BLACK HISTORY MONTH: The Best New Films to Watch this February

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Movies to see this Black History Month (photo collage via theguardian.com)

article by Rebecca Carroll via theguardian.com

Fences

If you’ve ever seen or read an August Wilson play, you know that writing is how the late playwright processed the world around him – a magnificently black world filled with funk and nuance in which language plays a central role. For Wilson, though, learning how to work with that language as a writer didn’t happen overnight. “For the longest time I couldn’t make my characters talk,” Wilson told me several years ago before his death in 2005. “I thought in order to incorporate the black vernacular into literature, the language had to be changed or altered in some way to sound more clear … until I realized that it’s no less romantic and meaningful to say, ‘It’s cold outside.’” As a play, Wilson’s Fences, which tells the story of a working-class black man – who was denied a baseball career in the major leagues – trying to raise his family in mid-century Pittsburgh, gives us that blunt romance and powerful meaning. As a movie, it gives us Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Enough said.

Fences is on nationwide release now

Get Out

I don’t go in for horror films at all – not even horror film parodies – but I also can’t think of a brighter, more innovative voice in film right now than Jordan Peele, one half of the masterful sketch comedy series Key and Peele, which he co-created with Keegan-Michael Key. And while the potentially great Keanu, co-written by Peele and Alex Rubin, was a disappointing failure, Get Out, which Peele both wrote and directed, looks legitimately genius. The premise is a pretty straightforward Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner setup – rich white girlfriend brings her smart, learned black boyfriend upstate for a weekend to meet the parents – what could go wrong? It’ll be awkward, parents will remark more than once on how articulate the black boyfriend is, lecture them both on how hard it will be to maintain an interracial relationship in this day and age, and then finally concede that love is all that matters. Or will it?

Get Out will be in theaters February 24

Hidden Figures

In America, when it comes to the mainstream celebration of black historical figures, we primarily see the spotlight shined on our athletes, entertainers and a handful of activists who generally get depoliticized posthumously. Seldom do we hear about engineers, innovators and mathematicians, much less our black women in those positions. It’s thrilling and really quite long overdue for a film like Hidden Figures, which tells the story of “colored computers” Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who worked at NASA in the early 1960s and played a vital role in getting John Glenn and the Friendship 7 into space. As Katherine Johnson, Taraji P. Henson is on career-best form – pushing her glasses up on her nose, hustling to the coloreds bathroom carrying a stack of data research, doing mathematical equations on a chalkboard – creating a truly revelatory performance. Octavia Spencer as Dorothy and Janelle Monáe as Mary are icing on the cake. An added bonus comes in the form of Pharrell Williams, who is a producer on the film and wrote original songs for the soundtrack that give the movie a beautiful sense of joy.

Hidden Figures is in nationwide release now

I Am Not Your Negro

The thing about James Baldwin, beyond his utter brilliance and undeniable prescience as a writer and public intellectual, is that he was like the blackest man who ever lived. And he wore it like a badge of honor. In the newly Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro, Haitian-born film-maker Raoul Peck mines Baldwin’s unpublished writing about the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to create an intellectual and visual mosaic that somehow captures Baldwin’s own very personal and stubborn sense of blackness. It hits hard, and the film will make you long for the leadership and integrity of Evers, King and Malcolm in these increasingly divisive times. But it will also, if only temporarily, let you sit in the glory that is James Baldwin’s company.

I Am Not Your Negro is out on Friday

To read full article, go to: The best new releases to watch during Black History Month | Film | The Guardian

Taraji P. Henson and Pharrell Williams Offer Multiple Free Screenings Of ‘Hidden Figures’

Taraji P. Henson and Pharrell Williams (photo via essence.com)

article by Paula Rogo via essence.com

Taking a cue from Octavia Spencer, both Taraji P. Henson and Pharrell Williams have bought out screenings of Hidden Figures at movie theaters in Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Texas and Washington D.C. on Sunday.  Spencer paid for a free screening of the critically-acclaimed film earlier this month, saying that her own mother would not have been able to afford to take her and her siblings.

Henson, who plays the lead role as NASA physicist and mathematician Katherine Johnson, was inspired to do the same in Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, and of course, her hometown of Washington D.C. On Instagram, she said she was moved by Spencer and “similar actions taken by so many of YOU across the country.” Anonymous donors have been buying out whole screenings.

To see full article, go to: Taraji and Pharrell Offer Multiple Free Screenings Of ‘Hidden Figures’ | Essence.com

“Moonlight”, “People Vs. OJ Simpson”, “Atlanta”, Ruth Negga, Octavia Spencer, Pharrell, Issa Rae and Many More Receive 2017 Golden Globe Nominations

(photo via madamenoire.com)

2017 Golden Globe nominees (l-r) Issa Rae, Naomie Harris, Kerry Washington, Thandie Newton, Tracee Ellis Ross and Viola Davis (photo via madamenoire.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

It seems as if last year’s #OscarsSoWhite backlash has had a marked effect on this year’s pool of projects and talent considered and honored as the 2017 awards season gets underway.

The 2017 Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning, and nominees of color were found in the majority of film and television categories.  Indie film sensation “Moonlight” not only garnered a nod for Best Motion Picture, Drama, but also for directing and screenwriting by Barry Jenkins, in the Best Actress category for Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali was recognized in the supporting actor category.

