Urbanworld Goes for "Collateral" Opening Night
by Brian Brooks
Michael Mann's "Collateral" will open the 8th annual Urbanworld Film Festival on August 4th in New York, organizers announced recently. Starring Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith and Mark Ruffalo, the film, which will screen at the Magic Johnson Theaters in Harlem, is about a taxi driver who becomes hostage to an engaging contract killer as he makes his way from one hit to the next during a night in Los Angeles. Members of the cast are expected at the screening. The film will launch the five-day event, which will include 103 films, exhibiting "independent urban cinema."
Urbanworld will host the world premiere of Leslie Small's "Beauty Shop" starring Mo'Nique, centered on a salon in L.A. called 'Head Hunters.' Zhang Yimou's story of the rise of the first Chinese emperor and the dawn of the Qin dynasty in "Hero" is slated, as is a special screening of Nicole Kassel's "The Woodsman," about a pedophile (Kevin Bacon) who returns home after 12 years in prison. Urbanworld will also host a special 20th anniversary screening of Prince's "Purple Rain."
Michael Shultz's "Woman Thou Art Loosed" will play in the narrative features competition. The film, starring Kimberly Elise, is a story of a woman who comes from an abusive home and ends up in prison, but seeks the help of Bishop Jakes (the bishop plays himself) who uncovers the mystery of her past that has lead her in a self-destructive path. Also in competition is Rich Devaney's "Brooklyn Bound," about a street kid from East New York who deals drugs to pay for his mother's treatment and to keep his brother off the streets.
Documentaries include Jonathan Stack's "Liberia: An Uncivil War," which reveals the 2003 battle in the capital climaxing a decade-long civil war as people hope that American intervention will stop the violence as well as an insider look in the world of Hip Hop in "Beef II" by Peter Spirer. "Juvies," directed by Leslie Neale and produced by Mark Wahlberg takes a look at juvenile offenders and questions the logic of trying youth as adults, while Fredric Golding's "Hardwood Dreams," is a ten year follow-up film to the original "Hardwood" featuring top high school basketball recruits ten years later. Wesley Snipes narrates the film.
Closing Urbanworld on August 8th is Nick Castle's "The Seat Filler." The romantic drama, starring Duane Martin and Kelly Rowland, is the story of a pop star, who falls for a "seat filler" at an awards ceremony.
"We are thrilled to host a dynamic slate of films that reflect the energy and elasticity of urban cinema," commented Stacy Spikes, founder of Urbanworld in a statement. "These first-rate pictures have been selected to illustrate the varied and rich textures of the international film experience. We thank the many artists who will share their work with us this year, and encourage cinephiles everywhere to join us for a four-day celebration of the best and brightest in urban moviemaking." Urbanworld is presented by MTV2.