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Kasi Lemmons, actress, writer and director of Langston Hughes' Black Nativity as well as Talk to Me, Eve's Bayou and The Caveman's Valentine will receive a 2014 Athena Film Festival Award in a festival ceremony this February. Other award honorees include philanthropist Sherry Lansing, former Chair and CEO of Paramount Pictures and former President of 20th Century Fox, who will receive The Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award, Keri Putnam, Executive Director of the Sundance Institute, and Callie Khouri, Academy Award winning screenwriter of Thelma and Louise, and creator of the series Nashville. "The women we are »
- Jai Tiggett
Sherry Lansing will receive The Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award at the fourth annual Athena Film Festival, the festival announced today, along with the names of the other recipients of The Athena Film Festival Awards. The awards honor extraordinary female actors, directors, and producers for their leadership and creative accomplishments within the film industry.The other award recipients include Keri Putnam, Executive Director of the Sundance Institute; Callie Khouri, Academy Award winning screenwriter and creator of the series "Nashville;" and Kasi Lemmons, actress, director and writer of "Black Nativity," as well as "Talk to Me," "Eve's Bayou" and "The Caveman's Valentine." As former Chair and CEO of Paramount Pictures and former President of 20th Century Fox, Lansing has been involved with the production, marketing, and distribution of more than 200 films.The Festival has also announced the newly created Athena List which will highlight between 3-5 »
- James Hiler
The fourth annual Athena Film Festival, focused on women and leadership and headed by Indiewire’s own Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood, will take place February 6-9, 2014 at Barnard College. This year’s fest will include Q and A sessions with producers and directors, Hollywood conversations and master classes. The 2014 recipients of the Athena Film Festival Awards are philanthropist Sherry Lansing, former Chair and CEO of Paramount Pictures and former President of 20th Century Fox, receiving the Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award; Keri Putnam, Executive Director of the Sundance Institute; Callie Khouri, Academy Award winning screenwriter of “Thelma and Louise” and creator of the series “Nashville”; and Kasi Lemmons, actress, director and writer of “Black Nativity,” T”alk to Me,” “Eve’s Bayou” and “The Caveman’s Valentine.” In addition, the Athena List has been newly created, highlighting between 3-5 completed screenplays with strong leading female »
- Beth Hanna
Presented by Barnard College’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies and Women and Hollywood, the festival will also present awards to Sundance Institute exec director Keri Putnam, “Nashville” creator Callie Khouri and Kasi Lemmons, the helmer and writer behind current release “Black Nativity.”
Former studio exec Lansing scores the lifetime kudo for a career that includes stints as chair and CEO of Paramount Pictures and as prexy of 20th Century Fox.
Also this year the Athena fest inaugurates the Athena List, a roster of three to five unproduced screenplays with strong leading female characters, compiled as a call for more distaff protags on the bigscreen. First round of scripts to make the annual list will be announced during the 2014 festival.
The Athena fest inaugurated »
- Gordon Cox
This reframing of Langston Hughes's gospel play is perfect, heartwarming festive fare
Reading on mobile? Click here to watch the trailer
You'd have to be pretty full of seasonal humbug to resist this spirited screen homage to Langston Hughes's "gospel song play" which was first performed off-Broadway in 1961, and has since become a seasonal staple. Jacob Latimore plays Baltimore teen Langston, sent to stay with his estranged grandparents in New York when his mother receives an eviction notice. Uncomfortably ensconced with the proud Reverend Cornell Cobbs (Forest Whitaker) and his glowing wife Aretha (Angela Bassett), Langston scorns the open doors of the church in favour of the mean streets of Harlem, wherein he hopes to solve his mother's financial woes and discover the truth about his absent father. Kasi Lemmons, who did such a great job directing Eve's Bayou in the 1990s, brings warmth and passion to the unashamedly schmaltzy and contrived proceedings, »
- Mark Kermode
This Ain't California | Nebraska | Frozen | Kill Your Darlings | Oldboy | Powder Room | Homefront | Getaway | The Patience Stone | Big Bad Wolves | Black Nativity | Floating Skyscrapers | Klown | Rough Cut | A Long Way From Home | Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf's
This Ain't California (Tbc)
(Marten Perseil, 2012, Ger) 90 mins
Just as its East German teen subjects took skateboarding behind the Iron Curtain, so this "documentary" smuggles faked footage into its true 1980s history. The result is a fascinating parallel pop-cultural history with a moving (but imaginary) human centre. Working out what's true and what's not only adds to the fun.
Stubborn old Dern and son take a quixotic road trip back into family, and American, history.
Disney's classy, sparkly assault on the Christmas holidays, with wintry vistas, musical numbers and a sister-powered fairytale. »
- Steve Rose
Women filmmakers of color don't get that many times at bat in our myopic movie world. Which makes the four-feature output of Kasi Lemmons since her breakout with 1997 "Eve's Bayou" even more remarkable. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Lemmons moved to Boston with her mother when her academic parents divorced. She studied drama and film at Nyu, UCLA and the New School of Social Research, where she met her husband of 18 years in a dance class, fellow actor Vondie Curtis-Hall. Many of Lemmons' films have dealt with artists, teachers and musicians. "I am drawn to music," she says. "It was always important to me, like poetry and art are important to me."Producer Celine Rattray first suggested the project to her. "Look no further," Lemmons told her. "Please let it be me." Lemmons has enjoyed a long relationship with Fox Searchlight, where she developed a mystery about a black woman »
- Anne Thompson
★★☆☆☆Towering pieces of work, be they literary, theatrical or cinematic, are often subject to reincarnation in a variety of mediums, such is their enduring quality. Originally a stage play created by Harlem Renaissance figure Langston Hughes, Black Nativity (2013) is the latest example of this frequent occurrence. Whilst writer and director Kasi Lemmons should be commended for being able to retain the essence of the classic narrative, the 21st century update suffers from extremely heavy-handed execution, ultimately resulting in that fact that his film doesn't resonate quite as well as it might have done given its seasonal release.
- CineVue UK
Soulful, Motown numbers always manage to suit the mood during the festive period, as there’s just something about this melodic, feel-good music that alleviates you in the bitterly cold wintertime. Therefore, expectations were suitably raised for Kasi Lemmons’ Black Nativity, a Christmas musical celebrating African-American culture. However sadly this concept is let down by a film that is needlessly melodramatic, and unbearably mawkish.
We delve into the life of troubled youngster Langston (Jacob Latimore), who is sent away for Christmas, while his mother (Jennifer Hudson) strives on making enough money over the holidays to ensure they don’t get evicted from their Baltimore flat. Instead, Langston is to spend the foreseeable future with his estranged grandparents, Reverend Cornell Cobbs (Forest Whitaker) and Aretha (Angela Bassett), who live in a swanky, upper class abode in New York. Though completely resistant to the trip, and desperate to find a way home, »
- Stefan Pape
Middling songs in this contemporary Christmas musical, but points for casting Tyrese Gibson as the Angel Gabriel
An eccentric one, this: writer-director Kasi Lemmons has deployed Langston Hughes' off-Broadway pageant as the centrepiece of a contemporary musical about a streetwise teen enduring Christmas in New York. Beneath middling songs – walloped out in the artless, post-Cowell manner – there's something faintly touching about its vision of broken homes; it's when our boy is forcibly shown the light that the gap between heavenly ambition and desultory execution becomes too vast for a simple leap of faith to bridge. Points for dogged credulity: whether trying to pass off Times Square as Judea or Tyrese "Fast & Furious" Gibson as the Angel Gabriel, it sincerely believes it. You, of course, are at liberty not to.
theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this »
- Mike McCahill
The Writers Guild of America has remained tough on qualifying scripts for its screenplay awards, excluding more than a dozen high-profile scripts, including John Ridley’s screenplay for “12 Years a Slave.”
The guild’s restrictions — far more rigorous than other guilds — require that scripts be produced under WGA jurisdiction or under a collective bargaining agreement in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand or the U.K. The WGA had no immediate comment on the exclusions, but the restrictions on eligibility are a longstanding practice at the guild.
Other notable screenplays excluded include Peter Morgan’s screenplay for “Rush”; Ryan Coogler’s script for “Frutivale Station”; “Philomena,” written by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” penned by William Nicholson.
Voting to determine the WGA’s nominees launched Tuesday on 95 eligible screenplays — 41 in the adapted category and 54 in the original category. The guild’s restrictions also require that the »
- Dave McNary
Black Nativity (2013) Film Review, a movie written & directed by Kasi Lemmons and starring Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Jacob Latimore, Mary J. Blige, Nasar Jones (Nas), and Jennifer Hudson. I went into Black Nativity completely blind and, despite some circumstantial evidence, was not expecting a musical. It came as a [...]
Continue reading: Film Review: Black Nativity (2013): Hope, Heartbreak, Ageless Harmony »
- Sam Joseph
Move over, Frosty. A quixotic snowman who longs to experience summer handily steals the show in “Frozen,” Disney’s 53rd in-house animated feature and one of its most classical, with a Hans Christian Andersen pedigree, a full-fledged showtune score and little of the ironic humor that has become the lingua franca of most contemporary toons. But this always enjoyable tale of mysterious magic, imperiled princesses and square-jawed men of action proves longer on striking visuals than on truly engaging or memorable characters. With the family crowd pretty much to itself this holiday season, “Frozen” should generate considerable box-office heat, if not quite the same level of critical and audience affection that attended the superior “Tangled” and “Wreck-It Ralph.”
