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The DC Sniper Attacks, 10 Years Later & The Upcoming Isaiah Washington Film Adaptation

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by Tambay A. Obenson
October 2, 2012 5:03 PM
5 Comments
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Still Photo From 'Blue Caprice' - Photographed By Robert Blake

The Washington Post remembers the so-called Beltway (Washington D.C. area) sniper attacks, which begun exactly 10 years ago today, October 2, 2002.

10 people were killed over a 3 week period, in October 2002 in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. 

It was later learned that the rampage was perpetrated by one man, John Allen Muhammad, and one minor, Lee Boyd Malvo, driving a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice sedan, and had apparently begun their killing spree a month prior, with murders and robberies in Louisiana and Alabama.

On the Washington Post's website is a chillingly candid, though remorseful interview with Malvo, now 27, who's currently serving 6 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole (John Allen Muhammad was executed by lethal injection in November 2009). 

I encourage you to listen to the full hour-long interview with Malvo HERE. It's very revealing. He remembers every single detail, and recounts a lot of his time with John Allen, and his reasons for his actions.

In listening to the interview, I of course remembered the upcoming film based on the tragedy, which stars Isaiah Washington as John Allen, and Tequan Richmond, best known for TV's Everybody Hates Chris, as Lee Boyd Malvo, appropriately titled Blue Capricedirected by Alexandre Moors, New York-based film, music-video and commercial director; you've likely seen some of his work, as he's directed videos for the likes of Kanye West and Talib Kweli.

Each time we've written about this project, the comments sections have been active with discussion/debate, even though all we've seen of it thus far is a 34-second teaser that really doesn't reveal much at all.

Obviously the story the film is based on is familiar and controversial itself. 

But all the pre-release conversation about the film and its story should make it a hot-button film when it's eventually released.

I've seen a few minutes more of the film than most of you, thanks to it being selected for the for the eighth annual IFP Narrative Labs over the summer, as well as during Independent Film Week here in NYC, which I covered.

And I can say that I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the rest of it, as well as the discussions that follow.

The IFP initiative it was selected for provides, amongst other things, completion, marketing and distribution assistance for sub-1 million-budgeted projects.

Still no definite word on when the film will debut; although a Sundance 2013 premiere won't be a surprise.

Its official synopsis reads:

Blue Caprice examines of one of the most charged and enigmatic events of the past decade: the 2002 shooting spree that terrorized the Washington, D.C. area and would come to be known as the Beltway sniper attacks. The film tells the story of the two snipers, Lee Malvo and John Williams, during the months leading up to the shootings, piecing together clues in an attempt to understand the circumstances and motives behind their horrific actions.

And here's an excerpt from an interview Vanessa did with Washington last fall, in which Blue Caprice was discussed:

VM: Tell me about Blue Caprice, in which you will play D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad and which you’re currently filming. How did you prepare for the role?

IW: I’m a human being, I’m going to have to tell the truth and bring honesty to the script, but, I can say that the best thing has been two books I read; one by Russian author from the 19th century Fyodor Dostoyevsky called Notes from the Underground and the book Scared Silent from John Allen Muhammad’s former wife [Mildred Muhammad]. Hopefully, it [Blue Caprice] will be very thought provoking, very intense, funny. Hopefully, people will walk out of the theater really confused about how they feel over what they thought they knew about this man because, what we see is ‘wow, this man is also trying to be a good father to his 3 kids and they were taken way from him. Now...does that excuse his behavior? Nah! But I will say that although you may not agree, hopefully it will help you understand.

VM: Tequan Richmond plays your young accomplice in the film, Lee Boyd Malvo. How is working with him?

IW: He’s going to be the breakout star of this film. I’m sure he’s going to be the one that gets all the awards and nominations. He’s young, a great professional, highly motivated, very passionate about this role and the film. I wish him nothing but the best. I told him, “if you don’t get nominated for an Oscar for this; I’m wasting my time!"

So, given his enthusiasm, the film's IFP Labs selection, the subject matter (and the fact that it appears the film will *humanize* John Allen, contrasting the monster that many see him as), the cast, director Moors' background, and the moody teaser (embedded below if you haven't seen it), I'm certainly intrigued.

And we could even say similar things about the actor who stars in the film - Isaiah Washington.

Little has been revealed since our last post on it last fall... until today's news that the project is one of 10 sub-1 million-budgeted projects selected 

Blue Caprice from alexandre moors on Vimeo.

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5 Comments

  • kirk | October 6, 2012 10:34 PMReply

    Hollywood Executive: "Yes we should do the sniper film. Let's not showcase the cheshire murderers. First, we'll surely get sued. It would be more entertaining showing two black guys who ruin their lives and the end the lives of 10 people. "

    Hollywood Executive 2: "That's right! As long as the story is well told and is put in 'sure hands.' I mean they accepted precious and precious made a lot of money. Hell Oprah backed it, maybe she'll back this."

    Where would the conflict be in this movie? When the rifle jams?

  • ALM | October 2, 2012 11:08 PMReply

    Isaiah definitely has the acting talent to bring this to life.

  • kirk | October 2, 2012 6:10 PMReply

    Oh goooooooooody! Can't wait for the cheshire house murder movie to come out. All primed to get this crap out but not miles davis huh???!

  • AccidentalVisitor | October 2, 2012 10:26 PM

    That's funny because I was saying to myself that Hollywood is far more interested in standard biopics of black musicians and singers than they are in doing a movie about more complicated people like this sniper duo. And here you are wanting another music biopic. :) Personally I don't mind having films focused on black people who do horrible things. As long as the story is well told, as long as it does not go out of its way to make black people in general look like devils, and as long in most instances the victims themselves in these films are also black (its not as if we get a lot of films of bad white people torturing non-white people after all) then I'm all for it. I actually think what holds Hollywood back however from doing a film about Muhammad and Malvo is a two-fold dilemma: First of all they would be stuck with having to make black characters truly three dimensional, fully rounded, unpredictable and non-stereotypical to keep audiences engaged enough that they won't be repulsed by having to spend so much time watching "protagonists" who go around killing innocent people. And, two, they have to worry about being perceived as racist as a result of their decision to consciously put on film black characters with such huge negative and disgusting traits (as compared to doing it subconsciously as they do with other black characters in other films).

  • AccidentalVisitor | October 2, 2012 6:05 PMReply

    If you are going to do a film about this issue it should be placed in sure hands (writer, director, actors). I am not sure that is the case for this movie. The fact this film has been in the can it seems forever (still needs funds to finish production) and that there is barely any anticipation over it does not make me feel better about its prospects. That is sad too because despite its dark and disturbing subject matter it is the type of movie that movie execs love to bring to the big screen in hopes of movie awards. But let's be real. The main players are black and that makes the cynic in me come to the conclusion that white folks in the industry aren't as interested as they would be if the main players were white.

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