Tag: “Beyond The Lights”

Gina Prince-Bythewood to Direct and Gugu Mbatha-Raw to Star in Adaptation of Roxane Gay Novel “An Untamed State”

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Director Gina Prince-Bythewood and actor Gugu Mbatha-Raw (photo via deadline.com)

article by Mike Fleming Jr. via deadline.com

Gina Prince-Bythewood will direct and Gugu Mbatha-Raw will star in An Untamed State, an adaptation of Roxane Gay‘s debut novel that the director will co-write with the author for Fox Searchlight. Michael De Luca will produce through his Michael De Luca Productions banner with Prince-Bythewood.

an untamed stateThe novel tells the powerful, unflinching story of a Haitian-American woman kidnapped for ransom in front of her husband and child. The novel explores the privilege that made her a target and the strength she must draw on to survive and reclaim her life. Prince-Bythewood is best known for directing Love and BasketballBeyond the Lights, and The Secret Life of Bees, and with husband, Reggie Rock Bythewood, she is executive producing the 10-hour event series Shots Fired for Fox, Imagine Television and Undisputed Cinema. Mbatha-Raw most recently starred in Concussion and Belle, and she teamed with Prince-Bythewood on Beyond the Lights.

To read more, go to: http://deadline.com/2016/03/gugu-mbatha-raw-to-star-gina-prince-bythewood-to-helm-an-untamed-state-1201724469/

Filmmaker Nate Parker to Launch New School Dedicated to Film and Drama at HBCU Wiley College

Nate Parker of 'The Birth of a Nation' (photo via Time.com)
Nate Parker of ‘The Birth of a Nation’ (photo via Time.com)

article by Tommy G. Meade Jr. via hbcubuzz.com

Wiley College officially announced early Sunday that “Beyond the Lights” and “The Great Debaters” actor Nate Parker, who is also a director, producer, writer and musical performer, is starting a film and drama school there to help empower young people in East Texas and across the country.

(The film The Great Debaters depicts the black college debate team beating Harvard College in the 1930s, though, the team actually didn’t face off against Harvard. At the time, historically black Wiley College was David and University of Southern California was Goliath, and indeed David defeated Goliath in this matchup.)

KLTV reported on Friday that Nate Parker has been keeping tabs on the black college and “even using their a capella choir for the soundtrack of his film The Birth of a Nation,” as well as announcing his election to the college board of trustees, in which Parker said he’s “honored” to serve at the position.

Now when exactly does classes begin? Here’s what we know:

  • The first classes for the Nate Parker School of Film and Drama will be held in the fall.
  • Before that though, about 30 high school and college students, after being picked, will have the opportunity to join a nine day summer institute as a pilot program for the school.
  • In addition, ten current seniors at the black college have already been picked to serve at the institute this summer as staff.

But those are short-term goals for the school. Nate Parker also wants to “bring Hollywood back to East Texas” and to “create a pipeline toward filmmaking physically through developing the college, having filmmakers be nurtured and cultivated here, and then having somewhere for them to go with respect for them actually being able to engage in filmmaking here in East Texas, then it kind of serves multiple purposes,” he said.

“You control the moving picture, you control the masses. So really getting them rallied around the idea of re-claiming the narrative of America, specifically through the eyes of people of color,” Parker said.

How Four Black Women in Entertainment Created a Film Scholarship to Foster New Voices

Four Sistersarticle by Paula Rogo via essence.com

When Dehanza Rogers first heard of the Four Sisters Endowed Scholarship, she wondered at the meaning of the name.

“I mean what sisters are we talking about?” she remembers thinking to herself. “It could have meant any number of things.”

Then a first-year MFA student at the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television, the 2014 graduate applied for the scholarship to help fund her thesis film years late.

But when she saw the names behind the scholarship, she knew what sistas they were actually talking about: Sara Finney-Johnson, Mara Brock Akil, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Felicia D. Henderson. From Being Mary Jane and Moesha to Love & Basketball and Soul Food: The Series, these four women have created some of the most important talking points in Black television and film lexicon.

Indeed, for decades, they have consistently been telling stories of the Black experience, navigating an industry that is notorious as much for its lack of diversity in storytelling as its storytellers. Each had her share of pushback and difficulties. And it was from these experiences that the idea —- to endow a scholarship towards filmmakers wanting to create African-American themed projects  — was born. And the four friends agreed to endow it in a place that molds future industry influencers:  film school.

Continue reading “How Four Black Women in Entertainment Created a Film Scholarship to Foster New Voices”

‘Birth of a Nation’ Lands at Fox Searchlight in Record $17.5 Million Deal at Sundance Film Festival

The Birth of a Nation Sundance
Image from “Birth of a Nation” (COURTESY OF SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVA)L

Fox Searchlight, the specialty films division of 21st Century Fox,  is closing a $17.5 million deal to acquire worldwide rights to “The Birth of a Nation,” a drama about the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner, that had an electrifying premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

The Weinstein Company, Netflix, Paramount, and Sony were among the companies making offers on the picture. Bidding lasted through the night, with one company, believed to be Netflix, offering $20 million for the picture. The deal is the richest in Sundance history.

The film was written and directed by Nate Parker, who also stars as Turner and invested his own money in the production. Parker is best known for his work in “The Great Debaters” and “Beyond the Lights.” The response to the picture was seismic and the Oscar buzz erupted as soon as the lights went up following the picture’s debut at the Eccles Theatre.

In a rave reviewVariety critic Justin Chang wrote, “‘The Birth of a Nation’ exists to provoke a serious debate about the necessity and limitations of empathy, the morality of retaliatory violence, and the ongoing black struggle for justice and equality in this country. It earns that debate and then some.”

The cast includes Armie Hammer, Penelope Ann Miller, Jackie Earle Haley and Mark Boone Junior.

article by Brent Lang and Ramin Setoodeh via Variety.com

Gina Prince-Bythewood and Sanaa Lathan Reunite for Racially-Charged Police Shooting TV Project at Fox

Sanaa Lathan
Sanaa Lathan (PHOTO COURTESY OF FOX)

Fox is developing a new event series revolving around a racially-motivated police shooting.  The project hails from “Love & Basketball” writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood and will star Sanaa Lathan, who starred in the 2000 film.

The untitled event series examines the dangerous aftermath of a police shooting when an African-American cop kills a white teen in Tennessee. Lathan (“The Perfect Guy”) will play an expert investigator who digs into the case, alongside a yet-to-be-cast special prosecutor sent to the town by the Department of Justice. The duo must navigate the media attention, public debate and social unrest that accompany such a volatile case, as they seek justice before the divided town erupts into a race war.

The announcement of the project comes amidst of an uproar of recent media attention on racially-motivated police attacks, most notably the Trayvon Martin case, in which the African American teenager was fatally shot by George Zimmerman. The Fox project, however, features a race-flipped scenario with a white teen being killed by a black cop.

Prince-Bythewood, along with Reggie Rock Bythewood, will serve as writers and exec producers on the 20th Century Fox project, which will be directed by Prince-Bythewood. Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo will also exec produce. Prince-Bythewood’s Undisputed Cinema and Imagine Television will also produce.

The event series reunites Lathan and Gina Prince-Bythewood, who worked together “Love & Basketball.” Prince-Bythewood and Bythewood also worked together on “Beyond the Lights.”

article by Elizabeth Wagmeister via Variety.com

“Selma” Earns Two Academy Award Nominations, Including Best Picture

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 2.15.40 PM

The nominations for the 87th annual Academy Awards were announced this morning, and among them were two for “Selma”, for Best Picture and its Original Song “Glory” by Common and John Legend.  The only other movie prominently featuring African-Americans that garnered a nomination is Gina Prince-Bythewood‘s “Beyond The Lights”, also in the Original Song category for “Grateful” written by Diane Warren and performed by Rita Ora.

