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Watch the Final Trailer for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

AnnaPurna Films has released the final trailer for Barry Jenkins film version of James Baldwin‘s classic story If Beale Street Could Talk. It opens in theaters nationwide this Friday, November 30.

Set in early-1970s Harlem, If Beale Street Could Talk is a timeless and moving love story of both a couple’s unbreakable bond and the African-American family’s empowering embrace, as told through the eyes of 19-year-old Tish Rivers (KiKi Layne). A daughter and wife-to-be, Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny (Stephan James). Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit.

Through the unique intimacy and power of cinema, If Beale Street Could Talk honors the author’s prescient words and imagery, charting the emotional currents navigated in an unforgiving and racially biased world as the filmmaker poetically crosses time frames to show how love and humanity endure.

The film also features Regina King, Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Brian Tyree HenryAunjanue L. Ellis, Michael BeachEd SkreinDiego Luna, Dave Franco and Pedro Pascal.

Oscar winner Barry Jenkins serves as the project’s director.

Watch below and tell us what you think…

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Watch Official Trailer for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Annapurna Pictures has released the official trailer and poster for the upcoming film adaptation of James Baldwin‘s classic If Beale Street Could Talk.

Set in early-1970s Harlem, If Beale Street Could Talk is a timeless and moving love story of both a couple’s unbreakable bond and the African-American family’s empowering embrace, as told through the eyes of 19-year-old Tish Rivers (screen newcomer KiKi Layne). A daughter and wife-to-be, Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny (Stephan James). Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit.

Through the unique intimacy and power of cinema, If Beale Street Could Talk honors the author’s prescient words and imagery, charting the emotional currents navigated in an unforgiving and racially biased world as the filmmaker poetically crosses time frames to show how love and humanity endure.

The film also features Regina King, Colman Domingo, Teyonah Parris, Brian Tyree Henry, Aunjanue L. Ellis, Michael BeachEd Skrein, Diego Luna, Dave Franco, and Pedro Pascal.

Oscar winner Barry Jenkins serves as the project’s director.

Click here to listen at my UPFRONT interview with Colman Domingo when he talked about his role in the film.

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Watch Teaser Trailer for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

In honor of James Baldwin‘s birthday, Oscar winning director Barry Jenkins and AnnaPurna Pictures have released a new teaser trailer for the film adaptation of his classic book, If Beale Street Could Talk. It premieres in theaters on November 30, 2018.

If Beale Street Could Talk follows Fonny and Tish, a young couple who are in the midst of a whirlwind romance until Fonny is falsely accused of rape. After his imprisonment, Tish finds out she is pregnant and she, her family, and her lawyer race against the clock to find evidence that frees Fonny before the baby is born.

The film features the amazing talents of Stephan James, Teyonah Parris, KiKi Layne, Regina King, Brian Tyree Henry, Aunjanue Ellis, Emily Rios and Colman Domingo.

I recently talked to Domingo during my UPFRONT show where he discussed his role in the film and why Baldwin is one of his heroes.

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Colman Dot talks DOT + Donna Summer + James Baldwin with ‘UPFRONT’

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out this past weekend’s edition of UPFRONT Inside Atlanta’s Entertainment Industry. It features my one-on-one interview with stage-screen-television actor Colman Domingo.

The award-winning Broadway star was in town last week promoting his stage production DOT, which is playing now through August 12 at the Southwest Arts Center.  Domingo also opens up about his Broadway show –  Summer: The Donna Summer Musical as well as his role in the film adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk and much more.

Domingo is best known for his roles in SelmaLee Daniels’ The ButlerBirth of a Nation and Fear the Walking Dead.

Photo Credit: RayCornelius.com

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‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ adds ‘Atlanta’ actor Brian Tyree Henry

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins continues to add more star power to his film adaptation of James Baldwin‘s “If Beale Street Could Talk.” According to DEADLINE, “Atlanta” actor Brian Tyree Henry will star alongside previously announced actors Regina King, Colman Domingo, Stephan James and KiKi Layne.

“If Beale Street Could Talk” follows Fonny and Tish, a young couple who are in the midst of a whirlwind romance until Fonny is falsely accused of rape. After his imprisonment, Tish finds out she is pregnant and she, her family, and her lawyer race against the clock to find evidence that frees Fonny before the baby is born.

In addition to starring in the award-winning FX series, “Atlanta,” Henry has also appeared on other popular dramas including ABC’s “How To Get Away with Murder” and NBC’s tear-jerker “This Is Us.” He is also slated to appear in a few new projects for 2018 including “Widows,” “White Boy Rick” and An “Untitled Animated Spider-Man Project.”

Stay tuned…

Photo Credit: RayCornelius.com

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Colman Domingo added to ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

One of my favorite actors to watch—Colman Domingo—is joining Barry Jenkins‘ film adaptation of the James Baldwin literary classic, “If Beale Street Could Talk.”

