Tag Archives: The butler

Brash Young Turks & Race @ The Film Boutique: June 2016


I hope you have your tickets for the great line-up of films we have coming up in June at the UK’s No.1 and longest running exhibition platform of urban/black films.

This May we celebrated 18 years of leading the way in creating a platform for black filmmakers. Over the last 18 years we have worked on over 200+ films and organised marketing and PR campaigns for major film releases like: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Crash, Freedomland, Ong Bak, Red Tails, The Story of Lovers Rock, Ghett A’ Life, The Butler, Black Nativity, 12 Years A Slave, Half of a Yellow Sun, Starred Up, Fruitvale Station, The Maze Runner, Gone Too Far, Selma, Chris Rock’s Top Five and many other home entertainment titles.

Yep it was us, that set the path for others to follow in the field of film exhibition of urban/black films, but none other has done what we have done by moving into the mainstream and getting paid by mainstream films distributors to screen and market the very said films we choose to champion on our own at the outset of our long journey.

We all owe Kush CEO Marlon Palmer a debt of gratitude, for his vision and tenacity in realising this dream, a dream he still continues to fight for today; as not a lot has changed since 1998.

We could not have got where we are today without our supporters and we salute them for their long-standing support and the friendships we have built up over the years!

So right; what do we have for you in June, well we have a new British urban action-drama by filmmaker Naeem Mahmood and following the film ‘Race‘ which is the epic story of athletics NAEEM-MAHMOOD-DIRECTORlegend Jesse Owens who single-handedly slapped down the delusional dictator & mass-murderer Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympics (see here for more info on Race).

Make sure you get your tickets and come on down and support these great films with your ‘bum‘ on a seat at the lovely Regent Street Cinema, the heart of film land London.

Tickets to all screenings is £15 (students: £11)
BOOK HERE: https://www.regentstreetcinema.com/programme/brash-young-turks/

Also see here for trailers etc & more info:


June 2016 at the Kush Film Boutique

We present a special exclusive screening of the new hyper-stylized action-drama that appeals to all with the story revolving around a tale of friendship, love and adulthood.

Brash Young Turks which will be attended by the director Naeem Mahmood, writer Paul Danquah and stars Paul Chiedozie and Melissa Latouche.


BOOK HERE: https://www.regentstreetcinema.com/programme/brash-young-turks/

Special Guest Performance by hot new artiste

Our home for all screenings:
The Regent Street Cinema
309 Regent Street,
London, W1B 2UW
Tel: 0207 911 5050



Kush Films
E: info@kushfilms.com
Tel: 0203 070 3200
FB: KushFilms

Empire Ticks all the Boxes for Diversity on Steroids!

 Original article from huffingtonpost.com
Written by Lauren Duca


Empire” is easily one of the most progressive network shows on television. It’s been a pioneer in bringing (almost all) black actors to lead roles while setting new standards in LGBT and mental health representation. So, when you imagine the face behind it, Doyle from “Gilmore Girls” (a.k.a. Danny Strong) is an unlikely image.

“He’s the voice of black America,” Amy Sherman-Palladino said sarcastically during the “Gilmore Girls” reunion at the ATX Television Festival on June 6. “The community finally found someone to speak for them: Danny Strong!”

Strong laughed politely from across the stage. Although, during an interview with The Huffington Post at the Roaring Fork restaurant in Austin, he bristled when asked about how he checks his privilege in crafting these characters.

“I write characters of every race, gender and sexual orientation. I write some characters that are animals. That’s just my job,” he said, grimacing as he looked up from his phone. “To me, writing ‘Empire’ is not more difficult than Sarah Palin [in ‘Game Change’]. … I mean, I’m not a Republican from Alaska.”

As a middle-aged white man from Manhattan Beach, Strong doesn’t directly address any specific challenges of building authority or credibility in creating a series about aspects of the black experience, let alone writing the fictional roles that portray them. Instead, when he talks about the tasks of writing for “Empire,” Strong mentions only transitioning mediums.

“It’s difficult writing episode after episode, as opposed to a self-contained movie,” Strong said. “I don’t really know what was the most challenging. It’s all the same process for me.”

The reality is there are straight, white men behind the overwhelming majority of TV shows. Still, it’s a bit unsettling to hear how Strong came up with “Empire.” The show is so ground-breaking, series Empire_Cast_Album_Cover writer Wendy Calhoun said during ATX, that she was warned: “If [‘Empire’] fails, they’re not going to let another all-black show on television for 20 years.” And yet the idea is credited to a white guy realizing he likes hip-hop.

“It’s so random how it came about,” Strong told moderator Jarett Wieselman during the “Empire” panel. “I was driving in a car in Los Angeles … and there was a story on the radio about Puffy and some deal that he closed. I don’t remember what the news story was, but hearing the news story, I thought, ‘Hip-hop is so cool! I wanna do something with hip-hop!’ That was literally my mind set.”

Strong started writing when he was 25, after he’d spent some time as Jonathan Levinson on “Buffy” and before he landed the role of Paris Geller’s boyfriend and budding journalist Doyle on “Gilmore Girls.” Hoping for a lead role, he wrote a film for himself to star in. It was a dark comedy about two guys who try to kill an old man to get his rent-controlled apartment. Nothing came of it, but he liked the process so much he decided to pursue a career separate from acting.

His first actual writing job came with “Recount,” a film which met detractors citing his roles on “Buffy” and “Gilmore Girls.” “It was just what people used when they wanted to attack the movie,” Strong said, clarifying that, for the most part, his primetime character acting has been a non-issue in finding writing jobs.

“In the writing community, if it’s on the page they’re into it,” he added. “You have proof of your abilities, or lack of, with the script. So, having the acting background didn’t hinder me at all.”

Strong, who turned 41 the day of the “Gilmore Girls” reunion at ATX, has now gone on to work on several major projects including crafting the screenplay for both of the “Hunger Games: Mockingjay” Lee-Daniels-Taraji-Pmovies and, more importantly, “The Butler,” which led Strong to work with Lee Daniels and eventually partner with him on “Empire.”

Strong explained that he originally thought of the show as a movie “with a father who was a Jay-Z-Puffy-esque hip-hop mogul” and then applied Shakespearian archetypes to the narrative. “The whole concept flooded into my head in about 30 seconds,” he said.

He was in post-production on “The Butler” at the time and decided to pitch the idea to Daniels as a musical movie, noting he “had it mostly worked out” by the time Daniels was on board. Daniels liked the idea, but thought it would work better as a TV show.

“We instantly started talking about ‘Dynasty’ and ‘Dallas,’ and if we could do a black ‘Dynasty,'” he said. “So the only thing that’s pretty interesting about this is that literally ‘Empire’ was created from every single first idea that happened spontaneously. So, it was, ‘We should do it as a TV show!’ “Yeah, we like ‘Dynasty’!’ ‘Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, like, a black ‘Dynasty’!'”

When speaking with HuffPost later that day, Strong mentioned that he had since “done research” to be able to represent the black community. But inevitably, there are certain things he must address when his perspective feels, at the very least, out of place.

One such example popped up during the aforementioned panel, when Strong addressed Terrence Howard’s comments that “Empire” characters “don’t say n–” on the show. “It’s not a documentary about hip-hop,” he said. “It’s a soap opera that takes place in the hip-hop world.”

It’s clear the saving grace comes is the writer’s room, an area where Daniels has been proudly vocal about diversity (most recently pressuring his peers to consider the range of their staffs during a panel conducted by The Hollywood Reporter).

While Strong is a straight, white man, perhaps best known in the mainstream for running the Yale Daily News, his concept for such a powerful black show is brought to life by a diverse group of people behind the scenes. There is a wide range of voices working on each script. And, as Wieselman noted, with the exception of one (written and directed by Strong), every episode has been credited to a writer or director of color, sometimes both.

“Is it diversity when it’s almost entirely African Americans?” Strong asked (to silence from the audience).

“It is mind-blowing,” Calhoun chimed in. “You have to understand, for me, up until ‘Empire’ I was usually the only black writer in the room for the most part. So, for years, I was carrying that torch.”

“It really sunk in for me, because I started to realize that we were really able to get into the nuance of our culture,” she said. “We were no longer just talking about the surface of our culture that I think many people know and are familiar with, because that’s kind of all they hear about. We were able to get really down into it, because we were so familiar with it.”

The Butler: Michael Dequina Film Review


Written by Michael Dequina © 2013

Upon the most brief and superficial of glances, it’s easy, if not somewhat understandable, to approach Lee Daniels’ The Butler with some trepidation.

After all, history be damned, another high profile Hollywood film about African-Americans doing domestic service work?  But to dismiss the film off hand is to not give director Daniels and screenwriter Danny Strong their proper due for the value of the story they tell–and not necessarily speaking in terms of its notable fact-based story: that of a White House butler who served under seven presidents from the 1950s to the 1980s.

The fact that said butler, here in fictionalized form named Cecil Gaines (played for most of the movie by Forest Whitaker, with a strong assist from Michael Rainey Jr. and Aml Ameen as younger incarnations), was a witness to such revolutionary eras of socio-political change, particularly for African-Americans, in such close proximity to the nation’s commanders-in-chief is indeed remarkable.  However, for all the monumental signpost events touched on and recognizable actors taking on the roles of various iconic figures (such as, for a start, Robin Williams, James Marsden, Liev Schreiber, John Cusack, and Alan Rickman are seen as Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Reagan, respectively; Nelsan Ellis as Martin Luther King; Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan), what ultimately registers and resonates most strongly is *not* the film’s brisk and showy tour of 20th Century American history, particularly in terms of racial politics.

Where Daniels and Strong truly engage is in the uncommonly seen story and experience of a late-in-life self-actualization, following the intimate, gradual internal journey as Cecil slowly, inevitably grows away and out from the comfortable silence of servitude to an awakening and awareness of his own value, place, and identity as an individual in the world and, above all else, within his own family.   But this is all painted in a more complex way than merely an arc of a silent bystander discovering his voice and strength.  Rather, it’s one in allowing his strength to develop and evolve with the times; one witnesses how adopting such an outwardly passive role from an early age was a necessary and rather brave survival tactic in the era of his youth, especially after witnessing the brutal loss of his father (a briefly seen but effective David Banner) as a child; and as times progress, so do prevailing attitudes shift from one of remaining in sheltered safety to daring to take the risk of proactive self-expression.

Serving as both a counterpoint and unexpected complement to Cecil’s journey is the rising political consciousness of his eldest son Louis (a terrific David Oyelowo).  His more militant trajectory naturally causes conflict within the more traditional values of Gaines household, but if Cecil is able to ultimately take from his son inspiration to be more assertive, Louis learns from his father’s example that one can still fight the existing power without compromising his own by being constructive rather than destructive.

As Cecil’s loyal but often neglected wife Gloria, Oprah Winfrey reminds that not for nothing did she first win major widespread attention as an actress, and her natural empathy that has made her such a multimedia phenomenon over the decade’s works to her advantage in this return to the screen.   If some of her darker struggles, such as her oft-mentioned but only momentarily seen struggles with alcohol, are somewhat glossed over, Winfrey effortlessly connects the viewer to those ups and downs.  But no one connects as strongly, powerfully as Whitaker. Cecil is a deceptively simple and exceedingly difficult part to pull off, what with his relatively few words and placid inaction for most of the film; but appropriately for a film that follows a lead character whose largely a witness, Whitaker’s ever-observing, ever-expressive eyes tell the tale of how he actively processes, thinks, and feels even if outwardly he may appear as nothing more, as his job requires, than a virtually invisible bystander.

Daniels’s measured, deceptively unadorned direction works in a similar fashion.  Far removed from the brash, in-your-face, go-for-broke approach that has largely characterized the films he’s thus far either directed or  produced, he exhibits a mature restraint not only in terms of his own body of work but in terms of decades-spanning historical films, with broader melodrama often sidestepped in favour of a more straightforward,  matter-of-fact depiction.  If, as the film bounces from historical event to historical event, this may feel somewhat routine as a moment-to-moment to viewing experience, it effectively places the viewer squarely in Cecil’s literal and figurative vantage point–not only as a fly-on-the-wall observer to the stream of events, but also how the effect of the experiences build to a far-from-routine cumulative catharsis that one could not so easily foresee. Much like the butler by the end of his film journey, a still, silent viewing audience is moved, perhaps to a surprising degree, by the totality of the entire experience, and maybe even enlightened and inspired by discoveries not so much about the world than what the events of it illuminate about oneself.

Michael Dequina
The Movie Report: http://themoviereport.com

The Butler is in UK Cinemas Now
More info Here

Academy Conversations: The Cast & Director of The Butler in Conversation