Tag: Tribeca Film Festival

New “Mr. Soul!” Documentary Explores How Ellis Haizlip’s PBS Show “Soul!” Brought Black Culture to Talk Show TV

by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

Ellis Haizlip (photo via colorlines.com)

Ellis Haizlip broke the talk show and public television color barrier when he introduced SOUL!,” the weekly program he hosted during the late ’60s and early ’70s, to PBS. Now, a half decade after the show debuted, his niece Melissa Haizlip (“Crossing Jordan”) revisits his legacy with the documentary “Mr. SOUL!Deadline anticipated the world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival by unveiling the trailer (above) on April 4.

“There exists, as far as I know, no TV program that deals with my culture so completely, so freely, so beautifully,” the senior Haizlip remarked in archival footage from the trailer. To drive that point home, the trailer incorporates clips of performances from now-renowned Black artists as varied as Maya Angelou, Donny Hathaway and Alvin Ailey. Haizlip also conducted interviews on the show with Stokely Carmichael, James Baldwin and other activists and thought leaders.

Interviewees like Kathleen Cleaver, Sonia Sanchez and Harry Belafonte spoke to the importance of this show, which centered Black culture at a time when the U.S. was waging full-scale war on Black activism. “This is serious business, our lives were at stake!” Cleaver emphasized in the trailer.

PBS/Thirteen noted that Ellis Haizlip fought both on and off camera. He intentionally staffed his production team with Black crew members and publicly criticized the government-created Corporation for Public Broadcasting for pulling funding. “Worse than racism, I see this as the beginning of a systematic plan to remove Black programs from public television,” he told Jet magazine after the show’s cancellation in 1973.

“Mr. SOUL!” debuts at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 22.

Source: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/new-doc-explores-how-mr-soul-brought-black-culture-talk-show-tv

Viola Davis’ JuVee Productions Raising $250M for Content Development, Production & Distribution

Viola Davis and Julius Tennon (photo via shadowandact.com)

article via shadowandact.com

JuVee Productions – the integrated film, television and digital production company created by Viola Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon, is embarking on an effort to raise $250,000,000 in a global expansion plan for the development, production and distribution of diverse and inclusive film and digital content.

The fund will be used to develop, finance, produce and distribute a slate of multiple feature films and branded digital content that will see the relatively young production company expand its footprint globally. “The shift in storytelling should be inclusive and we aim to make it a reality,” says Julius Tennon in a press statement.

Launched in 2012 by Davis and Tennon, JuVee Productions is a Los Angeles-based artist driven production company that develops and produces independent film, television, theater, and digital content across all platforms. JuVee Productions aims to become the go-to creative hub where the next generation of filmmakers and artists have the space to craft dynamic stories spanning the broad spectrum of humanity.

The company’s most recent project is the courtroom drama “Custody” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and aired on the Lifetime network last week. The short film “Night Shift” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of this year and continues to tour the film festival circuit.

Upcoming the production company has the film adaptation of “The Personal History of Rachel DuPree” which Davis is starring in; a biopic on Barbara Jordan (the first Southern African American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives), also with Davis starring; and a TV period series set up at ABC titled “The Zipcoders,” set in 1968, about a group of black teenagers form a rock ‘n’ roll band who aspire to be like The Beatles; and there’s also Davis’ Harriet Tubman film with HBO.

To read full article, go to: Viola Davis’ JuVee Productions Raising $250M for Content Development, Production & Distribution – Shadow and Act

Lisa Lucas Named Executive Director of National Book Foundation

Lisa Lucas (photo via nytimes.com)
Lisa Lucas (photo via nytimes.com)

article by Zon D’Amour via hellobeautiful.com

Avid reader and magazine publisher Lisa Lucas has been named the new Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. Lucas is only the third executive director and first African American woman in the history of the literary organization which was formally established in 1986.

Its first executive director, Neil Baldwin, served until 2003. His successor, Harold Augenbraum, announced he would be retiring in the spring. Lucas will begin her position on Monday, March 14.

According to the New York Times, a part of Lucas’ initiatives as Executive Director will be overseeing the inclusion of more women and authors of color as recipients of the National Book Awards. The coveted prize has been honoring literary excellence since 1950.

“Readers are everything, readers are everyone. It should be about building one big massive audience that’s reflective of where we live” said Lucas.

Her literary background includes serving as the publisher of Guernica, an arts magazine with an international and often political focus. Prior to that, the 36-year-old worked for several nonprofit cultural institutions, including the Tribeca Film Festival and the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago.

In an interview with NPR, she shared her excitement for her new position, “It has just been an ecstatic joy to be able to do work in service of readers…it just feels like an extraordinary opportunity to build on the work they’ve done, and to keep figuring out ways to engage readers.”

FILM REVIEW: Nas’ Essential Contribution to Hip Hop Highlighted in Documentary “Time Is Illmatic”

Nas Time is Illmatic

It’s unlikely that hip-hop documentary “Time Is Illmatic” will have many showings as thrilling as its opening-night slot at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, where it preceded an impassioned live performance by its subject, the artist born Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones and better known by his stage name: Nas. Still, this brisk, stylish and extremely heartfelt portrait of Nas’ rise from the housing projects of Queensbridge to the heights of hip-hop royalty ably stands on its own, marked by an admirable focus on the man and his music rather than hype and hagiography. Sure to be embraced by fans (but also a fine primer for neophytes), “Time” should have a long home-viewing shelf life following additional fest and select theatrical bookings.