— Scott Foundas
Read the full review
- Variety Staff
Adapted from Langston Hughes’ stage play of the same name, Kasi Lemmons’ Black Nativity tells the story of a young boy (played by relative newcomer Jacob Latimore) who is sent to spend the holidays with his estranged relatives in New York City after his mother is evicted from their Baltimore apartment. While there, he undergoes an eye-opening, inspirational journey of sorts and learns about some of life’s most important values, like faith, family and healing.
It’s a sweet, heartwarming film filled with some great musical numbers and an all-star ensemble that really gives it their all. And don’t worry, those who were impressed with the play won’t be disappointed with how the film adaptation turned out.
- Macario Hernandez
Fire or ice? That’s the question that millions of moviegoers will answer this weekend at the box office as Disney’s animated musical Frozen goes head-to-head with record-breaking behemoth The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Will the family film be able to snuff out the blockbuster? Probably not. But it’s still set to do major business over the Wednesday-to-Sunday period. Here’s how things may shake out over the five-day frame:
1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – $91 million
Lionsgate’s $130 million sequel has lit up the box office since its arrival last Friday, and it’s poised to blitz past the $200 million mark on Wednesday, »
- Grady Smith
From Langston Hughes adaptation "Black Nativity" to Disney's animated musical comedy "Frozen," there is plenty of family fare to see this holiday weekend, unless you want to catch up on awards contenders. Starring an acclaimed Idris Elba, the Nelson Mandela biopic "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" also opens, as does Spike Lee's beefed up "Oldboy" remake, panned by most critics. Trailers after the jump.Kasi Lemmons' exuberant reinvention of the classic holiday musical "Black Nativity" boasts an impressive ensemble, from Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett as old-fashioned Harlem parents to the fabulous Jennifer Hudson as their breakaway child, who sends her son home for the holidays. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee's epic icy adventure "Frozen" marks the glorious return of the Disney princess musical, this time voiced by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel (of Broadway fame), Jonathan Groff and Ciaran Hinds. It looks to be a surefire »
- Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio
Langston Hughes is a modern giant, a significant artist who worked as a poet and a playwright and whose work was an important part of this country's understanding of the black experience. One of his most enduring creations was "The Black Nativity," a re-imagined musical take on the traditional Nativity pageant, complete with music and dance, and it is still being performed all over the world today. Adapting it to film would seem like a strange proposition, but writer/director Kasi Lemmons approached it as an opportunity, not a challenge, and the result is an earnest, heartfelt family drama that is overwrought »
- Drew McWeeny
It’s Christmas time at the multiplex once again, this time a bit closer to the end of November. And like that early starter, this film has primarily an African-American cast. But unlike the “Best Man” group, this one’s a bit darker in tone. The folks in this new film aren’t frolicking in an NFL-funded grand mansion in New Jersey. For this new story we head to NYC, Harlem to be exact. Well, though the earlier flick did tackle the holiday beyond the colored lights and presents, the newest release spells it out right in the title. Let’s embrace the spirit of the season in Black Nativity.
Before we head to those cold Harlem streets, the film begins on the mean streets of Baltimore. There we meet a teenager named Langston (Jacob Latimore). He’s a good kid living with his single mother Naima (Jennifer Hudson), but times are tough. »
- Jim Batts
Kasi Lemmons’s 1997 directorial debut Eve’s Bayou, an intensely atmospheric coming-of-age tale that mixed family drama, sexual frankness, and even some supernatural elements, instantly pegged her as one of the more unique voices in American film. Since then, she has continued to create an odd, arresting body of work, including the offbeat mystery-drama-fantasy The Caveman’s Valentine and the radio D.J. biopic Talk to Me, starring Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Now Lemmons has arrived with her boldest work to date: a film version of Langston Hughes's play The Black Nativity, incorporating the Christ tale, a contemporary coming-of-age story, shout-outs to the Harlem Renaissance and Martin Luther King Jr., and musical numbers that run the gamut of styles, from Gospel to hip-hop. She spoke to us about why it took so long to get the film made, the challenges of making a musical, and her approach to adapting this offbeat material. »
- Bilge Ebiri
Kasi Lemmons, director of Eve's Bayou and Talk to Me, chose a play by poet Langston Hughes as the basis for her new movie. Black Nativity is first and foremost a musical, featuring original pieces of music as well as new arrangements of familiar hymns and carols. Lemmons even co-wrote some of the songs, with Raphael Saadiq producing the music (he shares the "Music by" credit with composer Laura Karpman).
The music is the best thing about Black Nativity. Without the songs it would likely be a far more disappointing movie, as you can see plot lines coming from a mile away. There are a couple times when a character says something that punches you in the gut with its earnestness, but otherwise the story is as ridiculous as it is predictable.
Langston, a fatherless kid from Baltimore played by young Jacob Latimore, is sent to live with grandparents he's never met. »
- Elizabeth Stoddard
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