Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

MISCELLANY - News Roundup


Postings will continue to be less frequent for an undeterminable number of days... I have other matters to take care of, and news has been trickling lately. Not much to report or comment on.

Here are a few items I thought worth sharing:

- As expected, 2009 Sundance winner, Push, gets picked up by Lionsgate, with the help of Oprah and Tyler Perry, for $5.5 million, the largest Sundance deal this year.

- Spike Lee's production company has acquired rights to Brendan Koerner's Now the Hell Will Start, a nonfiction tale about a private who went native in the Southeast Asia jungle during World War II, and will develop as a feature.

- In her first booking since being nominated for an Oscar, actress Viola Davis has been cast alongside Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler in the psychological thriller Law Abiding Citizen, Directed by F. Gary Gray.

- Samuel L. Jackson has signed on to join Kerry Washington, Naomi Watts, Annette Bening and Jimmy Smits in director Rodrigo Garcia's Mother and Child.

- PanAfrican Film Festival announces lineup of films. Festival runs from February 5th to the 16th.

- Lastly, here's a firstlook of Common in this summer's highly anticipated 4th installment of the Terminator series, Terminator: Salvation, which stars Christian Bale.

That's all for now!

FRIDAY FUNNIES - I'm A Studio, I'm An Indie

I wish I had thought of this! Smart and funny!

This comedy troupe borrowed the now famous "Mac vs. PC" commercials, and created a parody that humorously illuminates the differences between the Hollywood studio system, and the independents. There are a total of 4 videos thus far - each about 1.5 minutes which you can see at

Here are the first 3:

Good Thursday Morning!


Notorious scribe, Cheo Hodari Coker, is becoming a very busy man. A week after the B.I.G. biopic opened in theatres across the country, the first-timer is reportedly now attached to write screenplays for 2 other feature-length films.

Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter stated that Coker has been hand-picked by mega-producer, Brian Grazer, to pen a drama set in the world of low-riding car culture, for Universal and Grazer's production shingle, Imagine.

The film will be aptly titled, Lowriders.

The project is based on an idea by Grazer, who is supposedly intrigued by the low-riding culture, unique to black and Latino communities - essentially, young men (mostly) who drive around in cars with adjusted suspension systems.

And this morning, The Hollywood Reporter also announced that Coker has been attached to adapt Bill Adler's Tougher Than Leather: The Rise of Run-DMC -- The Authorized Biography for DJ Classicz, the urban arm of Davis Entertainment. DJ Classicz president Dallas Jackson optioned the book recently and will produce with production partner John Davis.

Tougher will explore the history of hip-hop's first superstars: Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels and Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell, who was shot to death in his Queens studio in 2002.

A timely event I suppose, as Run-DMC will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 4.

"It's an extraordinary rags-to-riches journey that I'm eager to bring to the screen," Jackson said. "And I'm hoping to have Run, DMC and Russell Simmons' involvement. This will be a big movie about the 1980s hip-hop movement that took over the world."

A "big movie about the 1980s hip-hop movement" sounds ambitious, and he certainly has my attention. I grew up on hip-hop of the late 80s/early 90s, so I (and millions of others) have a vested interest in the production.

Don't screw it up!

Cheo Hodari Coker, for whom Notorious was his first attempt at screenwriting, was previously a journalist who wrote for Premiere, Vibe, Rolling Stone and Spin before transitioning to screenwriting. Looks like brothaman will be busy for awhile. Good for him!

via AOLBV // THR

FESTIVAL - Pan African Film Festival

One of the better black film festivals in the country, IMHO.

I'm hoping to make an appearance, provided my application for a press pass is approved, so that I can take in as many films as I possibly can, and, of course, blog about them, as well as my overall experience at the festival, right here, on The Obenson Report.

One noteworthy scheduled screening is, Killer Of Sheep writer/director, Charles Burnett's next work, titled, Relative Strangers, which stars Eriq LaSalle as a once successful man, who separates himself from his family, fearing failure, until he receives word of his father’s death, and has to return home, and face those he left behind.

Drama ensues, I'm sure.

The film costars Cicely Tyson, Michael Michele, and Michael Beach.

Blair Underwood has been pegged as the Master of Ceremonies for the festival, which runs from February 5th to the 16th. Check out their website for the entire program of screenings and panels at

Below is a trailer:



The annoyingly mawkish, typical Hollywood trailer music aside, this looks like it could be worthwhile.

Sophie Okonedo can be fun to watch, despite what sometimes feel like stage theatrics in her performances (bring it down a little bit Sophie... bring it down... you're in a film, not in a stage play).

Said to be based on a true story...
a genetic abnormality caused Sandra, born of white parents in apartheid South Africa, to look like a black person. Her parents, rural shopkeepers serving the local black community, lovingly raise her as their 'white' little girl. Tormented and unaccepted by white society, though classified as white, she falls in love with a Black man and moves to a township, alienating her parents. The film follows Sandra’s thirty-year journey from rejection to acceptance, betrayal to reconciliation, as she struggles to define her place in a changing world.
I sense some wonderful opportunities here to deconstruct racial identity, and I hope the film doesn't shy away from tackling the subject matter head-on, relentlessly, as its mainstream counterparts often tend to.

Skin will make its debut at the Pan African Film Festival next month, which I'm hoping to attend, provided the festival awards me with a press pass.

I'd guess that a straight-to-dvd future lies ahead for the film.

Good Tuesday Morning!

Yet another slow news day... It's January. What do you expect?

It's a good thing though... I've got so much reading to catch up on, and films to watch. I'm also working on a screenplay for my next feature project which I hope to produce some time this year, if all works out as planned.

So, these slow news days allow me to focus on other just as important matters.

I saw this humbling image on another site this morning. It puts everything into perspective I think.

PODCAST #42 - Interviews With Barry Jenkins (Medicine For Melancholy), And Scott Sanders (Black Dynamite)

Podcast #42

TRT: 60 Minutes

Episode Notes:
Brandon Wilson ( and I spent the hour talking to Barry Jenkins, writer/director of Medicine For Melancholy, as well as Scott Sanders, writer/director of Black Dynamite.

Listen below, or subscribe and download for
FREE via iTunes:

POSTER - Obsessed (Beyonce, Idris Elba)

The poster for the Beyonce-produced (along with her father), Obsessed, which will be released in April. I posted the trailer for the film HERE.

And just like the trailer, the poster is uninspiring! It looks like it could be the cover of your choice of any so-called "street lit" novels.

The title is just as generic and tawdry.

Am I looking forward to seeing this? No! Isn't it obvious :o)

Poor "Stringer" Bell... he hasn't done much worth watching since his days on The Wire.


THINGS THAT MADE ME GO HMM - Spike Lee Directing Wesley Snipes In James Brown Biopic

I don't know how I missed this. I had no idea this was happening, but apparently, it's been in the works for a couple of years, since James Brown's death on Christmas Day, 2006!

Or maybe I knew, but it just floated further away from my mind for one reason or another. I even searched my blog to see if I had posted something about it previously, but found no such thing.

I must be slipping... or sleeping.

Anyway... I just read that Spike Lee and Paramount have a James Brown biopic in the works, which will star Wesley Snipes, as the godfather of soul. The project is said to have come together shortly after Brown died in 2006 of congested heart failure.

Wow! Wesley as J.B.? If there's one man/woman whom I think will make for a challenging project for any actor/actress, James Brown would be that person. His mannerisms, his speech, his onstage persona, all that energy, and flamboyancy. It's one of those performances that could fail as unintended comedy, if not handled with skill.

Sure, James Brown's public personality was worthy of an intended laugh, or two, or three, but he had a depth that balanced him out. It's evident in his music alone.

I fear a caricature of the man; I haven't seen Wesley in anything this demanding, and with "hit/miss" Spike at the helm, I'm a little skeptical.

BUT, I'm hopeful, and will keep my eyes and ears open for any information on this.

According to MTV News, Snipes will not be doing any real singing of James Browns songs. He'll be lip-syncing.

“We’re doing it together – it’s going to happen,” Lee told MTV News in an exclusive interview at the Sundance Film Festival this week. The Oscar nominated director of “Do the Right Thing” and “Inside Man” lavished praise on Snipes. “He’s my man,” Lee said; but when it comes to the vocals on Brown’s classic tracks like “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “Get Up Offa That Thing,” expect to hear the authentic voice of James Brown being dubbed in.

“I want to hear James Brown’s voice,” the director said. “That’s just my personal taste.”

That's probably a smart decision on Spike's part.

I have no idea when the film starts shooting, or when it will be released. It doesn't even have an IMDB page. What the hell? Is this an early April Fool's prank?

