Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Girlhood - Review

GIRLHOOD

Written & Directed by Céline Sciamma
Produced by Produced by Bénédicte Couvreur, Rémi Burah and Olivier Père

Cinematography by Crystel Fournier

Starring     
• Karidja Touré
• Assa Sylla
• Lindsay Karamoh
• Mariétou Touré

Released: January 30, 2015 (USA)

Summary: A girl with few real prospects joins a gang, reinventing herself and gaining a sense of self confidence in the process. However, she soon finds that this new life does not necessarily make her any happier.

Review: I thought this film was an excellent examination of what happens in a girl’s life when she grows up disadvantaged and still has to find herself. This coming of age story happens in a Pairs suburb, but I feel could have taken place anywhere. Marieme is just a girl who feels out of place in school and at home. She doesn’t know what she wants, but she knows it’s not anything she has. Like any good tale, her journey takes many paths, but it’s really one we haven’t seen on screen—from this perspective. The perspective of a teenage black woman.

Karidja Touré as Marieme does a really good job with the complex role that is constantly changing as her character Marieme changes. You grow to care about what happens to this young woman and her story by the end is truly one of independence. The film is also filled with strong characters especially Assa Sylla as “Lady”.

I have to mention the great cinematography of  Crystel Fournier in this film. Fournier achieved her best work with dark skinned actors in dark rooms and at night. That is a hard feat to achieve and she does it beautifully.  

This is what I wrote for the Maryland Film Festival
The writer/director of this film, Céline Sciamma, stated that her goal as a filmmaker is “to show faces and bodies that we never see on screen” and she has done just that with her wonderful third film Girlhood (Bande de filles). As writer Anupa Mistry stated “Finally, a film about black girls strengthening each other." As Mistry points out, the film has “probably the best four minutes of cinema I saw in 2014.” Without giving too much away, that scene is where you truly fall in love with the characters.

In the story, fed up with her abusive family situation, lack of school prospects and the “boys’ law” in the neighborhood, Marieme (Karidja Touré) starts a new life after meeting a group of three free-spirited girls. It is through her friendship with those girls that pretty much everything changes for Marieme, leading her on a turbulent path to find the love, freedom and independence she truly desires.

Girlhood (Bande de filles) premiered within the prestigious Directors' Fortnight section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, and went on to screen within the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and Sundance 2015.

I saw this film through the 2015 Maryland Film Festival and it’s simply one of the best I’ve seen this year.

You can read more about the film on IMDb here

 You can see all of our posts about the Maryland Film Festival here

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

My 2014 Maryland Film Festival Experience

Just in time for the 2015 film festival I’m here to share my experience from last year. LOL

I usually write on the spot reviews and post a review of my favorite film of the festival about a month after the annual festival. Last year I did not. I was exhausted. Last year I was “doing the most”.

I started a lot of it before the festival began. Starting with the MINORITIES IN FILM panel at the festival.
Pictured Left to Right: Michelle Farrell, Kim Moir, Monique Walton, Nicki Mayo, Dankwa Brooks
Eric R. Cotten and Darius Clark Monroe
I conceptualized the idea for the panel and brought in my friend filmmaker/Producer Eric R. Cotten to help me co-ordinate it.

Our plan was to engage the audience about what it’s like to be a minority filmmaker and the challenges we face as far as budget, staffing and resources. We want to educate the audience on resources in the region as well as production options available in the area.

Everyone on the panel was minority filmmakers from Maryland and we had two visiting filmmakers who were gracious enough to sit on the panel. Monique Walton was a Producer on the 2014 Official Selection Skunk and Darius Clark Monroe was the director of 2014 Official Selection Evolution of a Criminal.

I also wrote an article for the indiewire blog Shadow & Act about the black films playing at the 2014 Maryland Film Festival. You can read that article here

I saw a lot of great films like the ones below. (Each film is linked to their IMDb page)
•    Evolution of a Criminal
•    The Hip Hop Fellow
•    All Fall Down (formerly Baltimore in Black and White)
•    Everybody Street
•    Fight Church

My favorite film of the 2014 festival was actually the first feature film I saw. You can read about that here

As you can see before and during the festival I was doing A LOT. I still saw a lot of films and met a lot great people. I still posted lots of pics from the 2014 festival on the ‘Nother Brother Entertainment Facebook page below.


Photos from and about the Maryland Film Festival May 7-11, 2014
Posted by 'Nother Brother Entertainment on Thursday, April 10, 2014




 You can see all of our posts about the Maryland Film Festival here

My Favorite Film at the 2014 Maryland Film Festival


My favorite film of the 2014 film festival was Freedom Summer. I saw many of the other films by the director Stanley Nelson. After I saw his film Freedom Riders at the 2010 Maryland Film Festival I sought out his other films. I thought the others were excellent and Freedom Summer was no different.


