot breaks out over an “African-American-themed” party thrown by white students. Cast: Tyler Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon Bell.
“Fishing Without Nets” (U.S.-Somalia-Kenya) — Directed by Cutter Hodierne, written by Hodierne, John Hibey and David Burkman. This story of pirates in Somalia is told from the perspective of a struggling young local fisherman. Cast: Abdikani Muktar, Abdi Siad, Abduwwhali Faarah, Abdikhadir Hassan, Reda Kateb, Idil Ibrahim.
“God’s Pocket” — Directed John Slattery, written by Slattery, Alex Metcalf. The story of a man trying to conceal the truth about the construction “accident” that killed his stepson. Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, Christina Hendricks, John Turturro.
“Happy Christmas” — Directed and written by Joe Swanberg. A young woman breaks up with her boyfriend and then moves in with her older brother, his wife, and their 2-year-old son. Cast: Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, Lena Dunham, Swanberg.
“Hellion” — Directed and written by Kat Candler. A 13-year-old delinquent must get his act together, along with his emotionally absent dad, in order to bring back his little brother, who’s been taken away by child protective services. Cast: Aaron Paul, Juliette Lewis, Josh Wiggins, Deke Garner, Jonny Mars, Walt Roberts.
“Infinitely Polar Bear” — Directed and written by Maya Forbes. A manic-depressive father tries to win back his wife by taking full responsibility of their two young daughters. Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky, Ashley Aufderheide.
“Jamie Marks Is Dead” — Directed and written by Carter Smith. A ghost visits his former classmate, hoping to find the love and friendship he never experienced in life. Cast: Cameron Monaghan, Noah Silver, Morgan Saylor, Judy Greer, Madisen Beaty, Liv Tyler.
“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” — Directed by David Zellner, written by David and Nathan Zellner. A lonely Japanese woman abandons her structured life in Tokyo to seek a satchel of money rumoredly hidden in the Minnesota wilderness. Cast: Rinko Kikuchi.
“Life After Beth” — Directed and written by Jeff Baena. A man is devastated by his girlfriend’s unexpected death, but receives a second chance at love when she mysteriously returns. Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Dave DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser.
“Low Down” — Directed by Jeff Preiss, written by Amy Albany and Topper Lilien. This adaptation of Albany’s memoir explores her journey to adulthood while being raised by her troubled father, bebop pianist Joe Albany. Cast: John Hawkes, Elle Fanning, Glenn Close, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Flea.
“The Skeleton Twins” — Directed by Craig Johnson, written by Johnson and Mark Heyman. An estranged brother and sister coincidentally cheat death on the same day, prompting a reunion. Cast: Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell, Boyd Holbrook, Joanna Gleason.
“The Sleepwalker” (U.S.-Norway) — Directed by Mona Fastvold, written by Fastvold, Brady Corbet. A young couple see their lives violently interrupted when unexpected guests arrive at their secluded estate. Cast: Gitte Witt, Christopher Abbott, Corbet, Stephanie Ellis.
“Song One” — Directed and written by Kate Barker-Froyland. When an accident leaves her brother comatose, a woman sets out to retrace his life as an aspiring musician, leading to an unexpected relationship against the backdrop of Brooklyn’s music scene. Cast: Anne Hathaway, Johnny Flynn, Mary Steenburgen, Ben Rosenfield.
“Whiplash” — Directed and written by Damien Chazelle. A talented young drummer pursues perfection at any cost in Chazelle’s follow-up to “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench.” Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons.
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
The 16 films in this section are world premieres and, unless otherwise noted, are from the U.S.
“Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory” — Directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett. A man discovers that songs embedded deep in memory can ease the pain of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
“All the Beautiful Things” — Directed by John Harkrider. An account of a close friendship between two men, tested by betrayal when one of them is falsely accused of rape.
“Captivated — The Trials of Pamela Smart” (U.S.-U.K.) — Directed by Jeremiah Zagar. An examination of the media’s impact on Smart’s 1991 murder trial, which became one of the highest-profile criminal cases of all time.
“The Case Against 8″ — Directed by Ben Cotner, Ryan White. A behind-the-scenes look at the unlikely team that took the first federal marriage equality lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Cesar’s Last Fast” — Directed by Richard Ray Perez, Lorena Parlee. A portrait of Cesar Chavez’s devotion and personal sacrifice in fighting for economic justice on behalf of America’s poorest workers.
“Dinosaur 13″ — Directed by Todd Miller. An up-close look at one of the greatest discoveries in history.
“E-Team” — Directed by Katy Chevigny, Ross Kauffman. A look at the high-stakes investigative work undertaken by four intrepid human-rights workers.
“Fed Up” — Directed by Stephanie Soechtig. An expose of the food industry’s 30-year campaign to mislead the American public, resulting in one of the worst health epidemics in history.
“The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz” — Directed by Brian Knappenberger. Documents the life and accomplishments of programming prodigy and information activist Swartz before he took his life at the age of 26.
“Ivory Tower” — Directed by Andrew Rossi. An inquiry into whether college is worth it in an era of soaring tuition costs.
“Marmato” — Directed by Mark Grieco. A historic Colombian mining town becomes the center of a modern gold rush when a Canadian company seeks to excavate the $20 billion in gold beneath residents’ homes.
“No No: A Dockumentary” — Directed by Jeffrey Radice. A portrait of former baseball player Dock Ellis, who once pitched a no-hitter on LSD and subsequently spent decades counseling drug abusers.
“The Overnighters” — Directed by Jesse Moss. The story of a pastor seeking to help the desperate men who work in the North Dakota oil fields.
“Private Violence” — Directed by Cynthia Hill. An intimate portrait of domestic violence against women as told through two personal stories.
“Rich Hill” — Directed by Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos. An examination of challenges, hopes and dreams of the young residents of a rural American town.
“Watchers of the Sky” — Directed by Edet Belzberg. This documentary interweaves five stories of courage by humanitarians working to end genocide around the world.
WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
The 12 films in this section are world premieres unless otherwise specified.
“52 Tuesdays” (Australia) — Directed by Sophie Hyde, written by Matthew Cormack. An emotionally charged drama about a 16-year-old girl whose mother reveals her plans for gender transition. Cast: Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Del Herbert-Jane, Imogen Archer, Mario Spate, Beau Williams, Sam Althuizen. International premiere.
“Blind” (Norway-Netherlands) — Directed and written by Eskil Vogt. A woman who has recently lost her sight retreats into the safety and isolation of her apartment, alone with her husband and her thoughts. Cast: Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Henrik Rafaelsen, Vera Vitali, Marius Kolbenstvedt.
“Difret” (Ethiopia) — Directed and written by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari. A young lawyer operates under the government’s radar helping women and children, until one girl’s case blows her cover. Cast: Meron Getnet, Tizita Hagere.
“The Disobedient” (Serbia) — Directed and written by Mina Djukic. Two childhood friends reunite in their hometown, then take a bicycle trip around their old haunts. Cast: Hana Selimovic, Mladen Sovilj, Minja Subota, Danijel Sike, Ivan Djordjevic.
“God Help the Girl” (U.K.) — Directed and written by Stuart Murdoch. A musical about some messed-up boys and girls and the music they made. Cast: Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, Hannah Murray, Cora Bissett, Pierre Boulanger.
“Liar’s Dice” (India) — Directed and written by Geetu Mohandas. The story of a young woman who leaves her native land with her daughter to search for her missing husband, encountering a free-spirited army deserter along the way. Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Geetanjali Thapa, Manya Gupta. International premiere.
“Lilting” (U.K.) — Directed and written by Hong Khaou. An intimate drama about a Chinese mother mourning her son’s untimely death and the sudden appearance of a stranger who doesn’t speak her language. Cast: Ben Whishaw, Pei-Pei Cheng, Andrew Leung, Peter Bowles, Naomi Christie, Morven Christie.
“Lock Charmer” (El cerrajero) (Argentina) — Directed and written by Natalia Smirnoff. A 33-year-old locksmith begins to have strange visions about his clients and decides to put this strange talent to use. Cast: Esteban Lamothe, Erica Rivas, Yosiria Huaripata.
“To Kill a Man” (Chile-France) — Directed and written by Alejandro Fernandez Almendras. A hard-working family man gets mugged by a neighborhood delinquent, setting off a chain of violence and retribution. Cast: Daniel Candia, Daniel Antivilo, Alejandro Yanez, Ariel Mateluna.
“Viktoria” (Bulgaria-Romania) — Directed and written by Maya Vitkova. In communist Bulgaria, a woman gives birth to a daughter who, despite being born with no umbilical cord, is hailed as the baby of the decade. Cast: Irmena Chichikova, Daria Vitkova, Kalina Vitkova, Mariana Krumova, Dimo Dimov, Georgi Spassov.
“Wetlands” (Germany) — Directed by David Wnendt, written by Claus Falkenberg and Wnendt. A graphic adaptation of Charlotte Roche’s bestselling novel about an 18-year-old girl obsessed with her own bodily secretions. Cast: Carla Juri, Christoph Letkowski, Meret Becker, Axel Milberg, Marlen Kruse, Edgar Selge. North American premiere.
“White Shadow” (Italy-Germany-Tanzania) — Directed by Noaz Deshe, written by Desh and James Masson. A survival drama about a young albino boy who goes on the run after witnessing his father’s murder. Cast: Hamisi Bazili, James Gayo, Glory Mbayuwayu, Salum Abdallah. International premiere.