DEADLINE – The Los Angeles Film Festival is on the move from June to this month, where it opens on Thursday with the world premiere of the music documentary Echo in the Canyon. Over the course of the next week, the festival will be offering an array of cinematic programming of all kinds including several more world premiere features.
One of those is the locally based Brian Banks, which marks a return to narrative filmmaking by director Tom Shadyac, whose most recent work was the spiritual documentary I Am in 2010 , and whose most recent commercial film was 2007’s Evan Almighty. A powerful and inspiring film, Brian Banks is a decided departure for the man whose filmography includes Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty, Dragonfly and Eddie Murphy’s The Nutty Professor. Independently made, Brian Banks stars Aldis Hodge in the title role alog with Greg Kinnear, Sherri Shepherd, Melanie Liburd, Xosha Roquemore and Tiffany Dupont. It is produced by Shivani Rawat, Monica Levinson and Amy Baer.
The very timely and true story revolves around Brian Banks, an All-American football player already committed to USC when he is falsely accused of rape during his junior year of high school. Despite maintaining his innocence, he is railroaded through the system and sentenced to a decade of prison, parole, and registering as a sex offender. Driven by the same thoughtfulness and focus that propelled him as an athlete, Banks continues to fight to clear his name, ultimately partnering with the California Innocence Project.
Written by Doug Atchison, the movie premieres Saturday at LAFF and is one of the festival’s top distribution prospects.
EBONY – Molding and defining the African-American image on screen has been a complex task; particularly in the ever-changing entertainment space. In the midst of unimaginable racial injustice and unequal treatment, Sir Sidney Poitier demanded excellence not just from himself but from an industry that had historically cast Black and brown faces aside. With a career stretching over 70 years, Sir Poitier’s character, grace and profound integrity have helped mold the Black movie star, setting the blueprint for all of the men and women that would grace the screens and stages after him.
It was not simply Sir Poitier’s iconic roles in Porgy and Bess and The Defiant Ones that would thrust him into the spotlight. His commanding presence made him one of the biggest box-office draws in the 1960s with a plethora of films including, A Raisin in the Sun, Paris Blues, To Sir, with Love, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and In the Heat of the Night. Before Sir Poitier, the leading Black male was something of a myth. There certainly weren’t any Black male sex symbols before the Academy Award winner stepped on the scene, taking only roles that garnered a sense of dignity and class.
In celebration of Sir Poitier’s extensive career and legacy, Lexus and ICON MANN™ have teamed up to #SaluteALegend. The legendary Louis Gossett Jr., prolific filmmaker John Singleton and critically acclaimed actors, Aldis Hodge and Terrence Howard among others have joined the campaign in celebration of Sir Poitier’s 90th year. “We owe everything that we’re doing now, and will do, to the career that he has had,” Singleton said of the foundation Poitier has laid.
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