The 23rd Annual Urbanworld Film Festival, along with founding partner HBO, has a powerful lineup this year. The slate that includes 78 official selections and 7 spotlight selections, will take place in New York City, September 18-22.
Focus Features’ “Harriet” will open the festival on September 18. Cynthia Erivo stars in Kasi Lemmons‘ inspiring biopic about renowned abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and risked her life to lead others to freedom through the network of safehouses known as the Underground Railroad.
Erivo, Lemmons and producers Debra Martin Chase and Daniela Taplin Lundberg will be at the Q&A following the film. Lemmons is also this year’s festival ambassador.
“I’m thrilled to share Harriet with the Urbanworld Film Festival audience,” she said. “The experience of creating this film was life-changing for me in so many ways.”
“Black and Blue” will close the festival September 21st. The fast-paced action thriller from Screen Gems follows rookie cop Alicia West (Naomie Harris) who inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam. After realizing the murder was committed by corrupt cops, West is in a race for her life. She tries to escape both the criminals out for revenge and the police who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage. Milo (Tyrese Gibson) is the only community person that will help her.
A Q&A will follow the screening of “Black and Blue.” Having seen “Black and Blue,” I can assure you audiences are in for a tremendous treat. It is one of this year’s best films. Denzel Washington received an Academy Award for “Training Day” playing a bad cop; it will be interesting to see if Harris’ fine performance as a good cop will get her an Oscar.
“Just Mercy” is the powerful true story of Harvard-educated lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) as he goes to Alabama to defend the disenfranchised and wrongly condemned—including Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), a man sentenced to death despite evidence proving his innocence. Bryan fights tirelessly for Walter with the system stacked against them. From director Destin Daniel Cretton and based on the book by Stevenson, the Warner Bros. film will screen on Friday, September 20 and there will be a conversation with Stevenson after the screening.
“Each year we strive to expand our programming slate to expose stories, themes and characters that have been under-represented in our world. This year is no exception,” said Gabrielle Glore, Festival Director & Head of Programming, Urbanworld Film Festival. “What is most exciting to see is the continued elevation of quality manifested across our content creators’ work, as we celebrate their creativity and craft.”For a complete lineup and tickets go to: www.urbanworld.org
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