Good to see Wesley returning to center-stage with probably his most challenging effort to date. Might we be talking about "award-winning actor" Wesley Snipes some time in the near future, following in the footsteps of Mickey Rourke?

Stay tuned...


Good Monday Morning!


It was a relatively slow news weekend. Sundance wrapped up its festivities yesterday, Sunday, with Push winning 3 awards (see my post below); and I didn't see any films worth talking about, although I hoped to check out a couple of re-releases - a new 35mm print of Chantal Ackerman's 1975 3 1/2-hour debut,
Jeane Dielman, and Carlos Reygadas's 2 1/2-hour drama of adultery and penance, Silent Light. Alas, I was quite the lazy bum this weekend, and stayed in mostly. The freezing temps outside didn't help much either.

Luckily both films will be around for the week, so I should get my opportunity.

The "slow news" theme continues today, as there isn't much to report this morning... other than the below spec that songstress Rihanna might be joining Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz, and Drew Barrymore as a fourth Angel in a 3rd installment of the Charlie's Angels big screen series.

From SlashFilm:

Ms. Barrymore recently blabbed to E! about wanting to add a third Angels film to the pair she already has... Sci Fi Wire managed to get an interview with her compadre Ms. Juvonen and pushed for as much info as she was willing and able to give.


“We’d have to do it with McG. I don’t think we could do it without McG and I think that the Angels all at least need to be there. Right?”

She also posited the possibility of a fourth Angel joining the team, adding “I’m having a Rihanna fixation myself. What are you going to do?”

And on the replacing of Bernie Mac who passed away last year:

The interview also addresses the passing of Bernie Mac, which was a sad reminder of his passing. Juvonen knows that she would have to act respectfully in the replacement of Bosley, and admits to having given it some thought… though what thinks she thunk, I dunno.

I'm not much of a fan of the Charlie's Angels movies... I used to watch the TV series as a kid with Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith, and I remember really liking the show; much of the spirit in which the TV series was made was lost in the big screen adaptations, and I just didn't care much for either of them. So, I don't feel strongly one way or another about Rihanna as a 4th Angel, because I probably won't see the film anyway... if it is made.

But I'm sure there'll be some unhappy voices, notably actors, lamenting the loss of yet another paid, potentially high-profile acting job to a popular musician, who really doesn't need the added exposure.


SUNDANCE 2009 - "Push" Wins Big At Sundance!


I just read a post by Neil Miller over at Film School Rejects that states,

"I was sent over a scoop by a very reliable source that said that Lionsgate is very close to acquiring the U.S. distribution rights to the film. The source said that the deal may not be done yet, but that Lionsgate is working hard to get it done."

Well... Lionsgate has proven to be more willing to take risks with films that other majors aren't necessarily rushing to buy.

Stay tuned...


I know I'm about a day late on this, and most of you have probably already read or heard the news... but here it is anyway:

The award winners of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival were announced yesterday evening, and Lee Daniels's Push, based on a novel of the same name by Sapphire, was the big winner, as it won the Dramatic Grand Jury prize, the Audience Award AND the Special Jury prize for actress Mo’Nique.


When was the last time a film at the festival swept the majors like this one did? I'd have to research, but I'm very sure it's a rare occurrence.

Kudos to Lee Daniels and company for what sounds like an extremely worthwhile production, and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing the film whenever I'm given the opportunity.

However, despite the accolades, including all the wonderful reviews I've read from critics who screened the film at the festival, Push did not get picked up by a distributor... which isn't at all surprising to me.

About 20 years ago, a little film by the name of Chameleon Street was also awarded the Grand Prize at the Sundance Film Festival that year, by a jury that was led by then relatively unknown Steven Soderbergh, whose Sex, Lies And Video Tape took home the same prize the year before, and didn't have much difficulty attracting a mini-major distributor, in the then Weinstein brothers owned Miramax. Unfortunately, the same fate escaped Chameleon Street, and Wendell B Harris, the filmmaker, had to settle for a smaller distribution company, after the festival was long over, that simply failed to ensure the film's success - a film that only recently, in the past year or so, was finally given the DVD treatment.

As for Push, I'd expect a happier ending; Lee Daniels has been around long enough to know how to properly navigate the established system to his advantage. So, I'm certain the film will find the right distributor; and that might mean a cable TV buy, as opposed to the coveted theatrical release.

We'll see.

But the award wins are very good news, and should help the film in the marketplace!

Stay tuned...