Lee Daniels and Push take Sundance

Producer-Director Lee Daniels
Producer-Director Lee Daniels

Producer-director Lee Daniels [Monster's Ball, The Woodsman] has hit the high mark with Push.  A coming of age tale about Precious, a pregnant Harlem teen who navigates through incest, physical and emotional abuse, racism, self-hatred, illiteracy, HIV and obsesity [this is not a Disney flick]… Precious struggles until she stumbles upon a radical schoolteacher who offers her a revolutionary way out—literature and finding her voice through writing.  The film is based on Sapphire's 1996 novel Push and it has earned both Sundance's top-tier Grand Jury Prize as well as the Audience Award.  Mo'Nique [The Parkers] earned the Sundance's Special Jury for Acting for her portrayal of the abusive mother.  I was lucky enough to perform in a stage adaptation of Sapphire's American Dreams several years ago in NYC.  I played one of the culprits in the legendary Central Park "wilding" incident and it launched my short-lived acting career.  As an actor, I had never been asked to tap into that much poetic-ugly in order to spread such human truth.  There's nothing about Push that's easy.  It's unrelenting in its honesty and horror, and some [you know, easily-scared, moral police types] will turn up their noises at the film's gift for poetic truth-telling.  But it's a story with a pure happy ending—Precious discovers the breadth of her own value and that's everything.  Hats off to Lee Daniels for his courage and gift!

Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.

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