The NAACP Image Award nominee joins previously announced actors Regina King, Teyonah Parris, Stephan James and KiKi Layne. It is not clear what role Domingo will play in the film.

“If Beale Street Could Talk” follows Fonny and Tish, a young couple who are in the midst of a whirlwind romance until Fonny is falsely accused of rape. After his imprisonment, Tish finds out she is pregnant and she, her family, and her lawyer race against the clock to find evidence that frees Fonny before the baby is born.

Domingo is on my list of “actors who are on the verge of superstardom.” He has appeared in a number of blockbuster films as “Selma,” “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “Lincoln.” He also has appeared on “American Dad,” “Timeless” and currently stars of “The Fear of the Walking Dead.” Domingo is also an accomplished theatre actor and playwright. He is currently developing an original drama series for AMC titled, “In the Middle of the Street.”

RC will keep you posted as this project continues to develop.

Photo Credit: BroadwayBlack.com

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Barry Jenkins directing film version of James Baldwin’s ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Oscar winning director and my Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity brother Barry Jenkins is set to direct a film adaptation of James Baldwin‘s classic story, “If Beale Street Could Talk.” According to VARIETY, Jenkins wrote the screenplay during the summer of 2013 along with “Moonlight” and has been working with Baldwin’s Estate and his sister, Gloria Karefa-Smart.

“James Baldwin is a man of and ahead of his time; his interrogations of the American consciousness have remained relevant to this day,” Jenkins said. “To translate the power of Tish and Fonny’s love to the screen in Baldwin’s image is a dream I’ve long held dear. Working alongside the Baldwin Estate, I’m excited to finally make that dream come true.”

“If Beale Street Could Talk,” follows Tish, a newly engaged Harlem woman who races against the clock to prove her lover’s innocence while carrying their first born child. It is a celebration of love told through the story of a young couple, their families and their lives, trying to bring about justice through love, for love and the promise of the American dream.  Production begins this October!

RC will keep you posted on this as it continues to develop.

Photo Credit: RayCornelius.com + Crossroads Blues

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Janelle Monáe, Common, Chris Rock appear in ‘Know Your Baldwin’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Award winning actress and singer Janelle Monáe has teamed up with MIC.com and some of the biggest names in Hollywood for a powerful new video promoting Magnolia Pictures, “I am Not Your Negro.  The two-minute clip titled, “Know Your Baldwin” features the “Hidden Figures” actress and a host of others—Common, Chris Rock, Lupita Nyong’o, Aldis Hodge, Jidenna— inspiring audiences to get familiar with the works of literary icon, James Baldwin.

The presentation has already been viewed by millions and was released with the expectation of putting Baldwin’s prolific words into the mouths of the next generation.

As the video reports, “these artists and activists are echoing the past to contextualize the present,” and just like the documentary, it does its job to parallel the experiences of our forefathers with the realities of today and the fears of our future.

“Know Your Baldwin” also features the “I Am Not Your Negro” director, Raoul Peck and Samuel L. Jackson, who narrated the Oscar nominated documentary!

“I Am Not Your Negro” is in theaters nationwide!

Check out “Know Your Baldwin” below:

https://youtu.be/jUqsaGlJbgA

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RC attends ATL Screening of James Baldwin’s ‘I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO’ [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

There are times when you see a film and it moves you. And then there are times you see a film and it transforms your mind. That is how I felt on this past Monday night when I attended the Atlanta premiere of Magnolia Pictures, “I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO.” The Oscar nominated documentary is an amalgamation of words, images, video and commentary from one of our foremost thinkers and literary icons—James Baldwin.

The screening took place at Morehouse College and was presented by the school’s Cinema, Television and Emerging Media Studies (CTEMS). The evening was hosted by visual artist and friend of the blog, Fahamu Pecou along with a special intro from “Hidden Figures” star Janelle Monáe. Reportedly the Grammy nominated singer and rising actress shared background information on her label, Wondaland Records, and its special connection to Baldwin and his work. Monáe then recited excerpts from Notes from a Native Son, which set an empowering tone for the event. Unfortunately I got to the screening about 45-minutes after her introduction and wasn’t able to capture her in action.

“I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO” is a documentary film that recounts Baldwin’s personal connections to the lives and deaths of his close friends and pioneers of the civil rights movement—Medgar Evers, Lorraine Hansberry, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is Baldwin in his own words and exactly how he felt when he received the calls or messages that his friends were no longer alive. Baldwin also boldly addresses a myriad of ills facing Black people in America including racial and gender inequality, sexual freedom, White America’s obsession with the “N Word” and Hollywood’s exploitation of African-Americans in film and television.

Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, “I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO” is Baldwin’s way of  putting a mirror up to America and demanding that she take an honest and hard look at herself and address the pertinent issues within her diverse and racially mixed population. Filmmaker Raoul Peck does an outstanding job of showing viewers the parallels between Baldwin’s fight in the 1960s juxtaposed to the issues we’re still facing today in 2017. The film takes on a whole new meaning to the saying “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Following the film was a lively discussion about Baldwin and his cultural relevance featuring Pecou along with civil rights icon, Ambassador Andrew Young; Clark Atlanta University African American Studies Professor, Dr. Daniel Black; Morehouse College Asst. Professor of English, Dr. Francine Allen, and Georgia Equality Field Organizer, Rob Woods. The evening was moderated by CTEMS’ Dr. Stephane Dunn.

Key influencers who were present in the audience included CAU’s President Ronald Johnson and First Lady Johnson, WCLK’s Jamal Ahmad (WCLK 91.9), Rahbi (singer and activist), Victor Jackson (dancer, singer and choreographer), Mike Merrill (actor, “Last Squad Standing”), Leatrice Ellzy (Content Creator and Cultural Curator), Marshawn Evans (Author, NBC’s “The Apprentice”), and Christopher Hicks (Director, Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment). I also spotted HGTV’s Egypt Sherrod and her husband DJ Fadelf.

Check out more photos from the screening and watch the trailer below:

“I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO” opens in theatres nationwide on February 3!

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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‘Moonlight,’ ‘Hidden Figures’ and ‘Fences’ earn Oscar Nods for ‘Best Picture’ & more!

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

The Oscar nominations were announced this morning and “Hidden Figures,” “Moonlight” and “Fences” were all nominated in the Best Picture category. I believe this is the first time we’ve ever had three African-American films nominated at the same time in this category.

Other nominations include Denzel Washington for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Ruth Negga for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Mahershala Ali for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Octavia Spencer, Naomie Harris and Viola Davis for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

“Moonlight” also picked up nods for Cinematography, Directing for Barry Jenkins, Film Editing, Music (Original Score) and Writing (Adapted Screenplay) for Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney. “Fences” also picked up for Writing (Adapted Screenplay) while James Baldwin‘s “I Am Not Your Negro” (which I saw last night) and Ava DuVernay‘s “13th” were nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

I must say that I am shocked that Taraji P. Henson was not nominated for her role in “Hidden Figures” nor was Pharrell Williams nominated for the film’s soundtrack. #SMH

Click here to see the full list of nominees and don’t forget to watch the Oscars when they air live on Sunday, February 26 on ABC! This year’s show is hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

Photo Credit: RayCornelius.com

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Official Trailer Released for James Baldwin’s ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out Magnolia Pictures official trailer for the documentary, “I Am Not Your Negro, written by literary and African-American icon James Baldwin. The project was just recently shortlisted for the Oscars and recently nominated for an NAACP Image Award for “Best Documentary.”

In 1979, Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends-Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.  At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of this manuscript.

Now, in his incendiary new documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and flood of rich archival material. “I Am Not Your Negro” is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond. And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.

Tell us what you think!

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First Look at James Baldwin’s ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out the trailer for Magnolia Pictures new documentary “I Am Not Your Negro.” The film company released it on Friday and along with the first official poster.  “I Am Not Your Negro” is written by the legendary civil rights writer and LGBTQ icon James Baldwin and is directed by Raoul Peck and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.

In 1979, Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, “Remember This House.” The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of this manuscript.

Now, in his incendiary new documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and flood of rich archival material. “I Am Not Your Negro” is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond. And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.

“I Am Not Your Negro” arrives in theaters February 3, 2017!

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Jaleel White and Awkward Black Girl’s Issa Rae to star in Lorraine Hansberry biopic

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Indie Wire is reporting that the grandniece of the late playwright, Lorraine Hansberry is gearing up for a biopic about her famous aunt.

taye-hansberry.jpg2Taye Hansberry (left) is reportedly teaming up with Scandal casting director, Will Stewart and writer Numa Perrier for an unconventional film based on the life of the Harlem author and activist.

Taye  is playing Lorraine along with Awkward Black Girl’s Issa Rae as Hansberry’s friend and legendary jazz diva Nina Simone. TV and film actor, Jaleel White rounds out the cast as author and Hansberry’s closest confidant, James Baldwin.

Hansberry was best known for her play A Raisin in the Sun,  a line taken from Langston Hughes’ poem, A Dream Deferred.  She was also a voice of the Civil Right Movement and penned the play To Be Young, Gifted and Black,  before her death. The show was later used as the title of a song  that would become the movement’s anthem and was performed famously by Simone.

Hansberry left behind an unfinished novel and several other plays, including What Use Are Flowers? and The Drinking Gourd.  She died of pancreatic cancer at age 34.  Production for the biopic is slated to begin in early fall with the project now heading toward pre-production.

RC will keep you posted as this story develops.

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