I tried to avoid this movie like the plagued. Seriously, I was in no mood for black pathos, a la Precious. However, this film was not what I expected. I am so happy that I woke my lazy ass up on the last day of the American Black Film Festival to check this flick out. Here is how ABFF sold it in it's program guide: Written and directed by Stephen Lloyd Jackson, this film tells the tale of a young successful hedge fund manager has just been told that he is HIV positive. Through an intense therapy session, David takes us on a dark, pernicious journey that displays the ugly side of love.
To cut to the chase: David is Dying of HIV and he is also crazy as all hell. Plagued by a trouble youth with a Black French prostitute mother, David is trying his best to move forward with Carla ( Isaura Barbé-Brown), the love of his life and soon-to-be mother of his unborn child, while working through some serious sociopathic behavior with an equally disturbed psychiatrist. This film is just flat out weird, but in a good way. According to the film's Facebook Fan Page, D.I.D
was partly inspired by the 5th century mythical Greek play, 'Oedipus Rex’ by Sophocles. It is not often that we get to see such stylistic and film noir from black directors and writers.
This change in Black film aesthetic might because this film is from the UK, and quite possibly, Black English filmmakers are more likely to be adventurous and expansive in their narratives. Or I could have just made that shit up. *Kanye Shrug*
But at any rate, the story is a welcome change from the same recycled themes we are used to seeing in Black films. I'm not going to give too much away about this film other than to say that this was clearly my favorite scripted film of the entire festival. Also, if you get a chance to check it out, definitely take notice of the superb acting of up-and-coming Actor
Lonyo Engele, who played David in the film. This past weekend, Engele took home the Best Actor award at the American Black Film Festival Honors. Again, I missed the talkback screening of this film, so I don't know whether or not this film has distribution, let alone a US release. However, you can keep track of the films progress by clicking here.
Also, check out the trailer below.
What can I say about this other than that this is a more personal comedy show for Comedian Kevin Hart. I am definitely rooting for the homeboy because he is from Philly (sue me, I am bias) and he doesn't disappoint in his first major motion picture release (set to come out on September 9th). Sure, we are used to him telling us silly stories about his wife, his son with the imaginary spider web arm, his crazy, just-out-of-prison Uncle and his Jesus-in-a-crisis-loving Muslim best friend. But this flick is about the his younger years - way before he was the little funny guy beefing it out in 40 Year old Virgin. In Laugh At My Pain, we get a rare glimpse of Hart home life. We meet his aunts, who helped to raise him. We learn about his drug addicted father (alright, alright, alright), who once almost accidentally killed him. And we discover why Hart doesn't like to hang with basketballers and other celebs anymore.
Hart, who was present for the screening, said that this film served as therapy, especially in the wake of his mother's death. And he even joked about that too, which only proves that there is no subject too out of bounds for Hart. This film was alot of fun, especially if you get to check it out in theaters full of folk, ready to have a good time. Oh and for my local folks, Laugh at My Pain reps Philly extra hard: from Max Steaks to Broad and Erie to Black and Noble. So for that reason alone, you got to support.
Laugh at My Pain is slated to be released nationwide on September 9th. But you can check out the newly released trailer below.
Now for one of the more depressing flicks of the festival: Black Gold: The Struggle for the Niger Delta.
Here is how the film is sold in the AMFF program guide:
Written and Directed by Jeta Amata and starring Vivica Fox, Billy Zane and Mbong Amata, Black Gold tells the story of one local Niger Delta (Nigeria) community, led by an orphan, struggle against their own government and a multi-national oil corporation, who has plundered their land and destroyed the environment. A powerful story of greed, murder and corruption pitted against human and environmental justice.
Black Gold takes on the ambitious task of telling the often neglected story of the Niger River Delta Region in Nigeria, which has been having an Big Oil spill just about every single day, for decades. The movie centers around the exploits of Western Oil and although that is a real company, there is no indication in the movie or in any of the write-ups I have seen, that would suggest this story is true. However the film does stay very true to the issues at hand for the Niger Delta region and that is: Why haven't the people of the Delta been compensated for their spoiled lands and sea, diseased bodies and untimely deaths. And why is the Nigerian government so damn corrupt?
After two nights of heavy partying, I am taking the night (a Friday night on South Beach no less) off. So my drunken-night-grinding-on-random-dudes-in-a-dank-nightclub loss is your gain. So here is another review: Sole of a Hustla.
First here is how the ABFF sold it in its program guide:
Directed by Adam Woodard and produced by Bob Compton, Sole of a Hustla follows five Black men from the Memphis hood, with a vision to build company and pursue the American Dream. Journey with these entrepreneurs as they discover a very different start-up reality.
So as we all know, this week I am in Miami (on South Beach) for the American Black Film Festival, which is happening now through July 12th. And so far, I am having a good time. Last night, I attended the 15th anniversary party in which Melanie Fiona performed and the night before, I saw Mehki Phifer, Bill Dukes, Tasha from Why Did I Get Married and Robert Townsend at the opening night party. It is like Dancing With the Stars out here but without the dancing part and ball gowns.
Anyway, I wanted to make sure that I get some reviews of the films I've seen because what's the point of going to a film festival if you can't talk about what you've seen - right? But instead of reviewing all the films I've seen, I decided just to highlight my favorites - which is why I won't be talking about Robert Townsends' The Hive. This way, I can cut down on my writing time here (lazy) and not trash anyone...ahem Robert...in the process.
So here is my first favorite ABFF film: Brown Babies: The Mischlingskinder Story
So for the rest of this week, I will be down in Miami on vacation attending the 15th annual American Black Film Festival. So far, my vacation has gotten off to a rocky start. Flight cancellations and delays made my welcome into Miami less than pleasant. And when I finally made it to the festival (because for a minute, I actually thought that I wasn't going to make it), they ran out of program booklets, so I don't know what's playing and where at.
I spoke to my father, right before getting on the airplane (finally) and I chewed his ear off about all the airline issues I was having. He reminded me that this is my vacation and that I should not be worrying about keeping schedules. I'm trying to keep that in mind.
Oh, I did manage to make it to the opening night film screening, which honestly the way my trip was going, I didn't think I would. I saw The Hive, which was written and directed by Robert Townsend. Even cooler: he was sitting right across the aisle from me. How cool is that?
Anyway, I'll have a full rundown of the film tomorrow (here's a sneak peak: it's like Precious but with boys) but right now, I am in desperate need of an attitude adjustment. I am in Miami. I am on vacation. So why not play in this Miami nightlife?