I saw ‘Summer’ in May of 2014 and just last month (April 2015) it won a prestigious Peabody Award.  "Reflecting excellence in quality, rather than popularity or commercial success, the Peabody is awarded to about 25–35 winners annually"

"With archival images, animation and fresh interviews, “Freedom Summer” recalls the voter-registration “freedom rides” of 1964, a campaign planned and trained for like a Civil Rights D-Day. The documentary is not only inspiring and instructive; it holds surprises even for those who believe they know this epochal American story."—Peabody Awards

I wasn’t surprised because I loved the film. It really detailed the civil rights struggle and all that were involved.

I never got a chance to review Freedom Summer, but here is an excerpt of an excellent one by CNN.

"The goal of Freedom Summer, though, was to do more than register black voters. It was to empower blacks as well. The volunteers established Freedom Schools where they taught black Mississippians about black history. They established an interracial delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention that made a daring, nationally publicized bid to unseat Mississippi's all-white delegation.

Some of the most powerful segments in the film, though, come during its smaller moments: A burly white sheriff viciously tries to snatch an American flag out of the hands of a small black boy leaving a courthouse; the boy bravely holds on while he's swung like a rag doll. A former beauty queen from Mississippi recounts how family members were driven from their homes simply for having dinner with Freedom Summer volunteers. A boy photographed being educated in a ramshackle Freedom School explains how that summer changed the arc of his life; he is now a poised college professor and author.  
One of the film's most riveting moments comes when volunteer Linda Wetmore Halpern tells a story that, until then, she had been too embarrassed to share.

Halpern was walking alone on a Mississippi road one day in her summer dress when a group of laughing white men drove up, surrounded her, and told her they hadn't killed a white girl yet.
The men grabbed her, tied a noose around her neck and tied the noose to the car. Then they started to drive, forcing her to keep up while calling her "nigger lover." As they sped up, Halpern says, she thought she was going to die.

The men then stopped, untied the noose from the car and laughed as they drove away. Halpern stood alone in the road petrified.
"I peed all over myself," she says, her voice shaking years later. "I just stood there and peed."

As you can read there were many wrought moments like these in the documentary. You can read the full CNN review here and you can watch the trailer below.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Casting Info: Great Voice Acting Advice from Andrea Romano & 'Empire' Casting [AUDIO & VIDEO]



Voice director and casting director Andrea Romano chats with host Chris Hardwick about her long career as being a casting director and voice director in animation and working on shows such as Justice League, Batman: The Animated Series, Pinky and The Brain, Animaniacs, The Smurfs and many, many more. 

She also gives her advice for anyone who wants a career in voice acting as well as EXACTLY where you can go to get voice work. She is a legend in the industry, look her up or LISTEN below and you'll see why.

http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/nerdist/Nerdist_621_-_Andrea_Romano.mp3Andrea Romano

_____________________________________________
  
CASTING AN EMPIRE

Empire's Casting Director Leah Daniels-Butler (sister of show creator Lee Daniels) talks about how and why she made the casting decisions for the breakout show on the AfterBuzz TV online broadcast network.

In a recent article Daniels-Butler states
"Rather than focus on who is not on ‘Empire’ we should be celebrating the actors who are doing amazing work week after week," Daniels Butler said in a press release. "Fans are in love with Cookie and Lucious because the actors who give life to the characters they portray are delivering award winning performances."

"There so many wonderful people that help make this show a #1, like the fantastic job Jussie Smollet (Jamal Lyons) is doing, and I cannot say enough about Kaitlin Doubleday (Rhonda Lyons) who had the unique challenge of filling a diversity role and does it seamlessly,” she added. “Why not celebrate those people?"

After discovering the likes of Gabourey Sidibe for the lead role in 2009’s “Precious,” Daniels-Butler also went on to praise the “growth” of breakout star Bryshere Y. Gray and applauded the musicianship of the “enormously talented" Ta'Rhonda Jones.—Huffington Post

You can go directly to the segment she talks about here and you can watch the entire show below.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Visually Stunning Film 'Jonah' [VIDEO & REVIEW]

JONAH

Directed by Kibwe Tavares
Written by Jack Thorne

Produced by Ivana MacKinnon, Fiz Oliver
Executive Producers - Katherine Butler, Ollie Madden, Chris Collins, Phil Dobree, Eva Yates

Editor - Adam Biskupsi
Cinematographer - Chloe Thomson
Production Designer: Paul Nicholls & Jonathan Gales
Visual Effects Supervisor: Paul Nicholls

Starring

Daniel Kaluuya
Malachi Kirby
and Louis Mahoney

Synopsis
Mbwana and his best friend Juma are two young men with big dreams. These dreams become reality when they photograph a gigantic fish leaping out of the sea and their small town blossoms into a tourist hot-spot as a result. But for Mbwana, the reality isn't what he dreamed – and when he meets the fish again, both of them forgotten, ruined and old, he decides only one of them can survive.


REVIEW

This visually stunning film is an example of how success can change a community and a friendship. Everyone wants success, but can they handle that success? The film starts out with great humor and excitement and then before your eyes turns into a visual delight.

As the ENTIRE FILM is below my commentary, I don't feel the need to go further. See for yourself. Who said change is good? Be careful watch you wish for.

COMMENTARY
Never even heard of this film before this event tonight


 As a proud AFFRM Maverick I always get notifications of events like this and get to discover pure gems like this film. Founded in 2011, African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement a.k.a. AFFRM is a theatrical distribution entity powered by the nation’s finest black film festival organizations.They have been holding steadfast to pushing and promoting black films like Jonah and I think that is great! I never heard of this film, but because of AFFRM I'm glad I have!

Linked below are many of the posts about AFFRM here at the 'Nother Brother Entertainment blog below the film.




Additional Links
I have written about AFFRM extensively on this blog since its inception. See all the posts here

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Excellent Film About Academy Awards Diversity [VIDEO]

The Huffington Post put together an excellent short film about diversity at the Academy Awards. In 2010 on our Sista blog Cool Black Media I put together a list, African American Milestones at the Academy Awards, detailing a lot of what is stated in this film.

Diversity in film has been a recurring theme on our blog and you can read those posts via the graphic below the video.


















CLICK the graphic below to see all of our blog posts about diversity


Friday, January 9, 2015

Selma – Review

SELMA 
Directed by Ava DuVernay

Produced by Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christian Colson & Oprah Winfrey

Written by Paul Webb

Cinematography by Bradford Young

Released: December 25, 2014 (USA)





Starring    
David Oyelowo
Carmen Ejogo
Tim Roth
Common
Omar Dorsey
Andre Holland
Colman Domingo
Wendell Pierce
Tessa Thompson
Keith Stanfield
 Stephan James
Henry G. Sanders
Trai Byers
Tom Wilkinson
 Oprah Winfrey

Synopsis: A chronicle of the campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, based on the 1965 marches led by James Bevel, Hosea Williams, and Martin Luther King, Jr. of The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and John Lewis of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

REVIEW: The word I can best describe Selma is POWERFUL. Director Ava DuVernay took NO time getting to the crux of the matter and letting you know, this isn’t going to be all kumbaya. The film as the title suggest is about SELMA and not just Martin Luther King Jr.  Selma deftly incorporates the many, many people it took to make this movement happen. We all have seen the people marching, but not much about the strategy, the organization that it took to coordinate it all. Selma also lets you see the honest discourse and how even when the organizers had many discussions about the direction of their movement, that in the end they all agreed on the same accord. We also get to see the dissertate between MLK and the president Lyndon Johnson.

There were also across the board great performances. David Oyelowo was really fantastic as MLK and gave life and powerful vigor to speeches written by the uncredited director herself Ava DuVernay. (The credited writer Paul Webb’s original contract stipulated that he’s entitled to sole screenwriting credit should he so desire it and he desired it.)

Another one of my favorite performances in the film came from Carmen Ejogo who played Coretta Scott King. She had so many great scenes in Selma and I’m going to say it, she probably wouldn’t have gotten such great scenes from a male filmmaker.

Lastly in a small, yet pivotal role I have to mention Henry G. Sanders who played Cager Lee (the 82 year old grandfather of Jimmie Lee Jackson) who gave one of the most superb singular performances I’ve seen in film 2014.

I‘d be remiss to not mention the costumes by Ruby E. Carter. Ms. Carter, an Oscar nominated Costume Designer, did not disappoint in Selma. Everyone was dressed to perfection in period clothing and by the below side by side pic alone from Ebony magazine you can tell her flawlessness.


Costume Designer Ruby E. Carter used an Ebony cover (right) to recreate the looks for David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo (right) based on what Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King wore during their historic march.
Photo: AP Photo; Paramount Pictures/Atsushi Nishijima
The period costumes were essential transporting you to the period.

The King estate also didn’t give the filmmakers license to use any of King's speeches. According to The Wrap "That forced DuVernay to write her own speeches for MLK, and an individual familiar with her contribution to the writing process tells The Wrap that the director performed “a page-one rewrite” on Webb’s original screenplay, changing the perspective of the story, adding nearly a dozen new characters and coming up with a new third act — the most crucial part of any script." I thought DuVernay did a great job at capturing the “essence of King” in the speeches she wrote.

Selma wasn’t all strategy and speeches as it didn’t hesitate at all to show the brutality involved in the civil rights movement and those scenes are where the film holds its power. Her staging coupled with the great cinematography of Bradford Young made crucial scenes stand out. Truthfully I’ve been a fan of DuVernay’s since she started directing feature films and even I had not expected Selma to be so hard hitting.

This was Ava DuVernay’s biggest film to date, most pivotal film to date and despite many obstacles she achieved something special. What makes this terrific film such an achievement is that days later you are still thinking about its message, its power, its history.

Click below to read more info about:
Selma to Montgomery marches
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)