3 Months Left In 2011, What's Left To Look Forward To This Year In Black Cinema?

by Tambay A. Obenson
September 23, 2011 5:28 AM
8 Comments
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With the summer movie season officially over, I thought I'd take a quick look at what's left in the "black cinema" department expected to debut in the next 4 1/2 months.

Specifically, films by and/or about people of African decent, scheduled to be released this year, that have yet to screen publicly (whether at festivals or commercial theatrical release)! So even though a film like Pariah is scheduled to be in theaters this fall, I wouldn't consider it in this particular case because it's already screened at 3 or 4 festivals/screening series this year, including Sundance, and, most recently at TIFF.

Here's what I've got thus far... feel free to add any that should be on the list:

- Julius Onah's feature debut titled, The Girl Is In Trouble, being executive produced by Spike Lee, starring Columbus Short (production photo above). In the film, described as a noir thriller set in New York City, a bartender (likely played by Short) "unravels a mystery that connects a desperate young woman (played by Alicja Bachleda) to a missing drug dealer, and the scion of New York's most powerful stockbroker." I was almost certain this would make its world debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, since it hasn't screened anywhere else so far this year. But it didn't. I reached out to Julius a little bit ago and he said the film is still being sorted out, but couldn't tell me more. It's already shot, and they've been in post-production for some time. As I fully expect it to make its debut at a film festival, as opposed to an immediate theatrical release, what major festival that attracts distribution companies is left after Toronto this year? None really. So, I'm going to guess that a Sundance 2012 birth for the film is likely. But when Julius reveals news, we'll know.

- Tina Gordon Chism's We the Peeples, which Tyler Perry is producing. Also her feature film debut. Chism's previous credits include penning the screenplays for Drumline and ATL. The story centers on a child psychologist’s hellish weekend, which begins when he surprises his girlfriend, by showing up to meet her political family parents, during their annual end of summer celebration in Sag Harbor, only to find that they are all in desperate need of therapy. Kerry Washington (playing the girlfriend), and Craig Robinson (the child psychologist) star in the film. Joining them are David Alan Grier, Kali Hawk, Diahann Carroll, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Melvin Van Peebles. Principal photography ended months ago, and the film has been in post-production for some time, so I expect that we'll be seeing a trailer for it any day now. Its release date is scheduled for 2012, though we don't know what month. We haven't even seen any still images yet. I'm actually really curious about this one for a number of reasons: first it's from a first-time director; second, it's Tyler Perry's first hand at producing someone else's feature work (no Precious doesn't count; he came to that project after the film was already complete; with this one, he shepherded it from the beginning); and third, the complete cast will get my attention any day of the week.

- Halle Berry's Dark Tide. I think we all know about this one, so I won't bother with any backstory. We've all seen the *unauthorized" trailer which surfaced 1 or 2 months ago, as well as some still images. But I don't believe this has screened publicly anywhere yet. The sales team may have taken it to the Cannes market, hoping to seal some distribution deals in different territories, but I really haven't heard much, though it's supposed to be in theaters this year.

- Carl Franklin's adaptation of Rudolfo Anaya's award-winning novel Bless Me, Ultima, which chronicles the turbulent coming-of-age story of Antonio, a young boy growing up in New Mexico during World War II, and his relationship with Ultima, an elderly medicine woman. I initially pegged this film as a potential Cannes 2011 selection, whether in or out of competition, but that didn't happen; and when last I heard about it, in March, the film's producers said it'll be done by the summer. Is it? I haven't received any confirmation on that yet. I know principal photography has long been done, and the film was in post-production as of March/April when I last checked, so it should be getting close to being publicly unveiled. It'll be good to see something from Carl Franklin again, who has been directing mostly TV projects in the last several years; his last big screen work was in 2003 - Out Of Time with Denzel Washington. 8 long years. I expect we'll see a trailer for Bless me, Ultima soon enough, and likely a film festival birth as well. Which one? Sundance 2012?

