Tag Archives: Forest Whitaker

Film Review: Dope

Written by Jeff Bannis




What can one say about DOPE? Firstly, that it’s a far more intelligent comedy than the usual Hollywood effort.  It also has a cast list packed with young talent that will entertain and charm the most hard-bitten of cinema-goers.  On top of that, there are some thought-provoking moments that really hit home.

The opening scenes, where we meet Shameik Moore‘s Malcolm establish him as a nerdy kid who, in the best traditions of high school comedy, is mercilessly bullied by jocks.  In voiceover, Malcolm complains he is unpopular because he does “white stuff”, like read books.  Malcolm is obsessed with 90s rap music, as are his friends Diggy and Jib (played by Kiersey Clemons of Transparent and Tony Revolori of Grand Budapest Hotel).  One’s a lesbian, the other is just odd,  like Malcolm they’re also outsiders.

When not on the run from the jocks, our geeky chums like to play in their rock band, Awreeoh (geddit?) or hanker after girls. Malcolm’s current crush is on smart ghetto girl Nakia, played by Zoe Kravitz. Nakia also attracts the amorous attentions of hood-with-a-heart, Dom (A$AP Rocky).

Set in a tough neighbourhood, named “the Bottoms” in the film but in reality a thinly disguised Inglewood LA, its only a matter of time before the eponymous illegal substance rears its head.  Finding himself in accidental possession of a massive drugs cache, Malcolm has to figure out a way to avoid the law and keep various drug-dealing villains off his tail while securing a scholarship to Harvard. Piece of cake!

Its a complex set-up but there are some truly funny lines along the way. DOPE has a winning cast, some genuine laughs and the film’s light approach persuades you to stick with it. It’s a departure from its producer, Forest Whitaker‘s last success, the excellent Fruitvale Station, although the two share the same camerawoman.

On the demerit side, for a film that sets out to debunk black stereotypes, DOPE misses its targets.  Malcolm and his friends all love 90s rap, so why do they choose to express this through dated, post-punk pop music (courtesy of executive producer Pharrell Williams)?  The stuff Awreeoh perform really is rubbish but its presented, embarrassingly, as quality.  Now, perhaps its aimed at the assumed demographic for a John Hughes-influenced teen comedy, but its inclusion here implies that rock is the default musical form for intelligent teens, rather than just for white people.  Why don’t Awreeoh just make 90s-style rap?

On a similar note, in a piece direct to camera, Malcolm challenges the audience to examine their supposed surprise that he wants to go to Harvard.  This falls flat because “disadvantaged kid achieves excellence” is such a well-established trope in Hollywood, we can all write this film’s ending. Who exactly do the makers think will part with hard cash to see this film?  For its likely audience, it isn’t a revelation that black youths strive to achieve – it’s a revelation when they make it.

Rick Famuyiwa is not a debutant director – his forthcoming HBO movie, Confirmation, which stars Kerry Washington as Anita Hill will doubtless raise his profile even further.  But DOPE’s weak points are due to his uncertain handling of tone, especially noticeable in intimate scenes.

The film scores hugely when it throws the over-complex storyline away for a while and lives in the moment. The LAPD need to put out an APB on model-turned actress Chanel Iman right now, because she absolutely steals this movie with a hilarious cameo.  It doesn’t play any part in the story but it’s genuinely funny, sexy and lifts the whole endeavour into the arena of anarchic fun that is surely the initial intention of every comedy writer.

It’s not giving much away to say that DOPE has a happy ending.  In a manner that’s not fully expounded on-screen, Malcolm acquires a backbone and starts standing up for himself.  The fact that he shows this by selling drugs and in a willingness to use violence undermines the film’s message somewhat but it puts necessary story elements to bed.

Dope has great entertainment value and is ambitious in trying to satirize the stereotyping of black people as criminals and their white clientele as warm, freedom-loving human beings.  If in rounding all the bases it loses its way, it should be forgiven if only because it takes such a refreshingly grown-up stance on stubbornly immovable social barriers.

© 2015 Jeff Bannis

Dope In Cinemas 4 Sept

Meet The Artiste: Filmmaker Rick Famuyiwa

Looks like Forest Whitaker will be joining cast of Star Wars: Rogue One



According to news reports Forest Whitaker is in talks to join the cast of Star Wars: Rogue One in an unspecified role, reports Variety.

The Oscar-winning American actor, 53, is in line to join an impressive team of players in Gareth Edwards’ film, which is expected to centre on a group of rebel fighters vying to steal the plans to the first Death Star. Felicity Jones, Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna and Ben Mendelsohn have already been cast.

Variety suggests Jones, Ahmed and Luna will all play rebels. The title of the spin-off – Disney-owned Lucasfilm is referring to the film as its first “Star Wars Anthology” movie – suggests they will be X-Wing pilots.

Confirmation that the film will be set prior to the events in 1977’s Star Wars means Disney could, in theory, even cast a new actor as villain Darth Vader. Reports prior to the announcement of the new Star Wars film The Force Awakens suggested that a number of iconic characters from the original movies, such as Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett, might turn up in future spin-offs.

Whitaker is best known for his Oscar-winning turn as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland. He has largely steered clear of science-fiction fare since 2000’s Scientology-stained stinker Battlefield Earth saw him nominated for a Razzie award for worst supporting actor.

Rogue One is due to hit cinemas on 16 December, 2016, approximately a year after JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens kicks off a new trilogy of Star Wars films.

Courtesy of theguardian.com

Director Antoine Fuqua directs Gyllenhaall in Southpaw

Written by Graeme Wood


Director Antoine Fuqua’s ‘Southpaw’ opens in the UK this July, the drama stars Jake Gyllenhaall as a boxer fighting his way to the top of his profession only to have his personal life fall apart around him.

Fuqua’s previous films include Training Day, The Replacement Killers, Olympus Has Fallen and The Equalizer. In ‘Southpaw’ Gyllenhaall plays Billy ‘The Great’ Hope a Junior Middleweight Champion whose fighting stance, the ‘Southpaw’, is an ineloquent and brutal display of offensive fighting. Billy Hope has it all; a beautiful home, family and financial security but when a tragic accident leaves his wife dead it sends him on a downward spiral of self destruction. His days become drug and alcohol fuelled, his home is reposed and his daughter taken by Child Services. All seems lost until a washed up former boxer Tick (Forest Whitaker) agrees to take Billy under his wing and train him to mount a comeback in the ring. Billy must become a new man, fight to regain his title and to take back custody of his daughter.

Fuqua has been nominated for several awards previously and won the ‘Black Reel’ Best Director Antoine_Fuquaprize in 2002 for Training Day, though he has not been nominated for an Academy Award even though Training Day’s lead actor Denzel Washington was nominated and won Best Actor in 2002.

The screenplay for ‘Southpaw’ comes from Kurt Sutter who says he was inspired by the struggles of Marshall Mathers, “He shared so much of his personal struggle in this raw and very honest rap album, one that I connected with on a lot of levels. He is very interested in the boxing genre and it seemed like an apt metaphor, because his own life has been a brawl. In a way, this is a continuation of the 8 Mile story, but we are doing a metaphorical narrative of the second chapter of his life. He’ll play a world champion boxer who really hits rock bottom, and has to fight to win back his life for his young daughter”.

Eminem was originally in line to play the lead role when the film was at Dreamworks, they later dropped the project and then everything was put on hold when Eminem decided to focus on his music career. Antoine Fuqua came on board to direct in 2014 with The Weinstein Company taking over distribution of the movie. The stellar cast also includes Rachel McAdams, Rita Ora, Naomie Harries, Forest Whitaker and 50 Cent.

Gyllenhaall fresh from his acclaimed performance in ‘Nightcrawler’ has undertaken a stunning physical transformation for the role. The 33 year old method actor, who lost 30lbs to play Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler, added 15lb of muscles to his usual weight to play Billy Hope. Fuqua told Deadline; “Jake is going to change how people see him. I had him training twice a day in the boxing ring, seven days a week. I pretty much had him with me and my trainer every day. He’s a very electric, powerful fighter in this movie.”

Southpaw opens in July in the US and the UK and Fuqua’s next project will be a remake of ‘The Magnificent Seven’ with his Training Day/Equalizer star Denzil Washington, the pair are also in talks regarding a sequel to 2014’s The Equalizer.

View the Southpaw trailer here:





Hey to celebrate the UK release of the fantastic musical film “Black Nativity” starring Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson, Tyrese Gibson, Nasir ‘Nas’ Jones, Mary J Blige and Jacob Latimore we have some goodies to give-away to 5 lucky people.

Is your luck in – have a go and let’s see – and here’s wishing you the best!


Answer this question:

Q: Name 3 Black musical films in total that have been made since the early 1920’s to present?

Send your answer to us via email with Subject Heading ‘BN COMPETITION‘ to: info@kushfilms.com

(5 winners will be randomly chosen from a draw of correct answers; winners announced: Monday 23rd December).

* Only one entry per person; please abide by the rules

Film Review: The Maze Runner

Written By Jacqueline Shepherd




This autumn sees the release of The Mazer Runner, the movie based on James Dashner’s best-selling novel of the same name. The book is described by many fans as a combination of Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games so a film was inevitable.

I can see why comparisons to the aforementioned stories exist, a group of young people living MR_NewGreenie_webtogether in an alternative society and drama ensues, but actually the boys in the Glade – the idyllic setting hemmed in by the menacing walls of the maze – are a very different comradeship and while factions and in-fighting exists it comes from a place of respect and friendship and the desire to protect one another from what lies beyond the walls of the maze.

The film opens through the eyes of the lead character Thomas and we share in his disorientation as he literally surfaces from the depths of a shaft like container into the glade. Unlike other new arrivals it’s the inquisitive nature of Thomas that will take you on the adventure, allow you a glimpse into the maze, the horror of its inhabitants the Grievers and give you a brief insight into what or who put them there.

Dylan O’Brien (Thomas) is not yet a household, but cited as one of Hollywood’s brightest talents currently starring in MTV’s Teen Wolf. His portrayal of the enquiring, curious sometimes reckless ‘greenie’ is a believable and engaging one and he’s in good company as the film is awash with British actors who have done some growing since we last saw them.

Leader of the pack Alby is played by Aml Ameen who recently portrayed a young Forest Whitaker AmlAmeen_MazeRunner-smlin The Butler; I got to chat with him for Kush Films Online and he told me his character was like the “benevolent brother… in love with the world that they have created… sometimes dark and often complicated”; for me Ameen was excellent, I found him to be bold, still, for moments vicious, yet mature and youthful all in one serving and his American accent was spot on.

For Will Poulter we see a departure from innocence and goofiness as he showcased his newly buff appearance as the ardent yet stubborn Gally, an antihero of sorts. Thomas Brodie-Sangster who for those of us that don’t watch Game of Thrones will be surprised to see that he is no longer the cute kid from Love Actually but a kindly, inwardly strong individual with a  gravitas  unusual for someone of his age but credible and persuasive nonetheless much like his character Newt. And a mention must go to former Skins actress Kaya Scodeliario who as the only female in the mysterious world achieves well the balance of action-hero and compassionate soul although I’m sure I spotted a bit of an accent slip!

It’s always tricky concluding a story that leaves the door open for sequels and while I felt The Maze Aml_MazeRunner_fightRunner did so quite well, I had to stifle a guffaw in parts toward the end. Ameen talked about his joy in being in a film that harks back to adventure movies like Hook and I have to agree. Visually you could lose yourself in the light, bright glade, yet feel stifled by the darkness of the maze and the impressive sound effects that fed the imagination with an eerie suggestion of dreadfulness. For those reasons Maze Runner works well as a cinema experience and I would suggest it’s a go see!

The Maze Runner is in cinemas from 10th Oct 2014


Watch our Exclusive Interview with stars Aml Ameen & Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Watch More Exclusive Clips Here: http://www.kushfilms.com/the-exciting-maze-runner-coming-soon/

Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MazeRunnerUK
Official Twitter page: https://twitter.com/MazeRunner_UK
Official Tumblr blog: http://mazerunner-uk.tumblr.com/

Fruitvale Station is coming to a cinema near you!


The UK’s leading promoter of urban cinema
in association with new UK distributor Altitude Films
presents the UK release of the multi award-winning film.


Fruitvale Station is coming to a cinema near you!

Writer and director, Ryan Coogler’s powerful, unflinching film debut, FRUITVALE STATION will open in UK and Irish cinemas on 6 June.

FRUITVALE STATION tells the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B Jordan), a 22-year-old Oakland, CA resident over the course of December 31, 2008 as he works on being a better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter.  As the day goes on Oscar realises that change is not going to come easily and as he and Sophina celebrate the New Year and a fresh start, one truly shocking, tragedy shakes his community – and the entire United States – to its very core.

Written and directed by debutant Coogler, the Independent Spirit Award and double Sundance Film Festival winner was produced by Forest Whitaker.


FRUITVALE STATION will open in key cinemas
across the UK and Ireland on 6 June.


In London

Cineworld Haymarket
Curzon Soho
The Barbican
Empire Leicester Square
Odeon Covent Garden
Odeon Holloway
Odeon Swiss Cottage
Picturehouse Hackney
Ritzy Brixton
Vue Finchley Rd
Vue Islington
Curzon Wimbledon
Cineworld Enfield
LEXI Cinema
Odeon Edmonton
Odeon Greenwich
Odeon Streatham
Odeon Wimbledon
Peckhamplex Peckham
Picturehouse Stratford East
Showcase Newham
The Aubin Cinema
Vue Shepherds Bush
Vue Westfield Stratford
Also Nationwide at:
Duke Of York’s Brighton
Broadway Nottingham
Odeon Birmingham Broadway Plaza
Phoenix Oxford
Showcase Dudley
Watershed Bristol
Cornerhouse Manchester
Liverpool FACT
Odeon Manchester Filmworks
Cineworld Sheffield
Cameo Edinburgh
Cineworld Glasgow RS
Glasgow Film Theatre
IFI Dublin
Light House Dublin
Week 2 – 13th June
Hyde Park Leeds
Picturehouse Greenwich
Shortwave Bermondsey
Rio Dalston
Curzon Victoria
Genesis Mile End
Week 3 – 20th June
The Barn Dartington

New sites are being updated as they come in – keep abreast
of new venues by using this app link here:

New Cinemas

If you want FRUITVALE STATION to play a your local cinema, ask them to book it!


FRUITVALE STATION is one of this summer’s must see movies.

see the full cast list here
read an inteview with the film’s director here
follow @fruitvalemovie on twitter
see a list of national cinemas on the special  facebook page

Fruitvale Station – interview with the film’s director Ryan Coogler



The multiple award winning film Fruitvale Station tells the true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Oakland, California resident, and the harrowing events that befell him on the night of New Year’s Eve  2008.  Here we speak to the film’s first time director Ryan Coogler.


What originally inspired you to make this film?
I was originally inspired to make this film by the event itself, as well as the aftermath. I was in the Bay Area, on Christmas break from film school when it happened. I heard that someone had been shot at the BART station, and that he passed away the next morning. On New Year’s Day I saw the footage, and I was deeply affected by it. Looking at the footage, I realized that Oscar could have been me…we were the same age, his friends looked like my friends, and I was devastated that this could happen in the Bay Area. During the trial I saw how the situation became politicized: depending on which side of the political fence people stood on, Oscar was either cast as a saint who had never done anything wrong in his life, or he was painted as a monster who got what he deserved that night. I felt that in that process, Oscar’s humanity was lost. When anyone’s life is lost, the true nature of the tragedy lies in who they were to the people that knew him or her the best. The footage, the trail, and the aftermath filled me with a great sense of helplessness. Many people in the Bay Area community participated in protests, others took parts in rallies and marches. There were also many riots stemming from desperation. I wanted to do something to make a difference, and I thought that if I could bring the story to life through art, and give audiences the chance to spend time with a character like Oscar, it could maybe lower the chances of an incident like this happening again.

How, and at what point, did Forest Whitaker come on board?
Ryan-Coogler-Forest-Whitaker-at-Cannes-Film-Festival-052513When I was in my last semester of film school, in January of 2011, I got word that Forest’s production company, Significant Productions, had been looking for young filmmakers to mentor and become creatively involved with, and that my name had come up in their search for filmmakers.  I went over to their office and met with Nina Yang, the head of production. Nina was great. She told me about the company’s mission statement and that she would love to read some of the stuff that I had written. I showed her a few of the projects that I had been working on, and after looking at them she decided that she would like to get me in the room with Forest.
I met Forest a few weeks later and was really encouraged by his humility and his passion for filmmaking and social issues. He was interested in hearing what type of projects I wanted to work on once I got out of school and I pitched him a few that I had been developing. Finally, I told him about FRUITVALE STATION and explained to him that it was the project closest to my heart. I talked about how I would structure the film, and about how I was already in touch with the lawyers in charge of the civil case through a friend who was formally a law student at USC and now worked on the case back in the Bay Area. Forest said that he would like to help me make the film immediately after the pitch, and shook my hand, and walked out of the room. I was so excited that I went home and started working on the outline immediately.

How long did it take to develop the film and what obstacles, if any, did you run into?
I started outlining and getting public record documents from my friend Ephraim Walker, who worked with John Burris, the family’s civil attorney on the case around the same time that I pitched the project to Forest. After Significant green lit the project, I then went to meet with the family, and pitch them on allowing Significant to have the rights to Oscar’s story. It involved a lot of trust on their behalf and I had to reassure them that I wouldn’t sensationalize the story in any way. I just really wanted the story to be told from the perspective of someone the same age and demographic as Oscar, and from the Bay Area. This took time. I showed them my short films, and told them about myself, and about why I thought that the story should be told through the lens of independent cinema. Eventually they agreed to move forward with the project.
FVS_PoliceGraspAnother challenge was making the film with a modest budget while still wanting to stay true to certain artistic convictions. We wanted to shoot in the Bay Area. We wanted to shoot on super 16mm film. These things all involved being open to creative solutions and going at an accelerated pace. We shot the film in twenty days, and didn’t have any pickups involving talent. The rapid fire schedule certainly didn’t stop after production. We shot in July 2012 and premiered at Sundance six months later. The schedule was an extremely challenging component, and put a lot of strain on everyone involved.
One of the biggest challenges stemmed from wanting to shoot in some of the real locations, mainly BART. There was a lot of worry about how we would get the BART station and train scenes shot, and because it is such a painful event for the company and the community, many doubted that they would cooperate. But we approached them, and found that they were open to meeting with us about the film. I met with them and told them what the project would be about, and why we wanted to shoot on BART premises. After hearing the pitch, they decided to cooperate with our production.

You were selected to bring the film’s screenplay to the 2012 Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab. What effect did that experience have on you as a filmmaker and on how the project turned out?
Getting selected into the Sundance Labs was absolutely essential in making the film what it came out to be. So many positive elements that came together for the film were as a direct result of support received from The Sundance Institute and the hard work of the Feature Film Program staff. Michelle Satter, Ilyse McKimmie and their team provided much needed support much for me and the film throughout all the stages of the filmmaking process. In the 2012 Screenwriting Lab, I was able to take a week and focus on the script, while surrounded by a community of extremely talented artists who want to see everyone succeed in telling the story they want to tell. They provided me with the tools I needed to make a stronger script, and their support continued throughout prep, production and post. They provided us with financial grants, crewing advice, reading further drafts of the script, and watched cuts of the film as it progressed. They also provided introductions to people in the industry, like Craig Kestel who would later become my agent and play a pivotal role in helping secure the cast for the film.

Tell us a little about the process of casting the film.
Before writing the script, I knew that the lead would have to be able to carry the entire film. He would need to possess a great range and charisma, and it would be helpful if he had a lot of experience due to the rapid shooting schedule we were in for. I also wanted to have someone who resembled Oscar. There are pictures of him everywhere in the Bay Area and on the internet, and we needed someone with a great smile and eyes that could draw the viewer in, like Oscar’s. And it would help if the actor was around the same age as him.
FVS_Mum&OscarGrant_sadIn my mind, there was only one person who fit all of these requirements. I had Michael B. Jordan in mind before I had even written the script, and I was excited about the opportunity to really showcase his work in a lead role. We reached out to him after the labs and he took a meeting with me before reading the script, which I thought was really cool. We really hit it off in the meeting and I came away knowing that he was perfect for the role. I was thankful that he read the script later and wanted to do the project.
I knew we needed someone amazing for the role of Wanda, as she was such an important force in Oscar’s life and her character in the script would need to show a great deal of range. After reading the script, my agent Craig Kestel decided that we should reach out to Octavia, who had just won an Oscar for THE HELP. I knew she would be perfect for us, but I figured that she would never do it. He encouraged me that she would consider it, and we reached out with the script, and a few days later, she committed. Working with her was like a dream come true to everyone involved. She brought such professionalism, and a nurturing quality to the set, but also a great youthful energy and sense of humor. There is no one like her.
FVS_OscarGrant&GirlfriendMelonie Diaz for the role of Sophina came about through several recommendations, including from members of the Sundance Lab staff. I had seen her work before and really responded to it. We reached out to her and gave her the script, but because she was in New York and I was here in California, we had to have our initial meetings over the phone. After talking to her over Skype we offered her the role, and she came with a tremendous energy and work ethic. We were so grateful to have her; she and Mike had an amazing chemistry together.
The San Francisco Film Society, who were also amazingly supportive with financial grants and Bay Area film community connections, supported us with their Off The Page program. They flew both Michael and Melonie out to the Bay Area before our shoot, and put them up in the Bay Area for three days. While they were here we were able to workshop the script on SFFS property. I was also able to take them to meet Sophina and Tatiana, as well as take them to spend time in Oscar’s old neighborhood.
For the roles of Oscar’s friends, I was able to cast several of my friends that I had grown up with who were the same age as Oscar and his friends. Michael got along with them all really well, and they were able to lean on each other for support with what was, for many of them, their first time working on a feature film. Because most of them grew up with each other, their camaraderie came across onscreen and felt like true, lifelong friendships.

The story of Oscar Grant was a nationwide media sensation that fueled a great deal of controversy and news coverage. What made you decide to make this a narrative film, rather than a documentary?
FVS_babyTalkI decided to make a narrative feature about these events for several reasons. For one, I wanted to tell this story sooner than later, because events like this keep happening. One of the advantages to fiction filmmaking versus non-fiction filmmaking is that a fiction project can usually be completed faster. My favorite documentaries all took several years to make. Another reason was the difference in perspective in character driven fiction films versus documentary films. I personally believe that narrative filmmaking, when done right, can get you closer to a character than a documentary can.  In this story, I wanted the audience to be as close to Oscar as possible, without the barrier of the character knowing that he is being filmed, which is a barrier that is difficult to break in documentary filmmaking – especially with a limited schedule.

At the time of Oscar’s shooting, there were an overwhelming amount of witnesses who shared cell phone videos of the incident online. What role do you think this found footage played in the profile of the case, and how useful was it to you in making your film?
The footage played a key role in this case, because if it had happened ten years earlier, when people didn’t have the type of technology that they did in 2009 that enabled them to record video instantly, Oscar’s death wouldn’t have had the impact that it did. It would have been people giving verbal accounts of what happened, as opposed to documenting it with video evidence. The footage makes everyone who watches it a witness to what happened, and it is ultimately what made the case different from other officer-involved shootings.
The footage was very useful in terms of blocking the scene and working out the individual beats. But it also made for an added level of emotional difficulty in making the film. I cannot count how many times I have seen Oscar get shot, over and over again, from different angles, and each time you see something like that, it’s like it takes a piece of you.
But more so than anything, the role of cell phones and video cameras in the case inspired us to explore the use of cell phones throughout the film. It made us think about how we use them. Though it was four years ago, Oscar connected with his loved ones often through his cell phone, even on the last day of his life.

Was there a particularly difficult element or scene of the film to write and shoot?
Because we were dealing with such a short schedule, every scene we shot had its own inherent difficulties. I think that it’s like that whenever you’re making a film, but I think the most difficult scene to shoot was the scene on the Fruitvale BART platform. BART was extremely cooperative with us but they couldn’t let us shoot during their hours of operation. We could only have access to the platform and train between 1:15am and 5:15am.
FVS_OscarpleadsDue to that, we had to shoot the scene over three four-hour days. This was a challenge because the scene is our most involved, and included several elements: stunts, several extras, a firearm, and most importantly highly intense emotional beats. But our cast and crew really rose to the challenge. Before every one of those shooting days, everyone involved, from the film crew, to the cast, to the extras, to the BART employees, would come together in a moment of silence before we began filming on the location where Oscar was shot. And though we had limited time, everyone brought a focus and supportive energy to our short days at that location.

Aside from learning the story of his shooting and tragic death, what else do you want this film to teach audiences about Oscar Grant?
I want audiences to know that he was a real person. He was a person with real struggles and personal conflicts, but also with real hopes, and real dreams, and goals. And his life mattered deeply to the people that he loved the most. I hope that the film gives the audience a proximity to characters like Oscar that reading a newspaper headline can’t.

FRUITVALE title Orange on Black

This award-winning film hits UK cinemas from 6th June 2014
read the synopsis and watch the trailer here
see the full cast list here
follow @fruitvalemovie on twitter
see the nationwide lists of cinemas on the special  facebook page




Fruitvale Station – meet the cast



KUSH FILMS, the UK’s leading promoter of urban cinema, in association with new UK distributor Altitude Films,
presents the UK release of the multi award-winning film.  Meet the cast……


Michael B. Jordan is considered to be one of Hollywood’s brightest young actors. In 2012, he starred in 20th Century Fox’s box office hit CHRONICLE (directed by Josh Trank), a supernatural thriller that follows three Portland teens as they develop incredible powers after exposure to a mysterious substance. He also had a supporting role in George Lucas’ film REDTAILS (directed by Anthony Hemmingway), the story of the first African American pilots, called The Tuskegee Airmen, to fly in a combat squadron during WWII.
Michael recently starred alongside Zac Efron, Imogen Poots and Miles Teller in THAT AWKWARD MOMENT.
Before beginning his feature film career, Michael was best known for starring in two of the most significant television dramas of the past decade. First, Michael received critical acclaim for his portrayal of the hard-shelled, soft-hearted young urbanite Wallace in HBO’s dramatic hit series THE WIRE. He then went on to star as the quarterback Vince Howard on the critically acclaimed, Emmy-winning NBC series FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. He also portrayed recovering alcoholic Alex on the third season of NBC’s fan favorite series PARENTHOOD.
Graced with the opportunity to begin a professional acting career early in his life, Michael caught the eye of Dr. Bill Cosby and was cast in the recurring role of Michael for the CBS sitcom series COSBY in 1999. Almost simultaneously, he appeared on the HBO series THE SOPRANOS. The following year, he was selected from hundreds of hopefuls to play Jamal in the Paramount Pictures feature film HARDBALL starring Keanu Reeves.
In 2003, Michael became the youngest African American actor to be contracted with the ABC network daytime drama series ALL MY CHILDREN in the role of Reggie, Susan Lucci’s adopted son. Michael later moved to Los Angeles where he soon landed a lead role in the independent film BLACKOUT, starring Melvin Van Peebles, Jeffrey Wright, and Zoe Saldana.  In the fall of 2007, Michael was cast in his first feature film, Rockmund Dunbar’s ensemble PASTOR BROWN.  He has had guest appearances on CSI, COLD CASE, LIE TO ME, WITHOUT A TRACE, and LAW & ORDER.
Michael received NAACP Image Award Nominations for “Outstanding Male Actor in a Television Daytime Drama Series” in 2005, 2006 and 2007. He resides in Los Angeles where he enjoys supporting the non-profit organization Lupus LA.



Melonie Diaz was raised in New York’s Lower East Side. She was bitten by the acting bug while she attended the Henry Street Settlement. Melonie also attended the Professional Performing Arts High School. Her mother and father are both of Puerto Rican descent.
She started her film career with a supporting role in Tom DiCillo’s DOUBLE WHAMMY and later landed her breakthrough role in Peter Sollett’s RAISING VICTOR VARGAS. She then was cast in Catherine Hardwicke’s LORDS OF DOGTOWN and DitoMontiel’s A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS, which earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Female. She was also cast by Jamie Babbit in the lead role of Anna in ITTY BITTY TITTY COMMITTEE, as well as roles in HAMLET 2 and BE KIND REWIND.
She recently appeared in the indie features SAVE THE DATE opposite Lizzy Kaplan and Geoffrey Arend and SHE WANTS ME, opposite Hillary Duff, Aaron Yoo and Charlie Sheen.


12th Annual AFI Awards - Red Carpet

A veteran character actress and one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents, Octavia Spencer has become a familiar fixture on both television and the silver screen.  Her critically-acclaimed performance as Minny in DreamWork’s feature film THE HELP won her the 2012 Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award, SAG Award, and Broadcast Critic’s Choice Award among numerous other honors.
Octavia was most recently seen in SMASHED, an independent film which also stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul and Megan Mullally. The film premiered to rave reviews at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. This year, she will star in Diablo Cody’s PARADISE alongside Russell Brand and Julianne Hough and the action-adventure SNOWPIERCER with Tilda Swinton and Chris Evans.
Octavia’s acting career began with her big screen debut in 1995 in Joel Schumacher’s A TIME TO KILL, opposite Sandra Bullock.  Since that time, she has built a diverse and impressive resume and in 2009 was lauded by Entertainment Weekly for her comedic timing when she was named to their esteemed “25 Funniest Actresses in Hollywood” list.
In 2009, Octavia directed and produced a short film entitled THE CAPTAIN, which was a finalist for the coveted Poetry Foundation Prize at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.
Octavia is a native of Montgomery, Alabama and holds a BS in Liberal Arts from Auburn University.  She currently resides in Los Angeles.


kevin duranKEVIN DURAND – Officer Caruso
Canadian-born Kevin Durand has developed a versatile background, beginning in comedy and Broadway then transitioning into television and film, illustrating his ability to captivate a wide range of audiences. Durand was nominated for a 2012 Genie Award for his performance in IFC Films’ EDWIN BOYD.  In 2009, he was nominated for a Saturn Award for his recurring character, Martin Keamy, on the popular series LOST. Durand can be seen in David Cronenberg’s COSMOPOLIS opposite Robert Pattinson, Screen Gems’ RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION, the independent feature THE TRUTH opposite Andy Garcia and Forest Whitaker and in EDWIN BOYD alongside Scott Speedman.  Most recently, Durand completed production on Darren Aronofsky’s NOAH for Paramount and New Regency alongside Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins. Before his film career, Durand was voted one of Canada’s funniest new comedians.  In addition, he originated the role of Injun Joe in THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER on Broadway.



Actor and author, Chad Michael Murray, has showcased his brooding good looks and talents on television sets and silver screens for over a decade.  He has been a teen heartthrob on pop culture classics with roles on DAWSON’S CREEK, GILMORE GIRLS, and ONE TREE HILL, and his film credits include FREAKY FRIDAY, A CINDERELLA STORY, and HOUSE OF WAX. Chad also recently starred in Lionsgate’s THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT 2: GHOSTS OF GEORGIA, the second film based on the popular three-part horror book series. Coming up, he will appear in the comedy CAVEMEN and Tyler Perry’s newest, A MADEA CHRISTMAS.  Recently delving into the comic con convention world for his first graphic novel, Everlast, Chad is quickly conquering the art of hyphening: television actor-film actor- director-graphic novelist-author.  Chad can also be seen in an arc on the TNT series SOUTHLAND, as Officer Dave Mendoza.





RYAN COOGLER – Director and Writer
Ryan Coogler is a 26 year-old filmmaker from the East Bay Area, California who has been making movies for five years. His feature length screenplay FRUITVALE, based on the 2009 BART police shooting of Oscar Grant, was selected for the 2012 Sundance January Screenwriter’s Lab. In 2011 his student short film FIG, which followed a young street prostitute’s fight to keep her daughter safe, won the Director’s Guild of America Student Filmmaker Award, as well as the 2011 HBO Short Filmmaker Award. FIG was broadcast on HBO. Coogler still lives in the Bay Area where in addition to making films, he works as a counselor at Juvenile Hall in San Francisco. He earned his MFA in Film and Television Production at the University of Southern California in May 2011.




Forest Whitaker is a talented, versatile performer and one of Hollywood’s most accomplished figures. He has received prestigious artistic distinctions including the 2007 Academy Award® for Best Actor for his performance in THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. He has also received the BAFTA Award, SAG Award, and Golden Globe® for Best Actor. In addition, Mr. Whitaker received the Best Actor for BIRD at the Cannes Film Festival.
Whitaker’s social awareness has compelled him to seek ways of using the film medium as a means to raise peoples’ consciousness. He produced the award-winning documentary KASSIM THE DREAM, which tells the poignant story of a Ugandan child soldier turned world championship boxer, RISING FROM ASHES, which profiles Genocide survivors of the Rwandan war who have risen from wooden bicycles to competing in the Olympics, SERVING LIFE, which focuses on hospice care for prisoners at Louisiana’s Angola Prison, and the Emmy nominated and Peabody Award-winning BRICK CITY, which takes a look at inner-city life in Newark, New Jersey.
In 2007, Whitaker received the Cinema for Peace Award for his selfless and ongoing advocacy for child soldiers, as well as his work with inner-city youth. He was also awarded the Humanitas Prize in 2001. In 2008, he served as a member of the Urban Policy Committee and currently sits on the board of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). Whitaker serves as a Senior Research Scholar at Rutgers University, and a Visiting Professor at Ringling College of Art and Design. In 2011, Whitaker was sworn in as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation. In this role, he works towards global peace building through anti-violent education, research, training and community building.

FRUITVALE title Orange on Black

This award-winning film hits UK cinemas from 6th June 2014
read the synopsis and watch the trailer here
follow @fruitvalemovie on twitter
see a list of nation-wide cinemas on the special facebook page


Fruitvale Station Finally Hits UK Cinemas


The UK’s leading promoter of urban cinema
in association with new UK distributor Altitude Films
presents the UK release of the multi award-winning film.

FRUITVALE title Orange on Black

Quad_Fruitvale-Station_loreThis poignant award-winning film hits UK cinemas from 6th June 2014

The multiple Independent Spirit Award, Cannes and Sundance Film Festival winning film follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Oakland, California resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air.

Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz),  and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter.

Crossing paths with friends, family, and strangers, Oscar starts out well, but as the day goes on he realises that change is not going to come easily. As he and Sophina celebrate the New Year and a fresh start, one truly shocking, tragedy shakes his community – and the entire United States — to its very core.


 Director Ryan Coogler

Produced by Forest Whitaker

Featuring rising star
Michael B Jordan
Academy Award Winner
Octavia Spencer

FRUITVALE STATION is one of this summer’s must see movies.
For more details stay tuned to KUSH FILM

see the full cast list here
read an inteview with the film’s director here
follow @fruitvalemovie on twitter
for a list of nationwide cinemas check the special facebook page

Renaissance 2014 Black Movie Preview


By ReBecca Theodore-Vachon
Dec 27, 2013

black movies 2014

2013 was a win-win for Black cinema with both critically acclaimed movies (“12 Years A Slave,” “Fruitvale Station”) and in the box office (“Best Man Holiday,” “The Butler”).  Now that Hollywood has gotten the message that movies with casts of color are indeed profitable, 2014 promises more dramas, romantic comedies and action thrillers for Black moviegoers.

We’ve compiled a list of some of our most anticipated projects for 2014:

“Ride Along” Starring- Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Tika Sumpter

UK Release Date: 07/03/2014

Fast-talking security guard Ben (Kevin Hart)  joins his cop brother-in-law James (Ice Cube)  on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta in order to prove himself worthy of marrying Angela (Tika Sumpter), James’ sister.


“About Last Night”  Starring- Michael Ealy, Joy Bryant, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart

UK Release Date: 21/03/14

New love for two couples as they journey from the bar to the bedroom and are eventually put to the test in the real world.


“Repentance” Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Forest Whitaker, Anthony Mackie, Mike Epps

US Release Date: 02/28/2014

An earnest life-coach/author, Thomas Carter (Anthony Mackie), is mysteriously abducted by a deranged client, (Forest Whitaker) who delves into Thomas’ teachings and uses his spiritual messages of Karma – action and reaction (Vipaka), against him to terrorize him and his family for their past sins.


“The Single Moms Club” Starring: Nia Long, Tyler Perry, Amy Smart, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Terry Crews, Cocoa Brown

US Release Date: 03/14/2014

Brought together by a vandalism incident at their children’s school, a group of single mothers from different walks of life bond, and create a support group that helps them find comedy in the obstacles of life.


“A Haunted House 2″ Starring: Marlon Wayans, Liana Mendoza, Dave Sheridan, Iva La’Shawn

US Release Date: 03/28/2014

Having exorcised the demons of his ex, Malcolm (Marlon Wayans)  is starting fresh with his new girlfriend (Jaime Pressly) and her two children. After moving into their dream home, however, Malcolm is once again plagued by bizarre paranormal events.


“Belle” Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Susan Brown, Tom Coulston

UK Release Date: 13/06/2014

An illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral is raised by her aristocratic great-uncle.


“Think Like A Man Too” Starring: Gabrielle Union, Megan Good, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy, Romany Malco, Kevin Hart

Release Date: 19/09/2014

All the couples are back for a wedding in Las Vegas, but plans for a romantic weekend go awry when their various misadventures get them into some compromising situations that threaten to derail the big event.



“Get On Up” Starring:  Chad Boseman, Tika Sumpter, Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, Jill Scott

US Release Date: 08/01/2014

A chronicle of James Brown’s rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history.



“Addicted” Starring: Sharon Leal, Kat Graham, Boris Kodjoe, William Levy, Tasha Smith, Tyson Beckford

US Release Date: 09/05/2014

Based on Zane’s bestseller, a woman’s sex addiction threatens to ruin her family life.



“No Good Deed” Starring: Idris Elba, Taraji P. Henson

US Release Date: 09/12/2014

A wife and mother of two (Taraji P. Henson), lives an ideal life that takes a turn when her family is threatened by a stranger who talks his way into her house, claiming car trouble. The unexpected invitation leaves her terrorized and fighting for survival.



“The Equalizer”
Starring – Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Melissa Leo, Marton Csokas

US Release Date: 09/26/2014

Denzel Washington and “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua reunite for their second feature. Washington plays a covert operative who, seeking redemption for his dark deeds, quits a CIA-like agency and puts a classified advertisement in the paper that reads simply: “Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer”



“Annie” Starring: Quevanzhane Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Dorian Missick, Cameron Diaz, Tracie Thoms, Rose Byrne

US Release Date: December 19, 2014


Source: http://theurbandaily.com/2013/12/27/2014-black-movie-preview/
© 2013