I’ve known of the film’s TV One broadcast debut for a few months, but couldn’t say anything about it until it was made public.
Russ Parr‘s controversial drama The Undershepherd, will make its broadcast TV premiere on TV One on Saturday, March 30th.
So does this mean no theatrical release? Well, unfortunately, no. But there’s a lot of backstory to this that I’ll share in a later post; I had the opportunity to interview Russ in January, before his film was to make its New York premiere at the New Voices In Black Cinema Festival, and he shared quite a bit about his struggles with the film, in the distribution space, that I think you all will find interesting and revealing.
I’ll have that interview posted up before the film airs on TV One.
I call it a controversial film because, having seen it myself (twice) and
talked to Russ about it, it’s been simultaneously
embraced 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
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.
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.
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.
So now more of you will get to check it out, and from what Russ told me, unedited, meaning you’ll get to see it in its original theatrical form.
There’s still no proper full trailer yet, and I hope one is cut and released very soon, with March 30 not-so far away.
But here’s a short teaser: