It was the opening night film for last year’s American Black Film Festival – Robert Townsend’s In The Hive, which he produced and directed.
It stars Michael Clarke Duncan, (in what is one of his last film appearances), Loretta Devine, Vivica A Fox and newcomer Jonathan “Lil J” McDaniel, who plays the film’s central character, which is based on the true story of a woman who started an alternative school for troubled youth in North Carolina.
Here’s a longer synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Xtra Keys lives by a few simple rules, all rooted in a world of brazen, retaliatory violence. His very survival depends on his ability to be brick-hard, emotionless and impenetrable with everyone. Only his infant son is excluded from the hard-shell persona. Xtra hopes to raise his son better than his boozy, razor-edged mother raised him and his younger siblings. Xtra just might get his wish when he’s thrust into the world of the HIVE, an unorthodox alternative school full of other discarded boys – boys who, because of their disciplinary issues and substandard grade levels, have been kicked out or abandoned by every school in this Southern rural county. For these black boys, the HIVE may very well be their last chance before jail but first they have to persevere under the HIVES director, the indomitably audacious Ms. Inez and her friendly giant of an assistant, Mr. Hollis, both of whom rule the HIVE with love, discipline, soul food and the expectation of excellence, none of which Xtra is in any way prepared for.
The story is said to be based on a real-life school in North Carolina.
Xtra is played by McDaniel; Vivica Fox plays his “boozy” mother; Loretta Devine is Ms Inez, and Michael Clarke Duncan is her “friendly, giant of an assistant”.
Roger Guenveur Smith also co-stars.
I saw the film at ABFF last year, and didn’t care much for it as I said at the time; although I applaud the effort and intent by Mr Townsend. It just wasn’t for me.
But you’ll be able to make up your own minds, when it opens in a limited theatrical release, starting on December 14, as I learned today.
You’re advised to check your local listings.
Watch the trailer below for a glimpse at what to expect: