Judas And The Black MessiahJudas And The Black Messiah Is A Powerful Must-See Film – SOHH.com

Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield star in the gripping, flawlessly well scripted & acted, Ryan Coogler produced biographic film Judas And The Black Messiah, directed by Shaka King. The movie dual releases from Warner Bros. on Friday Feb. 12th, 2021 in select CinemaSafe theatres as well as streaming on HBO Max the same day. The film gives us the true & tragic stories of Illinois Black Panther Party (BPP) members, Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton (Kaluuya) and William O’Neal (Stanfield), focusing on O’Neal’s time with the BPP as an FBI informant during the civil rights era of the late 60’s.

The movie opens with an interview of William O’ Neal, asking him what he might say to his son about his own activities in the late 60s & 70s. The seemingly rhetorical question is more than enough to stir up emotions as the movie begins and, SPOILER ALERT: we get the answer to the question at the end of the movie. From the moment the film starts, we’re transported back in time to 1968 Chicago. Shaka King does an outstanding job of capturing the era through the fashion, cars, and soundtrack.

The historical detail created by select locations combined with the passion and artistic skills of the actresses & actors comes across naturally, establishing a viewing experience that is not only informative & admirable, but also compels the viewer to face some very real and alarming realities that black men and women faced in society over 50 years ago and that we’re still facing today.

During the virtual screening summit, I was able to gain access to some personal and deep conversations with the cast & crew of Judas And The Black Messiah. Listening to Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. talk about his father’s time with the Illinois Chapter Black Panther Party was an opportunity and experience that I will carry forward with me. The Chairman spoke of the mutual respect he felt from director Shaka King as well as the cast, sharing how thoroughly Daniel Kaluuya studied the particulars of his father’s style and gestures. He went on to praise the actors and cast stating that nothing felt artificial and everyone involved listened to the advisors on set, taking their insights and working them into their roles.

The story, based on the true events of Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton‘s life was written by Shaka King, Will Berson, and the Lucas Bros., Kenny & Keith. Known for their many contributions and credits to comedic writing productions over the past decade, one might think that the twins out of Newark might be a strange selection for writing a script for a movie as racially and politically charged as Judas And The Black Messiah. What you may not have known about the brothers is that they both graduated from the College of New Jersey in 2007 with degrees in philosophy. The two then went on to study law at New York University and Duke before dropping out to pursue their dreams of stand-up comedy. The brothers contribute a philosophical, in-depth approach to story-telling that, start to finish, causes the audience to be drawn into the captivating atmosphere of this truly inspiring piece of history.

American film director, producer, and screenwriter Ryan Coogler gains his second movie producing credit with this film, adding to his young but already extensive, as well as impressive, catalog of work including three past projects with actor Michael B. Jordan. Coogler was the writer and director for Fruitvale Station in 2013, Creed in 2015, and Marvel Studios’ Black Panther in 2018.

The film’s director, Shaka King, spoke to his vision of what he hopes viewers will take away from the movie. The Brooklyn native says the the film has a myriad of things for audiences to take in. The young director says he aspires that messages like voices of resistance being silenced & crushed come across in this biography and that audiences might find a deeper understanding of just how dangerous inaction can be. By showing that the BPP led with love and not fear, and that they were, and are still, philosophers and community organizers with the intentions to bring positive changes in ways of equality and safety to their communities, was to not only shine a light on the legacy of Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton by correcting the record of history, but also to express the emotional revelation & insight of Bill O’Neal‘s uncertainty of his identity as he was pulled between the two worlds of the Black Panther Party and the FBI.

Dominique Fishback plays Deborah Johnson, the fiancee’ of Fred Hampton and mother of his only child, Fred Hampton Jr. During the virtual screeners summit, Akua Njeri, formally known as Deborah Johnson, shared memories of her life with Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton and the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party. She said that Dominique Fishback did a great job of portraying her and that both Fishback and Kaluuya also did an amazing job of producing the chemistry between herself and Fred Hampton. Ms. Njeri, who prefers to be addressed as Mother Akua, spoke of the 1968 Black Panthers’ community involvement, particularly their work for children like the ‘Free Breakfast for Children Program’. By 1971 The Black Panther Party had created over 60 community social programs including things like free medical centers, blood drives, housing cooperatives, & child development centers. One of the most impressive concepts I heard during the virtual summit came from Mother Akua and I do not want to misquote her, but it was something to the effect of her speaking to the people who say things like, “I wish I was back there with the BPP”. Her response to those people was basically that the BPP is still pushing today. So get involved! Make sacrifice for your people and for your cause! https://www.nfg.org/news/black-panther-cub-new-era-civil-action

Judas And The Black Messiah is an incredible testament to Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. and his legacy. The movie shines a light on pieces of current American history that for far too long had only been told by companies like McGraw-Hill and Pearson through public education textbooks. What these incredible artists have come together to create (and I’m speaking of the cast, crew & family), not only will educate and entertain audiences now and for years into the future but they have also contributed a very high standard of cinematic greatness to the filmmaking industry. The director’s vision is clear, and his passion for the content comes through in his work. The story flows evenly, following a natural, logical course in a way that many different cultures of people will be able to appreciate. It’s clear that the actors & actresses took their roles honorably and showcased their talents flawlessly! The movie is certain to gain them huge accolades of worthy attention in the ways of modern thespian performance. To the stylists, the musicians, all of the artists and their talents that were involved… Thank you all for your contributions to this film, to the world of entertainment, and for your support to the pursuit of black history and the true tellings of our stories. #First #BOHH #BlackOwnedHipHop

Judas And The Black Messiah dual releases Friday February 12th, in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.


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