- RZA's feature directorial debut, The Man With The Iron Fist. Eli Roth, who describes the film as "a kung fu Star Wars movie, and Quentin Tarantino are both producers. In addition to Rza, Russell Crowe, Pam Grier, and Lucy Liu co-star. Principal photography ended earlier this year, but we haven't seen anything of it; no stills, no clips, no nothing. So, as of right now, I don't think anyone knows what this baby is going to look, sound and feel like. Even plot revelations have been slim, other than the official synopsis. Last post on this about 2 weeks ago revealed that the film is currently in post-production. I thought it might make its debut at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, but that didn't happen. So, when it might make its debut is anyone's guess; whether it'll head straight to theaters, or first run the festival circuit, even briefly, and then open in theaters. IMDB still lists its release date as 2011, and that might very well still happen. Though an early 2012 release may be more likely. But I'm looking forward to seeing how this turned out for RZA and company.

And lastly, the pairing of Chris Rock and Julie Delpy in 2 Days In New York, a sequel to Delpy’s 2007 indie flick, 2 Days In Paris, which she not only directed, but starred in, alongside Adam Goldbergh, as a young couple attempting to rekindle their relationship with a visit to Paris, where her parents live... and, by the way, several of her ex-boyfriends, who they run into frequently. Of course, some hijinx and hilarity ensue, with some drama as well. In this sequel, which Delpy said when we first wrote about the film last year, that she intends to complete it in time for Cannes 2011 (didn't happen), the dramedy comes to Manhattan, and she reprises her role as Marion, a French woman, living in the city, with her child and new boyfriend, an actor, played by Chris Rock. Expect more family, ex-boyfriend, current boyfriend drama and gaiety, with some racial/cultural tango. Last November, we shared a few on-set shots from the film, of a bespectacled, goateed Chris Rock, in character, looking like Malcolm X. Little to nothing has surfaced about this project since that initial announcement, so I have absolutely no idea what stage it's currently in. I assume it's been shot, and might be in post-production. Or maybe it's done and she's trying to figure out what to do with it next. I don't know... Chris Rock hasn't really talked about it. But it's a flick I'm curious about even though it's not all about black people.

And that's about all I have. Like I said, if you think of any that fit the criteria (films by and/or about people of African decent, scheduled to be released this year, that have not screened publicly - whether at festivals or commercial theatrical release) and should be on this list, say so in the comment section and I'll add them.

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8 Comments

  • Adam Rubin | September 24, 2011 7:18 AMReply

    Come check out Kelly Perine's performance in the new short "A Perfect Day". Strong!!! Will be playing at the Downtown Independent theater. www.downtownindependent.com. Www.aperfectdaymovie.com.

  • Neziah | September 24, 2011 1:27 AMReply

    Don't forget "Violet and Daisy".

    I'd like to see all the films mentioned except "Dark Tide".

  • lalahere | September 23, 2011 10:40 AMReply

    Yelling to the Sky will be in theaters Spring, 2012. An exact date hasn't been announced yet, but I'd have to guess it's March or April latest.

  • Emmanuel | September 23, 2011 7:20 AMReply

    Put me down for "The Girls Is In Trouble" and "We The Peeples".

    Question-- Why does Hollywood still look at Halle Berry as a bankable star? How many Rotten Tomatoes does one need to have on one's resume before one's phone stops ringing? And don't tell me it's because of the Oscar. Because if that was the case, Cuba Gooding should be in theaters across America right now.

  • David | September 23, 2011 7:07 AMReply

    @Tony --- Yelling to the Sky just screened at Urbanworld, although not sure if it has a distribution deal, yet?

    Don't forget Restless City, which will get a limited run in NYC in late Oct.

  • Tony | September 23, 2011 6:15 AMReply

    Pariah, Black Power Mistake & Shame
    aside from that all else doesn't look good and in the span of black cinema. Maybe next year there will be something. This year is most likely a wash.
    YELLING TO THE SKY? WTH, a release date or something...

  • Neziah | August 12, 2011 2:39 AMReply

    I'd like to see pretty much all of these. These filmmakers need support.

  • Mecca | August 11, 2011 10:34 AMReply

    Dark Tide *yawn*

    "The Girl is in Trouble" is something I would go out and see, I am surprised it was not at TIFF. *weeps* :(

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