If “Selma” does win Best Picture out this year’s field of eight, the producers accepting the Award will be Oprah Winfrey, Christian Colson, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner.

A full list of nominees appears below:

BEST PICTURE

NOMINEES

AMERICAN SNIPER

Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan, Producers

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE)

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole, Producers

BOYHOOD

Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland, Producers

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson, Producers

THE IMITATION GAME

Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman, Producers

SELMA

Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten, Producers

WHIPLASH

Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster, Producers

Continue reading ““Selma” Earns Two Academy Award Nominations, Including Best Picture”

21st Annual African-American Film Marketplace and S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase to Feature Gina Prince-Bythewood & Michael Schultz

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(Hollywood, CA) – The Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC) hosts its 21st Annual African American Film Marketplace and S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase January 16-18, 2015 at Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, California 90038.

Presenting 52 short films, youth films, documentaries and animated shorts, featuring over 45 Filmmakers from all over the country, Q&A after selected blocks of films, and an evening with famed director Michael Schultz and special surprise guest filmmakers.

michael schultz

On Friday, January 16, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at the Opening Night Reception, BHERC will host a conversation with Schultz as it presents the best BHERC independent short filmmakers of 2014.

Schultz, an alumni of Princeton University, the Negro Ensemble Company, and an inductee into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, is best known for his direction of “Cooley High,” “Car Wash” and “Which Way Is Up?”, and most recently “Woman Thou Art Loosed.”  Some of his episodic television direction includes “Arrow,” “Single Ladies” and “Black-ish” to name a few.

Gina Prince-Bythewood (Writer/Producer/Director) wrote and directed the widely-acclaimed feature film “Love & Basketball,”  which premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. Prince-Bythewood won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay and a Humanitas Prize for her work on the film.

She followed that success with the HBO film “Disappearing Acts.”  In 2008, she wrote and directed the celebrated adaptation of the best-selling novel, “The Secret Life of Bees.” The all-star cast included Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Paul Bettany, Jennifer Hudson, Sophie Okonedo and Alicia Keys. The film won two People’s Choice Awards and two NAACP Image Awards.gina prince-bythewood

Her third feature, “Beyond the Lights,” was released on Nov. 14, 2014. The love story set in the music world, stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, Minnie Driver and Danny Glover. It received rave reviews and landed on a number of top critics Best of 2014 lists.

Prince-Bythewood studied at UCLA Film School, where she received the Gene Reynolds Scholarship for Directing and the Ray Stark Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Undergraduate.  Upon her graduation, she was hired as a writer on the television series “A Different World.”  She continued to write and produce for network television on series such as “Felicity,” “South Central,” and “Sweet Justice”  before making the transition to directing.

Continue reading “21st Annual African-American Film Marketplace and S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase to Feature Gina Prince-Bythewood & Michael Schultz”

‘Get On Up,’ ‘Selma,’ ‘Dear White People’ Score NAACP Image Award Nominations (Full List)

"Dear White People"
NAACP Image Award Best Picture nominee “Dear White People”

“Belle,” “Beyond the Lights,” “Dear White People,” “Get On Up” and “Selma” have grabbed top film nominations for the 46th annual NAACP Image Awards.

The Image Awards will be handed out Feb. 6 in a ceremony telecast live by TV One.

“Get On Up” star Chadwick Boseman, “Selma’s” David Oyelowo, Nate Parker of “Beyond the Lights,” Gugu Mbatha-Raw of “Belle” and Tessa Thompson of “Dear White People” are among the actors who were cited.

Boseman, Oyelowo and Mbatha-Raw are all portraying real-life people.

In the TV heat, ABC freshman “Black-ish” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black,” BET’s “The Game” and “Being Mary Jane” were among the top nominees. ABC did well, earning three of the five drama-series nominations. Also notable was Lifetime’s scoring seven of the 10 nominations in the two lead acting categories for telefilm/miniseries/dramatic special.

Here is a full list of Image Award nominees:

MOTION PICTURE

Motion Picture

  • “Belle” (Fox Searchlight Pictures/ DJ Films)
  • “Beyond The Lights” (Relativity Media)
  • “Dear White People” (Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions)
  • “Get On Up” (Universal Pictures)
  • “Selma” (Paramount Pictures)

Actor in a Motion Picture

  • Chadwick Boseman – “Get On Up” (Universal Pictures)
  • David Oyelowo – “Selma” (Paramount Pictures)
  • Denzel Washington – “The Equalizer” (Columbia Pictures)
  • Idris Elba – “No Good Deed” (Screen Gems)
  • Nate Parker – “Beyond The Lights” (Relativity Media)
 Actress in a Motion Picture
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw – “Belle” (Fox Searchlight Pictures/ DJ Films)
  • Quvenzhané Wallis – “Annie” (Columbia Pictures)
  • Taraji P. Henson – “No Good Deed” (Screen Gems)
  • Tessa Thompson – “Dear White People” (Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions)
  • Viola Davis – “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” (The Weinstein Company)

Continue reading “‘Get On Up,’ ‘Selma,’ ‘Dear White People’ Score NAACP Image Award Nominations (Full List)”

Filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood Issues Urgent Open Letter; Support Black Film #BeyondTheLights

gina prince bythewood
Writer-Producer-Director Gina Prince-Bythewood issues Open Letter about her film Beyond The Lights. ” We need positive images to counter the negative portrayals we see every day.”

After the first preview audience screening of “Love & Basketball” a 17 year-old Black boy said, “The movie taught me how to love.” Fourteen years later, after the first preview audience screening of “beyond the lights,” a 17 year-old Black boy said, “I didn’t really believe in hope and love before, but this movie changed me.” That is why I make movies. Movies have power. Power to impact society and the choices we make. I want to entertain, but I also want to say something to the world.

nate & gina

I love movies. And I dig a great love story; the kind that wrecks me, then builds me back up and leaves me inspired. I write what I want to see. I wanted to make a love story with two people of color in the lead. Not a romantic comedy. A love story. “Beyond the Lights” took incredible fight to get made. Four years of writing, and two years of overcoming “no.” Every studio balked. Twice. But I kept fighting. What gave me the courage was “Love & Basketball.” Every studio turned down that film, too. But I never gave up because I believed in it with my whole heart and soul.

I had the same passion for this story. People ask me all the time if I feel discriminated against as a black female director and I actually don’t. I get offered a ton of stuff. But I like to direct what I’ve written. I feel what’s discriminated against are my choices, which is to focus on people of color as real people. Those are the films that rarely get made and those are the films that take a lot more fight. But I’m up for the fight, because if we don’t fight for this we stay invisible. I want us to look up on the screen and see ourselves reflected beautifully. I want us to look up on screen and learn how to love the right way. I want us to look up on screen and see a black man who is strong, sexy, complicated, and real. I want us to look up on screen and see a black woman fighting to find her voice, find her authentic self and be brave enough to live an authentic life. I want us to look up on screen and be inspired to want more for ourselves, to want to love, and to love ourselves.

There is a perception within our community and the world that black people don’t love each other. That we don’t fight for each other. That perception is so dangerous. We need positive images to counter the negative portrayals we see every day. And positive doesn’t mean perfect. Perfect is boring. I want real. But more than anything, “beyond the lights” is a really good movie experience that I don’t want you to miss. It is the kind of movie that should be shared. That collective explosive reaction to character, story, and music is fun. The advanced screenings have been like revivals. Audiences break into applause during the movie. Phenomenal performances. Insane chemistry between Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker.  Dope music.  Beautifully complex mother/daughter and father/son relationships that are rarely explored with people of color.  You will laugh. You may cry.  You will feel.  And you may be changed.  I hope you check out the film over this holiday weekend.  It is a time to be grateful.  It is time to be inspired. It is a time to fight.

Gina Prince-Bythewood