NEW YORK (AP) — Maurice White, the founder and leader of Earth, Wind & Fire, has died.
White died at home in Los Angeles on Wednesday, said his brother, Verdine White. He was 74.
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David Oyelowo wants to show the world a “different kind of African story.”
For his forthcoming role in “A United Kingdom,” Oyelowo portrays former Botswana president, Seretse Khama, whose interracial marriage to Englishwoman, Ruth Williams drew political and international criticism in 1948.
Oyelowo attributed his own interracial marriage as one of the reasons why he decided to pursue the historic biopic, which is currently in post-production.
“There’s no question that my own very happy marriage is part of the inspiration of why I want to see a story like ‘A United Kingdom’ told,” Oyelowo said during a recent interview with U.K. news outlet Metro. “I’m Nigerian — I’m from Africa, my parents are from Nigeria — and I just don’t feel like there are enough stories out of Africa that are transcendent that aren’t about dictators, or degradation, or poverty or to be perfectly frank ‘a white savior’ at the center of the story.”
Last year, during a panel at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the “Selma” star spoke out on the film industry’s lack of creating films which feature black characters as leaders and kings.
“We have been slaves, we have been domestic servants, we have been criminals,” he said. “We have been all of those things, but we’ve been leaders, we’ve been kings, we’ve been those who changed the world. And those films, where that is the case, is so hard to get made.”
Justin Chang –variety.com
“The Birth of a Nation,” writer-director-star Nate Parker’s stirring drama about the life of Nat Turner and the slave rebellion he led in antebellum Virginia, won the grand jury prize and the audience award for American dramatic features at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday night. The film’s double-fisted victory sealed its standing as the sensation of the festival’s 2016 edition, following its record-shattering $17.5 million acquisition earlier in the week by Fox Searchlight.
This is the fourth year in a row that a single film has taken the top two prizes in the U.S. dramatic competition, following “Fruitvale Station” (2013), “Whiplash” (2014) and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” (2015). That general trend aside, many had anticipated precisely this outcome for “The Birth of a Nation,” whose rapturous reception on Monday seemed to chime with a number of issues affecting the culture in general and the film industry in particular. A seven-year labor of love for Parker, “Birth” will enter the marketplace with high hopes and expectations as an acclaimed work by a black filmmaker in an industry under fire for its lack of diversity in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.
Parker nodded to that particular issue when accepting the grand jury prize: “Thank you, Sundance, for creating a platform for us to grow, in spite of what the rest of Hollywood is doing.”
Parker wasn’t the only filmmaker of color to make reference to diversity in his acceptance speech. Accepting his U.S. documentary directing prize for “Life, Animated,” Roger Ross Williams, who became the first African-American director to win a documentary short Oscar six years ago (for “Music by Prudence”), noted, “In this age of #OscarsSoWhite and diversity, I want to thank Sundance for honoring me.”
Just as diversity took the stage at the Screen Actors Guild in Hollywood earlier that evening (with wins for Idris Elba, Viola Davis and Queen Latifah), so this year’s Sundance — and its slate of dramatic competition winners — seemed to stand in especially pointed contrast to the Academy’s recent woes.
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Calling all filmmakers, creators, and appreciators of quality filmmaking! On February 1, 2016, you will have the opportunity to support fellow filmmakers making strides in the industry when the finalists from the 18th annual American Black Film Festival HBO Short Films Competition premiere on HBO.
Check out the finalists below:
Directed by Pete Chatmon; Written by Tony Patrick; Starring Dorian Missick, Simone Missick, Hisham Tawfiq, Stephen Hill, Erika Myers, Malikha Mallette, Valence Thomas, April Matthis, Michael Markham, Vladimir Versailles, and Nasser Metcalfe
An African American couple finds out how far boundaries can be pushed in a culture requiring an ID card and “commitment to the code.”
Click here for more information on Black Card.
