She has, somewhat unnoticed (we could say), directed 5 feature films since 2009 (both in the USA and in Ghana) – each one (except for her debut) covered on this blog since its inception, also in 2009. There aren’t exactly many black women filmmakers directing feature films at an almost annual pace (and each one has seen some form of commercial release), as she has done since her debut. So if you weren’t already aware, now is probably a good time to get to know the work of Ghanaian-American filmmaker Leila Djansi, whose latest feature, a drama titled “Where Children Play,” stars several African American actors you’d be familiar with, like Teyonah Parris (the “Dear White People” co-star who stars, playing the lead, in Spike Lee’s upcoming “Chi-Raq,” and who also co-stars on Starz’s hit summer series “Survivor’s Remorse,” which is exec produced by LeBron james).
Parris stars in Djansi’s “Where Children Play,” as Bell, a woman estranged from her family for 10 years, who returns to her hometown, Compton, for her mother’s funeral, and is forced to stay and nurse her ailing father – a task that proves daunting as the house becomes flooded with memories of the abuse they suffered at the hands of the very man she must now look after. Her sister, Ruby, who died in the house, has also long awaited Bell’s return.
Parris is joined in front of the camera by other names you’d recognize like Brian White, Edwina Findley, Macy Gray, Leon, Miranda Bailey, Kylee Russell and Nigerian American actress Osas Ighodaro.
Produced by Amanda Marshall, along with Violetta Ekpe, Victoria Lea, Suzanne Patrick, and exec produced by Dave Harper, “Where Children Play” was picked up by RLJ Entertainment, with a December 1, 2015 release date (today) on VOD platforms and DVD. So look for it on iTunes, Amazon video and elsewhere.
For you Netflix subscribers, 2 of Djansi’s past films are streaming on Netflix, so you can catch up and become familiar with the filmmaker and her work before “Where Children Play” is released. Both dramas, and both broadly-described as centering on women on the cusp of change, they are 2011’s “Ties That Bind” (Kimberly Elise co-starred), as well as “And Then There Was You” (toplined by Garcelle Beauvais).
Watch the trailer for “Where Children Play” below: