Inspired by a true story about a black college graduate forced to serve probation after the 1965 Watts riots at an all-white seminary that wants black followers not leaders. Encouraged by ...
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Inspired by a true story about a black college graduate forced to serve probation after the 1965 Watts riots at an all-white seminary that wants black followers not leaders. Encouraged by the seminary president, Alan Beckett, to break the color line while Prof. Kate Allison, the former missionary, remains skeptical and aloof, Richard Kelly nears the breaking point when he meets Samuel, an elderly ex-alcoholic janitor who lives in the basement of his dormitory. As Samuel guides Richard through the trials of racism and the personal life haunts him, he undergoes a transformation that forces him to choose between his dreams and his destiny. Written by
I saw this last month at the 2009 Palm Springs International Film Festival. This marks the debut feature film of writer/director Mark Young who was at my screening for an audience Q&A. following the 1965 Watts riots, Richard Kelly (Cedric Sanders), a young black man with a promising career ahead of him in the corporate world finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and is sentenced to serve probation at an all-white seminary that is looking to break the color barrier. The president of the seminary is Alan Beckett (William Devane) who is not looking for black church leaders of the future but simply black followers to break the color barrier at his school and help woo financial support for a large campus building extension from a philanthropic benefactor. Kelly reluctantly agrees to attend so he can get it over with and eventually get back on track to his job offer in the corporate world with a large firm. He, of course is met with prejudice and resistance by the other students. He finds a friend and life coach in the school grounds caretaker and building janitor Samuel Benton (Louis Gossett Jr.) With Lauren Holly as professor and former missionary Kate Allison this has an excellent cast in Gosset, Devane and Holly but the script is a little weak and clichéd and Sanders in the lead role is over the top at times and very weak at other times. It's an interesting story based on the true life experiences of Rev. Dr. Charles Marks who was the inspiration for the Richard Kelly character and inspired writer/director Young to craft the story after he heard Marks speak at at young's church several years ago. It's a good film for a first time director but I wouldn't expect this to be a box office draw. It would make a good TV movie, especially during black history month, and I would expect to see it eventually on something like BET, Hallmark, AMC or the Lifetime movies channels and I would give it a 7.0 out of 10.
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