First Date, Last Date
Directed by Derege Harding; Written by E.V. Anderson; Starring Andrea Bordeaux, Robert Nellis, Mig Feliciano, Molly Cottrell, Matt Sanderson, Daniel Brunnemer Hall
Soulmates Sara and Michael carry on their first date as the world comes to an end.
Click here for more information on First Date, Last Date.
Directed by Solomon Onita Jr.; Written by Chris Bailey; Starring Dusan Brown, Shawn Kenneth
A young boy commits an accidental murder causing a stir in the community and forcing him to choose between gang loyalty or saving what’s left of his innocence.
Click here for more information on Joy.
Directed by Solvan Naim; Written by Solvan Naim; Starring Malik Lockett, Johnnie Mae, Rob Morgan, Nedra McClyde, Simeon Buresch
A teenage, inner-city kid from Brooklyn gets caught in a web of violence as a paid assassin.
Click here for more information on Stanhope.
ABFF is dedicated to bringing awareness to content created by and about people of African descent. If you’re interested in the possibility of having your short film included in this category next year, visit abff.com for film submission details and criteria. Submissions for 2016 finalists open this month. Now is your time.
For additional information on the American Black Film Festival, to purchase festival pass packages, or to book your hotel for this year’s festival, June 15-19, in Miami Beach, Florida, visit www.abff.com.
For festival updates be sure to follow @blackenterprise and @abff or search #ABFF20. See you in June!
by Steve Reed, Associated Press –theGrio.com
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has suggested for the first time that race may play a factor in why he’s become such a lightning rod for public criticism.
The league MVP candidate said Wednesday, “I’m an African-American quarterback that scares people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to.”
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AP via Huff Post Black Voices
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Fox Searchlight Pictures won a bidding war at the Sundance Film Festival for “The Birth of a Nation,” paying a record-setting $17.5 million for the film’s worldwide distribution rights.
The studio announced the deal Tuesday after the film premiered to a standing ovation a day earlier.
It tells the true story of Nat Turner, a slave who taught himself to read and became a preacher before ultimately leading a deadly rebellion that wiped out 60 slave owners.
Fox Searchlight did not disclose the amount of its winning bid, reported to be $17.5 million. Past high-priced titles such as 2013’s “The Way, Way Back” and 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine” topped out in the $10-12 million range.
Writer, director, producer and star Nate Parker spent seven years making the film he described as a passion project he hopes will serve as a “healing mechanism for America.”
Fox Searchlight says it will release “The Birth of a Nation” later this year.
Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen has spoken out, for the second time, about the Academy Awards’ diversity controversy.
In an interview with The Guardian, the “12 Years a Slave” director said, “This is exactly like MTV was in the 1980s,” adding, “Could you imagine now if MTV only showed music videos by a majority of white people, then after 11 o’clock, it showed a majority of black people? Could you imagine that happening now? It’s the same situation happening in the movies.”
The director then made reference to a 1983 David Bowie clip that spread around the web following the music icon’s death in which he questions the music network’s underrepresentation of black artists.
“Hopefully, when people look back at this in 20 years, it’ll be like seeing that David Bowie clip in 1983,” he said. “I don’t even want to wait 20 years.”
McQueen continued, expressing hope that “in 12 months or so, we can look back and say this was a watershed moment, and thank God we put that right.”
The director also discussed the #OscarsSoWhite issue last week in an interview with the BBC.
After pointing out that a lack of audience interest wasn’t the problem, McQueen said, “It’s about executives. Giving those storylines and those actors a fair bite.”
The “Shame” director joins the ever-growing list of stars who’ve spoken openly about Hollywood and diversity, especially in regards to the Oscars.
David Oyelowo, who appeared in last year’s “Selma” and was notably snubbed for a nomination for his role as Martin Luther King Jr., addressed the issue by saying, “The Academy has a problem. It’s a problem that needs to be solved. For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of color, actresses of color, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable.”
The controversy began following this year’s Oscar nominations announcement; not a single actor of color is up for an award this year.
