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Trailer – Film Based On Ralph Ellison’s 1994 Short Story, ‘King Of The Bingo Game’

Trailer - Film Based On Ralph Ellison's 1994 Short Story, 'King Of The Bingo Game'

I want to thank filmmaker Ken Wyatt, the director of Colored Confederates: Myth or Matter of Fact (which we profiled HERE back in June) who told me a few days about the trailer for this 30 minute short film, King of the Bingo Game.

I’ve never seen the film before, let alone even heard of it, which is based on a 1944 short story written by the great African American writer Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man), and centers around a poor family man in Harlem who regularly goes to a bingo parlor in the hopes of winning a fortune to provide for his family.

The short was produced and directed by Elise Robertson, and stars Colman Domingo, currently one of the New York stage’s most acclaimed actors, and interestingly, in a small role as a “film noir female,” Anika Noni Rose, in what must have been her first film role.

The film was broadcast in 1999 on PBS’ American Storytellers series, and was later released on VHS, but hasn’t really been seen since then. To my knowledge, it was never shown on PBS again, nor has it been broadcast on cable TV or released on DVD.

Just looking at the trailer, it looks pretty interesting, and anything involving Ellison is always worth a look. If there’s anyone out there who’s seen it, tell us your opinions about it.

Here’s the trailer:

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Altha Cravey

I’ve used this short film in my undergraduate course — we spend a few weeks on the Great Migration FROM the South and a few weeks on contemporary Latinization of the South. It definitely captures students’ attention and gets them talking.

Elise Robertson

It's been a few years since I made the film, but it's a piece I've always been proud of…. Colman Domingo gives an incredible performance as Sonny, the protagonist. PBS took it off their DVD roster a few years ago. I, for one, would love for it to go back into distribution…



I remember seeing this on PBS! This is an excellent short film! When I saw Ralph Ellison’s name, I immediately stopped to watch. I've read "Invisible Man" twice and loved it. My favorite part in the short film is when the character realizes how much power he has in his hand with that little button that stops the wheel. He’s life has been out of control up until that point and now he is finally in control; he has the power. But for how long? This short film is a must see.

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