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis were honored for their performances in “Fences”Ruth Negga was nominated for her leading role in “Loving,” and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer grabbed a nomination for her supporting role in the upcoming space race drama “Hidden Figures.”  Additionally, Pharrell Williams is in the running for Best Original Score — Motion Picture, for his work on the music for “Hidden Figures.”

2017 Golden Globe nominees Donald Glover, Pharrell and Riz (photo via billboard.com)

2017 Golden Globe nominees Donald Glover, Pharrell and Riz (photo via billboard.com)

On the television side, Donald Glover‘s “Atlanta” received nods in two categories; Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.  Anthony Anderson provides some competition for Glover in the acting category, and “Black-ish” is nominated for Best Comedy Television Series as well.  Tracee Ellis Ross gained a nod in the Lead Comedy Actress category, as did “Insecure” star Issa Rae.

In limited series, actress Thandie Newton was nominated for Westworld, and Kerry Washington‘s portrayal of Anita Hill in “Confirmation” was also acknowledged.  Emmy winner Courtney B. Vance gained a nod for his work as Johnny Cochran in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”  and the series was nominated in the Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television category alongside Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley’s “American Crime.”

Below is a list of all the nominees:
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21st Century Fox and Pepsico Team Up to Offer STEM Scholarships with “Hidden Figures” Contest for Girls and Women

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Are you a real-life “hidden figure” on her way to changing the world? You could win a scholarship to help make your STEM dreams come true! PepsiCo and 21st Century Fox are partnering to find the next generation of girls and women who will lead the way in STEM. Sound like you? Enter the Search for Hidden Figures contest by Dec. 10!

Prizes are awards of $200,000 total in scholarships to 12 standout finalists. Winners will also receive exclusive opportunities and more from PepsiCo and Hidden Figures.

For more information and contest rules, go to https://searchforhiddenfigures.com

Official Trailer for “Hidden Figures” Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae Debuts During Olympics

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

The trailer for “Hidden Figures”, the Fox 2000 drama starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons, directed by Theodore Melfi, with original music from Pharrell Williams, debuted last night on NBC during the women’s gymnastics individual event finals at the Rio Olympics.  In case you missed it – watch it here and mark your calendars – the movie will go into wide release on January 13, 2017.

The film, based on the upcoming book by Margot Lee Shetterly, is the true story of the black female mathematicians who worked at NASA in the 1960s and helped put John Glenn into orbit.  To learn more about the movie and the history, click here.

Pharrell Williams Joins Fox 2000’s “Hidden Figures” Starring Taraji P. Henson as Producer, Will Write Music

Pharrell Williams (photo via deadline.com)

Pharrell Williams (photo via deadline.com)

article by Dave McNary via Variety.com*

Pharrell Williams will produce Taraji P. Henson’s mathematics drama “Hidden Figures” and write original songs for the soundtrack.

Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping and Ted Melfi are also producing, and Melfi is directing. Williams will oversee all musical elements for the motion picture and its soundtrack.

Henson stars along with Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe as a trio of brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind the 1962 launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit — a key milestone in the space race against the Soviet Union to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

“After my producing partner Mimi Valdés and I heard about this project, we basically begged the producers and studio to allow us to participate,” Williams said. “This is an extraordinary story about black women with genius mathematical minds who contributed to American history. It takes place in Virginia, my home state, and at NASA, a place I’ve been obsessed with since childhood.”

Fox will release “Hidden Figures” on Jan. 13. Also starring are Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge and Kevin Costner. The screenplay is by Alison Schroeder, Melfi and Lori Lakin Hutcherson.

Williams has won 10 Grammy Awards. He’s also known for his musical contributions to the “Despicable Me” films as well as his judging stint on NBC’s “The Voice.”

*(GBN disclosure from Editor-in-Chief Lori Lakin Hutcherson:  the above is an article in which I am mentioned, as I am primarily a writer in television and film, and was fortunate enough to work on “Hidden Figures.” It may be a conflict of interest to have published this, but so be it – it’s an awesome film and Good Black News regardless!)

Q-Tip Named Kennedy Center’s 1st Artistic Director of Hip-Hop

Q-Tip (photo via eurweb.com)

Q-Tip (photo via eurweb.com)

article by Maeve McDermott via usatoday.com

Before last year, Kennedy Center hosting hip hop shows seemed like an unlikely prospect.

But after hosting Kendrick Lamar’s sold-out performance with the National Symphony Orchestra last year, the center’s 2016 season includes its first hip hop culture series, bringing on rapper and producer Q-Tip as their first artistic director of hip hop.

The social justice-oriented rapper is best known as a founding member of the seminal hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, and has worked with many of music’s biggest names, including Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, the Beastie Boys, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige and Pharrell Williams.

The Kennedy Center, which celebrates John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday this year, announced details of six events celebrating different facets of hip hop culture, including a poetry slam, a teach-in and a dance competition. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and soprano Renee Fleming were also appointed at-large artistic advisers for the 2016-2017 season, according to the AP.

“This new programmatic platform recognizes Hip Hop’s contributions to global culture and its role in promoting values such as courage, freedom, justice, and service,” the center announced in a release.

To read more, go to: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2016/03/08/q-tip-named-kennedy-center-first-hip-hop-director/81485882/