The 2013 Urbanworld Film Festival (its 17th edition), presented by BET Networks, kicks off this year's celebration of global cinema tomorrow night, with its Opening Night Film screening at the SVA Theater in Chelsea (NYC) of David E. Talbert's Baggage Claim.
Fox Searchlight moved the film's release date up by a month to September 27, 2013, in what will be one of the most crowded fall seasons in black cinema history, given the number of black films scheduled to open between August and December this year. Some actually had to be moved to early next year to avoid the competition.
So attendees of this year's UFF will get to see the film about a week early - assuming you already have tickets.
The ensemble cast includes Paula Patton, Taye Diggs, Derek Luke, Trey Songz, Jill Scott, J Cole, Djimon Hounsou, Adam Brody, Boris Kodjoe, Tia Mowry, Lala Anthony and others.
Based on Talbert's best-selling debut novel about a flight attendant with thirty days and thirty thousand miles to find a husband, the synopsis for Baggage Claim reads:
Pledging to keep herself from being the oldest and the only woman in her entire family never to wed, Montana embarks on a thirty-day, thirty-thousand-mile expedition to charm a potential suitor into becoming her fiancé. Whom will she choose? Damon Diesel, a P. Diddy wannabe; Reverend Curtis P. Merewether, pastor of Greater House of Deliverance, Tabernacle of Praise, Worship, and Miracles; pompous attorney-turned-councilman Langston Jefferson Battle III; or Quinton Jamison, a multimillionaire who's twenty years her senior?
Patton leads the ensemble cast, starring as our husband-seeking flight attendant.
In addition, Gun Hill, part of BET Network's line-up of new original movies, will be presented at the festival.
Directed by Reggie "Rock" Bythewood (Biker Boyz), Gun Hill stars Larenz Tate portraying twin brothers, Trane and Bird, on opposite sides of the law.
The film also stars Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michael Aronov, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney (How Stella Got Her Groove Night, Haitian Nights), Tawny Cypress (Heroes, Rescue Me) and Aisha Hinds (True Blood, Hawthorne).
Here's the full synopsis:
For the adults who go to the movies mostly on premiere weekends, this original film with beloved leading man Larenz Tate is sure to satisfy their fresh tastes. From the executive producers of New York Undercover, this high-powered cop drama is about identical twins on opposite sides of life: Trane, a cop, and Bird, a con. On one fateful night, Trane is killed. Bird assumes his identity and begins his own search for redemption. Set in the mean streets of New York, this smart, gritty two-hour movie event features an ensemble cast of characters operating on all sides of the law, where no one is quite what they seem.
Additional highlights of Urbanworld 2013 include:
- A Season 4 episode of the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire (with Michael Kenneth Williams and newbie to the series Jeffrey Wright). We're giving away a pair of tickets to that screening. Click HERE to find out how to enter.
- The black western They Die by Dawn, conceived and directed by Jeymes Samuel of The Bullitts (a collaborative group of artists - both music and film - headed by Samuel). The all-star cast includes some fan favorites: Jesse Williams, Michael K. Williams, Isaiah Washington, Bokeem Woodbine, Clifton Powell, Rosario Dawson, Giancarlo Esposito, Erykah Badu, and others.
- Urbanworld is also announcing the launch of Urbanworld Underground, a platform designed to highlight maverick content creators who are transcending conventional filmmaking with innovative storytelling. In addition to They Die by Dawn, Urbanworld Underground will feature Kahlil Joseph's What Matters Most Shorts Block, which includes Black Up, Until the Quiet Comes, The Model (Parts 1 & 2), and Wildcat.
BET returns for a sixth year as presenting sponsor along with founding sponsor HBO, who will host the Urbanworld Digital program again this year, with sessions presented by HBO, Interactive One, and MoviePass.
"Urbanworld Film Festival celebrates established multi-cultural screenwriters, producers and directors and aims to empower hopefuls by bringing new and diverse films to our community," said Loretha Jones, President of Original Programming at BET. "BET believes Urbanworld Film Festival is an undeniable platform for emerging filmmakers, and because we pride ourselves on having our finger on the pulse of what's important to our audience, this makes our partnership even more exciting."
"Our 2013 slate indicates what I've known all year: that this is an exciting time for multicultural films," said Gabrielle Glore, executive producer and head of programming for Urbanworld. "We are always honored to be able to connect audiences with the artistic excellence of the filmmakers who have participated in Urbanworld for 17 years. And the continued support of our partners BET and HBO make it possible for us to keep shining a light on the diversity of stories that the world needs to see."
The 17th annual Urbanworld Film Festival will take place September 18-22, 2013 at midtown Manhattan's AMC 34th Street, and will screen 60 films, including 4 world premieres and 2 U.S. premieres.
Jasmin and I will be there of course!