Reiterating a suggestion I previously made… if you’re a filmmaker/producer/distributor reading this, and your film is streaming on Netflix, please let me know. Netflix unfortunately doesn’t have what I feel should be a more efficient search/sort method, and it can be quite a chore trying to find something worth watching. So, help me out if you can.
The same goes for non-filmmakers. If you stumble across any titles that you think should be featured in this series, let me know!
Without further ado, here is this week’s list of 5:
1 – Andrew Dosunmu’s Mother of George – the visually-stunning (shot by Bradford Young), heartbreaking drama starring Danai Gurira as Adenike, a young woman who weds the charismatic Ayodele (Isaach De Bankolé), the owner of a small Nigerian restaurant in Brooklyn. Their traditional wedding culminates in a ceremony where Adenike is named for her yet-to-be-conceived son, George. But as the months pass without pregnancy, Adenike faces uncomfortable and unfamiliar choices in her desperate struggle to save her marriage.
Yaya Alafia and Tony Okungbowa co-star.
The film’s script was penned by Darci Picoult and produced by Lars Knudsen and Jay Van Hoy of Parts & Labor as well as Matt Parker, Carly Hugo, Chris Maybach, Saemi Kim, along with Picoult and Okungbowa.
Executive producers on the film include Ron Simons of SimonSays Entertainment; Saerom Kim of Maybach Film Productions; Jerry Tankersley, Laura Bernieri & Joseph Sorrentino of Fried Alligator Films and Rhea Scott & Fady Salamé.
By the way, Andrew’s feature before Mother Of George, his enchanting, acclaimed feature film debut, Restless City, also shot by Bradford Young, is also streaming on Netflix.
Restless City tells the story of young, nomadic Senegalese immigrant, Djbirl (played by Sy Alassane), an aspiring musician, struggling to survive on the fringes of New York City. When he falls in love with a prostitute (Jamaican-born model/actress Nicole Grey) who works for Bekay, the local loan shark, he suddenly finds some much needed meaning and purpose to his otherwise aimless existence, forcing him to make decisions that eventually prove fatal. Gurira, who stars in Mother of George, plays a supporting role in Restless City.
Here’s a trailer for Mother of George:
2 – Rodney Evans’ sophomore effort, The Happy Sad, which made its World Premiere at Frameline San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, as a Showcase selection last year, follows two young couples in New York – one black and gay, one white and heterosexual – who find their lives intertwined as they create new relationship norms, explore sexual identity, and redefine monogamy.
The film’s cast includes: LeRoy McClain (The History Boys), Sorel Carradine (The Good Doctor), Charlie Barnett (Gayby, Chicago Fire), Cameron Scoggins (Lovers), Maria Dizzia (Martha Marcy May Marlene, Louie), Sue Jean Kim (Bachelorette), Jamie Harrold (Erin Brockovich, The New Tenants – 2010 Academy Award Winner – Best Live Action short), and Michael Nathanson (Side Effects, Time Freak – 2012 Academy Award Nomination – Best Live Action short).
Evans’ debut feature, Brother To Brother, isn’t streaming on Netflix, but it’s definitely recommended, so look for it on DVD. The drama looks back on the creative energy of cultural revolution during the Harlem Renaissance from the perspective of an elderly black writer who meets a gay teenager in a New York homeless shelter. It starred Anthony Mackie before he became the Anthony Mackie we all know today, and won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance in 2004, as well as received Independent Spirit nominations in four categories in 2005.
Trailer for The Happy Sad below:
3 – Tina Gordon Chism’s Peeples – previously titled We The Peeples, and eventually released as Tyler Perry Presents Peeples – which stars Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier, S. Epatha Merkerson, Melvin Van Peebles, Diahann Carroll, and Kali Hawk.
Produced by Tyler Perry, Stephanie Allain (also director of the Los Angeles Film Festival) and Paul Hall, the film centers
on Robinson’s character, a young man enduring the weekend from hell
when he surprises his girlfriend by showing up to meet her parents.
Wade Walker is eager to propose to his girlfriend, Grace Peeples. But after a year of living together, the beautiful, successful Grace is still cagey about introducing average guy Wade to her ambitious, upper crust family. So when Grace leaves for an annual reunion at her parents’ swanky Sag Harbor compound, Wade decides to crash the gathering, charm his soon-to-be in-laws and slip a ring on Grace’s finger. However Wade’s plans go awry when he meets the high-powered, seemingly picture-perfect family who’ll do whatever it takes to keep up appearances. Wade soon finds himself caught in a web of white lies and comic dysfunction, and realizes that his only hope of ever marrying Grace means a take-no-prisoners face-off with Judge Peeples, Grace’s disapproving dad who won’t accept anything less than the very best for his favorite daughter.
Chism, who both wrote and directed the film, made her feature directorial debut with this movie, which was released by Lionsgate a year ago.
Check out the new trailer below:
4 – The short story goes… When their shantytowns are threatened with mass eviction, three ‘young lions’ of South Africa’s new generation rise from the shacks and take their government to the highest court in the land, putting the promises of democracy to the test.
Dear Mandela follows their journey from their shacks to the highest court as they invoke Nelson Mandela’s example and become leaders in a growing social movement. Inspiring, devastating and even humorous at times, the film offers a new perspective on the role that young people can play in political change and is a fascinating portrait of South Africa coming of age.
Co-directed by award-winning South African filmmaker and editor Dara Kell, and Christopher Nizza, an Emmy Award-winning NYC filmmaker and editor, this was the pair’s feature-length documentary debut.
It won Best South African Documentary at the Durban International Film Festival, the Movies That Matter Golden Butterfly award and most recently won the Grand Chameleon award at the Brooklyn Film Festival. It’s also an African Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary.
Watch the trailer below:
5 – Said to be inspired by true stories, Grand comme le Baobab (Tall as the Baobab Tree) tells the tale of a teenage girl who hatches a plan to rescue her 11-year-old sister from an arranged marriage.
Directed by Jeremy Teicher (his feature film debut), the film is a scripted follow-up to his Student Academy Award-nominated documentary titled This Is Us (which premiered at the American Ambassador’s residence in Dakar, Senegal).
In Baobab, Coumba and her little sister Debo are the first to leave their family’s remote village, Sinthiou Mbadane, in Senegal, to attend school in the city. But when an accident suddenly threatens their family’s survival, their father decides to sell 11-year-old Debo into an arranged marriage. Torn between loyalty to her elders and her dreams for the future, Coumba hatches a secret plan to rescue her young sister from a fate she did not choose.
The film poignantly depicts a family struggling to find its footing on the fringes.
The film was shot on location, and features actors from the area, playing roles that mirror their actual lives.
Teicher also stated that it’s the first feature film in the colloquial Pulaar language.
Watch the trailer below and then go stream it on Netflix: