By the time you read this blog, you are probably overcoming the ‘itis—but it’s cool because we don’t have anywhere to go anyway! Sink back, lean into that ‘itis and enjoy your leftovers (they taste better because the seasonings had time to marinate, you know?) Want something to watch while you eat? I got you...
First Impressions: Our very own co-founder Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the executive producer, host and writer of this upcoming two-part series which “traces the centuries-old story of the Black church in America, all the way down to its bedrock role as the site of African American survival and grace, organizing and resilience, thriving and testifying, autonomy and freedom, solidarity and speaking truth to power.”
First Impressions: The next film out of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology series is Red, White and Blue starring John Boyega. I’m looking forward to this because not only is it based on a true story (of Leroy Logan), it touches on the very timely and relevant complications that come with being a Black police officer in an inherently white supremacist system.
First Impressions: Aw, it’s great to see Kel Mitchell! The first iteration of this show, Ridiculousness, used to be my background when I wanted to watch mindless television and giggle at the ridiculous antics on the internet. Now, there’s a food-themed spinoff called Deliciousness, which focuses on food fails. Is this gonna make me laugh or make me mad at the wasted food?! In fact, I’m hungry right now...
... OK, I’m back.
Josiah (Bogota Shorts Film Festival; Upcoming Screening Dates: Dec. 8-15)
First Impressions: Starring Luke Forbes (Crown Heights), Josiah “examines issues inside the creative process of a casting room, excavating unconscious stereotyping and complex power dynamics based on race, class and gender.” Also, this film is now Oscar-qualifying.
First Impressions: Skylan Brooks (The Darkest Minds, Southpaw) and Zolee Griggs (Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Public Disturbance) co-star in this film about a couple of teens who help out this white dude from another dimension and they all go on a “quest to wipe out the local drug syndicate and its vicious crime boss known as The Manager.”
Khaki Is Not Leather (Episodes Now Streaming at khakisnotleather.com)
First Impressions: I think of Numa Perrier’s Jezebel, which gave us a peek into the world of a cam girl, it looks like this short-form digital series will explore intimacy in the age of the quarantine. The title actually comes from a Nigerian saying that indicates “things are not always what they seem.” “Khaki is Not Leather hopes to bring a new perspective as it explores the ways in which we perform nearness and the ways we live it. Log on. Explore. Connect... But don’t forget to tip,” director Ray Smiling and writer Konyin Ayuba said in a statement. I’m intrigued by how this will be handled—hopefully with care and sex-positivity!
First Impressions: A protégé of Stevie Wonder and producer Jerry Goldstein, Ike White lived quite an interesting life. In the early 1970s, the music prodigy served a life sentence in prison (at the young age of 19), where he recorded an acclaimed album. Wonder successfully lobbied his early release—prompting what folks expected to be a huge music career boost. In actuality, White went off the grid for over 40 years. I’m really intrigued by this doc as I know little to nothing about White.
First Impressions: A spinoff of 9-1-1 starring Angela Bassett, 9-1-1: Lone Star is now in its second season. There are some cast changes, though! Bye-bye Liv Tyler (who exited after the first season), and hello to Gina Torres! Torres will be stepping in as a series regular, portraying Paramedic Capt. Tommy Vega. “I think we’re gonna have some fun together,” Capt. Owen Strand (Rob Lowe) says in the trailer, welcoming Vega. “Oh, you bet we are,” Vega retorts. Oh, snap! Torres is super talented and underrated, so I’m happy for her!
First Impressions: I’m getting film-noir vibes from this one. Making its world premiere at Urbanworld this year, Paradise City is based on true events and “follows three men from different walks of life whose worlds collide when a plot to justify New York City’s counter-terrorism campaign against homegrown extremists is uncovered.” Rapper Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones stars in the film.
First Impressions: Essence Atkins is making her directorial debut with this film and it’s full of Black-ass hijinks involving the in-laws of a newlywed couple celebrating their first Christmas as husband and wife. The film stars BJ Britt (Being Mary Jane, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Brittany Hall (Ballers, Satisfaction), Carl Anthony Payne II (Martin, 5th Ward), and Christopher B. Duncan (Black Lightning, The Jamie Foxx Show).
White Eye (Other Israel Film Festival; Screening Dates: Dec. 3-10)
First Impressions: Winning Best Narrative Short at both the SXSW Film Festival and Urbanworld Film Festival this year, White Eye chronicles the harsh realities of undocumented immigrants on the run.
Revelations Reimagined (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre via YouTube and Facebook; Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET)
First Impressions: We’ve been happy to report about Alvin Ailey’s upcoming virtual season and we’re getting closer to the launch! Celebrating 60 years of the beloved American masterpiece Revelations, Alvin Ailey presents Revelations Reimagined for its opening night. Celebrity guests scheduled to premiere are Sterling K. Brown, Jasmine Guy, Jillian Hervey of Lion Babe, Nigel Lythgoe, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Phylicia Rashad, Shonda Rhimes, Lynn Whitfield, Vanessa Williams, Jeffrey Wright and more. Wow!!
Plus, if you’re looking for some digital content to watch over the long weekend, get into By Black, a new SoulPancake series serving as a “fun and informative guide on a road to Black equity and inspire people all over the world to support Black-owned businesses,” hosted by X Mayo (a writer on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah). You can watch the first episode here.
Have a wonderful, socially-distanced and safe Thanksgiving weekend, y’all! ‘Til next week!