The Urbanworld Film Festival has announced their 2019 programming slate and it’s filled with must-see films.
This year’s slate of 78 selections and 7 spotlight selections sees intersectional representation take center stage, elevating the Festival’s consistent mission to highlight phenomenal content from women and creators of color.
“Each year we strive to expand our programming slate to expose stories, themes and characters that have been under-represented in our world. This year is no exception,” Urbanworld Film Festival Director Gabrielle Glore said in a statement. “What is most exciting to see is the continued elevation of quality manifested across our content creators’ work, as we celebrate their creativity and craft.”
Scroll through for a look at just a few of the films and programming we can’t wait to check out. For more information, including a look at the full lineup and how you can get tickets, visit the official UrbanWorld Film Festival website HERE.
Just Mercy is the powerful true story of Harvard-educated lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) as he goes to Alabama to defend the disenfranchised and wrongly condemned — including Walter McMillian (JamieFoxx), a man sentenced to death despite evidence proving his innocence. Bryan fights tirelessly for Walter with the system stacked against them.
FIRST WIVES CLUB
BET Networks and Tyler Perry Studios’ new joint venture BET+ will debut one of its first series, Tracy Oliver’s “First Wives Club. After neglecting their friendship, best friends Ari (Ryan Michelle Bathe), Hazel (Jill Scott) and Bree (Michelle Buteau) reunite to help each other through rough patches in their lives. Together, they navigate music superstar Hazel’s tabloid-ridden divorce, campaign manager Ari’s unsatisfying marriage and orthopedic surgeon Bree’s cheating husband. Along the way, the women learn that as long as they have each other, there’s nothing they can’t do.
Based on True Events; Jason, the oldest of two boys loves his home but battles with wanting to change the deteriorating community and the desire to leave it behind. Tension turns to anger as Jason and his brother John battle over the decision to embrace the drug culture while simultaneously endangering John’s daughter. Her symbolic gesture will change the future of the family and change her father’s SUBSTANCE.
Amma spends the day getting braids in an Afro-Caribbean hair salon. It’s full of fun, sheen spray, gossip and laughter, but how will she deal with the casual homophobia?
SEVEN MOTHERS is a love letter to the women who raised Pyer Moss founder, Kerby Jean-Raymond, after his mother’s death. A young boy cries at his mother’s funeral and moves through his grief in touching vignettes, as these seven strong women impart lessons about food, business, fashion, academics, sport, family, and faith. The boy returns to church alongside his “religious mother,” and as he enjoys the gospel choir, he is shattered by a reminder of his mother. That night, his mother appears in his dream, an ethereal figure still watching over him, and finds strength and love in her spirit.
Broadway actor Cynthia Erivo stars in Kasi Lemmons’ inspiring biopic about renowned abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and risked her life to lead others to freedom through the network of safehouses known as the Underground Railroad.
Steve Harmon, a bright, sensitive 17-year-old, stands trial for acting as a lookout during the lethal armed robbery of a Harlem bodega. Before his arrest, he was an honors student and aspiring filmmaker. Now, Steve is seen as just another young black criminal, assumed guilty and labeled a monster. But Steve and his lawyer declare his innocence and attempt to defy the odds in a bid to win his freedom. Adapted from the award-winning young adult novel “Monster” by Walter Dean Myers, All Rise methodically details how an inquisitive outsider found himself inside of a system stacked against him.
A GREAT DAY IN HIP HOP REVISITED
A Great Day in Hip Hop Revisited is a documentary short about a magical day in Black music history. On September 29, 1998, the legendary photographer Gordon Parks shot over 200 MCs, DJs and dancers for the cover of XXL magazine. The photograph he took was taken in front of the same building in Harlem on 126th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues, that the original A Great Day in Harlem jazz photo was taken in front of in 1959. Rakim, Slick Rick, Mose Def, Questlove, Da Brat, MC Shan, and Fat Joe are among some of the rappers seen.
The “Black-ish” franchise expands with its newest spinoff “Mixed-ish,” coming to ABC this fall. Rainbow Johnson recounts her experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the ‘80s and the dilemmas they face to acclimate in the suburbs while staying true to themselves. Bow’s parents Paul and Alicia decide to move from a hippie commune to the suburbs to better provide for their family. As her parents struggle with the challenges of their new life, Bow and her siblings navigate a mainstream school in which they’re perceived as neither black nor white.
The HBO documentary THE APOLLO, helmed by Oscar- and Emmy-winning director Roger Ross Williams, chronicles the unique history and contemporary legacy of New York City’s landmark Apollo Theater. Over the last 85 years, what began as a refuge for marginalized artists has emerged as a hallowed hall of black excellence and empowerment.
The feature-length film weaves together archival clips of music, comedy and dance performances from an astonishing list of legendary talents that includes Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Richard Pryor and Lauryn Hill; behind-the-scenes verité footage of the team that makes the theater run; and interviews with such artists as Jamie Foxx, Angela Bassett, Pharrell Williams, Common, Patti LaBelle and Smokey Robinson. Williams also examines the current state of race in America, following the 2018 multi-media adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ best-selling book “Between the World and Me” as it comes together on the theater’s grand stage.
BLACK AND BLUE
This fast-paced action thriller from Screen Gems follows a rookie cop (Academy Award nominee Naomie Harris) who inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam. After realizing that the murder was committed by corrupt cops, she teams up with the one person from her community who is willing to help her (Tyrese
Gibson) as she tries to escape both the criminals out for revenge and the police who are desperate to destroy
the incriminating footage.
THE BIRTH OF DECEIT
A girl returns to her hometown only to find out that the fate of her parents wasn’t what she originally thought it was. Along the way, she befriends a woman who knows more than she’s willing to let on. Ambar and her friend will have to fight for their lives to uncover the truth.