In his feature directing debut, the former graffiti artist and graphic designer One9 smartly avoids trying for a comprehensive career portrait of Nas, instead centering on the rapper’s humble origins and the making of his landmark 1994 debut album, “Illmatic.” Comparable in its impact on hip-hop to that of Jackson Pollock’s splatter paintings on the art world, “Illmatic” seemed a prodigal work, constructed of airtight rhythms and intricate rhymes, steeped in the violent realities of ghetto life yet far-reaching in its lyric and musical allusions (including “samples” that ran the gamut from jazz to Michael Jackson), as intimate as a diary while also serving as a very public statement of artistic intent. Nas was all of 20 at the time, and best known for his electrifying guest rapping on popular singles by Main Source and MC Serch.

Two decades later, Nas is close to an eminence grise, but the figure who appears onscreen for much of “Time Is Illmatic” appears humbled by his massive success and is quick to acknowledge those who helped pave the way (like the pioneering female rapper Roxanne Shante, who gave the teenage Nas an early break as part of her crew), as well as those (like childhood friend Willie “Ill Will” Graham) who were less lucky at surviving the Queensbridge mean streets. To this, the film adds a carefully selected mix of testimonials from friends, family members, artistic collaborators and assorted lions of old-school hip-hop. But save for a couple of fleeting appearances by Cornel West and Henry Louis Gates, “Time” eschews third-party critical analysis in favor of keeping the focus on neighborhood and personal experience, a cinematic “trip down memory lane” to complement the one Nas rapped about on “Illmatic” itself.

The pic’s first half devotes much of its energy to anatomizing Nas’ childhood and early performance career, with particular attention to his parents — the jazz sideman Olu Dara and his wife, Ann Jones — who raised their two sons (Nas and younger brother Jabari, aka “Jungle”) in a bohemian cocoon of art, books and music very different from the Queensbridge norm. After a brief childhood flirtation with the trumpet, Nas had already begun writing rhymes by age 8. Curiously, it was Dara himself, by then divorced from Ann, who persuaded both boys to drop out of New York’s public school system (where he believed they were receiving an inferior, resource-starved education) after completing the eighth grade. He wanted them to follow their entrepreneurial dreams, which was easier said than done in the New York of the pre-Giuliani, crack-besieged late ’80s and early ’90s.

Fans of old-school hip-hop will take particular delight in the docu’s evocation of the neighborhood rivalries and MC battles that played out in the form of tracks like Marly Marl and MC Shan’s “The Bridge” and KRS-One’s “South Bronx,” and helped to stoke the young Nas’ creative fires. (The opening cut of “Illmatic” featured a prominent sample of the seminal 1983 hip-hop feature “Wild Style,” also excerpted here.) Returning today to the old neighborhood, Nas reflects emotionally on the devastation wrought by drugs and gang violence and how, but for a few strokes of luck, he too might have become another victim.

In its second half, “Time” shifts gears to the recording of “Illmatic,” with Nas and his quintet of illustrious producers (Nas, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, L.E.S. and DJ Premier) offering insightful, track-by-track deconstructions of the album’s most enduring cuts: “Life’s a Bitch,” “One Love,” “The World Is Yours” and “It Ain’t Hard to Tell,” with its inspired sampling of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.”

The documentary occasionally reveals its multiyear gestation period in the variable range of video formats used to capture the interviews, but otherwise sports a polished, professional sheen.

review by Scott Foundas via Variety.com

 

Xosha Roquemore Joins ‘Mindy Project’ As New Regular

Actress Xosha Roquemore has been added to the cast of Fox’s The Mindy Project as a new regular next season after doing a three-episode arc on the comedy’s current freshman season. Roquemore recently landed a major recurring role on TV Land’s new Kirstie Alley comedy series after guest starring in the pilot, but in light of the Mindy Project opportunity, the cable network let the actress out and will recast her role. Roquemore also co-stars in G.B.F., which is premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival.

article by Nellie Andreeva via deadline.com

Whoopi Goldberg Developing 10-Part Series on the History of Black Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg

Oscar-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg is developing a 10-part documentary series exploring the history of black entertainment from the 1800s through the present. “The View” host announced her next project last week during the Tribeca Film Festival screening of her debut documentary, “I Got Somethin’ To Tell You.”

An audience member asked Goldberg what her next non-fiction project would be after the success of “I Got Somethin’ To Tell You.” She responded by explaining the difficulties of creating her first documentary and how it inspired her to expand on the research of black entertainers. Goldberg said the “history of black entertainers, comedy and vaudeville has not been covered comprehensively onscreen” according to Real Screen.

“I Got Somethin’ To Tell You” focuses on the life of comedic pioneer Moms Mabley. The documentary was completely funded through Kickstarter. Goldberg expressed her gratitude to all that donated to her campaign.

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‘Imagine A Future: My Black Is Beautiful’ Documentary Debuts During The Tribeca Film Festival

Imagine A Future

“Imagine A Future: My Black Is Beautiful” debuts during The Tribeca Film Festival.

It was only a year ago that Procter & Gamble’s My Black Is Beautiful (MBIB), an organization that celebrates the diverse beauty of African-American women and fosters self-esteem, launched the initiative “Imagine A Future.”

The program, a collaboration with Black Girls Rock, aims to create opportunities for young black girls throughout the country by providing resources that foster a greater sense of confidence. And they aren’t just talking a few hundred or a few thousand girls — the goal is to reach one million young women over the next two years.

Now, Procter & Gamble is strengthening this herculean task with a dose of Hollywood. The mega consumer goods company and executive producer Beverly Bond have created a documentary called “Imagine A Future: My Black Is Beautiful,” which debuted Sunday afternoon at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The film, which is co-directed by Shola Lynch and Lisa Cortes, follows Janet Goldsboro, a teenager from Delaware, who is struggling to find and own her worth. Like any boy-crazy teen girl, Goldsboro is plagued with insecurities, however it’s the color of her skin that she finds most troubling.

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