In the wake of all the backlash, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs issued an official statement expressing how “heartbroken and frustrated” she felt about the lack of inclusion.
Since then, the Academy has pledged to change its membership composition and diversify its leadership beyond the board of governors.
On Saturday, Academy Awards producer Reginald Hudlin sat down with Entertainment Tonight‘s Nischelle Turner to say that Chris Rock would not be dropping out of the Oscars because of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, but the comedian was rewriting his monologue to address the issue.
Hudlin explained that, even though Rock finished writing his monologue a week ago, the controversy surrounding the all-white nominations in the major acting categories prompted Rock to scrap what he had and start over.
“Chris is hard at work. He and his writing staff locked themselves in a room,” Hudlin told ET. “As things got a little provocative and exciting, he said, ‘I’m throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show.’”
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Emmy Award-winner Viola Davis has some ideas for how to improve diversity at the Oscars.
In a red carpet interview before ELLE’s annual Women in Television Dinner on Wednesday, Davis told ET that the problem “is not with the Oscars,” but with “the Hollywood movie-making system.”
“How many black films are being produced every year? How are they being distributed,” she said to ET correspondent Nischelle Turner on the questions Academy voting members should ask themselves in order to fix the issue. “The films that are being made, are the big-time producers thinking outside of the box in terms of how to cast the role? Can you cast a black woman in that role? Can you cast a black man in that role?”
On Tuesday, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs released an official statement on behalf of the Academy via Twitter regarding the Oscars’ lack of diversity. The statement promised plans to take “dramatic steps” to alter the makeup of its membership in order to “bring about much-needed diversity” to future shows.
Next week, the organization’s 51-member Governing Board will also address a number of proposals during its regularly scheduled meeting — including the membership process and recruitment.
Despite the Academy’s swift reaction, the roots of the issue, as Davis told ET, go deep. “You can change the Academy, but if there are no black films being produced, what is there to vote for?”
The 88th annual Academy Awards, hosted by Chris Rock, will air live on ABC on February 28. Read more of Viola Davis’ reaction to this year’s Oscar nominations here.
Nationwide — Although Cheryl Boone Issacs, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), is African American, the lack of diversity continues when it comes to Oscar nominations. Not only were no African American actors nominated this year, but there were also no Asian, Latino, or Native American nominees.
Some celebrities, like Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett, have boycotted the awards show saying that the academy is racist despite having a Black president. Others, however, insist that not enough minority actors are being given leading roles in big films.
Here are 5 Black actors and actresses that we think should have been nominated:
#1 – Michael B. Jordan for his performance in Creed: Jordan stars in this film as Adonis Johnson Creed, Apollo’s son, with Sylvester Stallone reprising the role of Rocky Balboa. It is the seventh Rocky film, both a spin-off from the original series and a sequel to 2006’s Rocky Balboa.
#2 – Sanaa Lathan for her performance in The Perfect Guy: Lathan stars as Leah Vaughn, a successful lobbyist who, after a painful breakup, jumps into a passionate relationship with a charming stranger (Michael Ealy). When her ex-boyfriend (Morris Chestnut) resurfaces in her life she has to figure out who she should trust and who she should fear.
#3 – Idris Elba for his performance in Beasts of No Nation: Elba stars as Commandant in this film about a young Ugandan boy named Agu (Abraham Attah) who is torn away from his family as his country goes through a horrific war. Agu is later recruited by Commandant, who takes a liking to Agu and trains him to be a child soldier.
#4 – Will Smith for his performance in Concussion: Smith stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian forensic pathologist who is fighting against efforts by the NFL to suppress his research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) brain damage suffered by professional football players. The film also stars Alec Baldwin as Dr. Julian Bailes.
#5 – O’Shea Jackson, Jr for his performance in Straight Outta Compton: Jackson portrayed his father, Ice Cube in this biopic which chronicles the rise and fall of the 1990’s rap group NWA. It also stars Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, Keith Stanfield as Snoop Dogg, and R. Marcos Taylor as Suge Knight.