When he's not busy with his nationally-syndicated radio show, Russ Parr Morning Show, which reaches millions of listeners nationwide, Russ Parr is also a writer/director – a filmmaker with passion for the craft to spare.
This Sunday, the 17th of February at 9:45pm, his latest work, the controversial drama The Undershepherd, will make its New York Premiere at the 3rd annual New Voices In Black Cinema Festival in Brooklyn, NY, presented by BAMcinématek and ActNow Foundation, which runs from February 15 – 18, at BAM Rose Cinemas.
By the way, Russ will be there himself for the screening, which will be followed by a Q&A moderated by yours truly
The film is among 10 New York premieres that'll screen at the festival.
I call it controversial because, having seen it myself (twice) and talked to Russ about it (I had an in-depth interview with him last night, which I'll post in the next week or so), it's been simulateously embraced and lauded by audiences at every festival it's screened, while rejected by some, but not all, black pastors who feel that the material Russ tackles in The Undershepherd, hits a little too close to home for them.
As the saying goes, the truth hurts!
It's one of 3 films I saw last year that center heavily on what we broadly label "The Black Church," although, unlike Ya'Ke Smith's acclaimed drama Wolf, and Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer, The Under Shepherd has absolutely nothing to do with child molestation by pastors, or the effects of that. Although I could maybe say that it addresses a "molestation" of another kind.
Its synopsis reads:
When the head preacher of his church plans his retirement, mild-mannered LC (Isaiah Washington) is seduced by his access to the power and money earned through his ministry, and slowly transforms into a ruthless business man.
A simple, one-sentence description that is packed with plenty of potential for something explosive. And based on the reactions some of have had to it, I'd say it the film does its job.
Lead by a captivating performance by Isaiah Washington, who rarely disappoints, the film is more of a character study of the man he plays, and is completely unlike the expected comedy that Russ may be more known for, so it caught me by surprise when I first saw it, and I can say that it's his strongest, and most ambitious work to date, and one that I encourage you to see, if you're available on Sunday night.
Yes, it's a late start, but, keep in mind that Monday is a holiday for most folks, so you won't have to worry about not getting enough sleep, and having to rush into work or school the next morning. So come on out!
At the very least, it'll surely inspire lots of conversation after more and more of you see it.
Joining Isaiah Washington in the ensemble cast are Lamman Rucker, Louis Gossett Jr., Bill Cobbs, Keith David, Malinda Williams, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Robinne Lee, Clifton Powell, Elise Neal, and others.
The film is produced by Melee Entertainment, Swirl Films, and UpToParr Productions LLC.
Again, it screens starting at 9:45pm, this Sunday, the 17th of February, at BAM Rose Cinemas. Russ will be there in person, and I'll be moderating a Q&A afterward.
Tickets are on sale now, so you can pre-purchase HERE.
Also, expect my in-depth interview with Parr to be posted in about a week or so.
Watch a teaser of the film below; and underneath you'll find a full poster: