A list of new releases that we are ready for this summer.
Green Book (Australian release in late January)
Set in the deep south in the 1960’s, Green Book follows the tour of African-American pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his Italian-American driver and bodyguard, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen). The film shows the development of an unlikely friendship between two men who are confronted by racism and danger during their journey.
Green Book is based on the true story of Don Shirley and Tony Lip, written from interviews with and letters by Tony Lip. The film is named after The Negro Motorist Green Book, which was a guidebook used between the 1930’s and 1960’s for African-American travellers to find restaurants and motels that would be safe for them and accommodate them. Green Book is a crowd-pleaser and has received a generally positive reception, with numerous awards and nominations already under its belt. I am particularly excited to see Mahershala Ali’s performance as the dignified and talented Shirley.
The Hate U Give (Australian release in late January)
Amandla Stenberg stars in The Hate U Give as Starr Carter, a 16-year-old student who witnesses a police shooting. Starr lives a double life where she hides black mannerisms around her white friends and boyfriend at her private school, and avoids using white phrases when she is in her black neighbourhood. After witnessing the fatal police shooting of her childhood friend, Khalil, she faces pressure from both of the worlds she inhabits.
The Hate U Give is directed by George Tillman Jr. and adapted from the 2017 Young Adult novel of the same name by Angie Thomas. I am excited to see how this film brings the Black Lives Matter movement and related discourses to the Young Adult genre and its audience.
If Beale Street Could Talk (Australian release in February)
If Beale Street Could Talk is Barry Jenkin’s latest release, following 2016’s Moonlight. Based on the James Baldwin novel of the same name, the film tells the story of 19-year-old Tish (KiKi Layne) and her fiancé, 22-year-old Fonny (Stephan James). The majority of the film is set in 1970’s Harlem, where Fonny is in jail for a crime he did not commit. Tish and Fonny’s families try everything they can to get Fonny’s freedom in a unforgiving and unjust world.
If Beale Street Could Talk has been nominated for numerous awards, with Regina King winning Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes for her performance as Tish’s mother, Sharon. This promises to be a beautiful and visually stunning film with as much anguish and despair as romance.
Siempre Bruja (Netflix release in February)
In this Netflix original series, an Afro-Colombian witch from the 1600’s is transported to the 21st century. Angely Gaviria stars as Carmen, a 19-year old woman and slave who falls in love with a white man in 1646. When she is sent to be burned at the stake, a wizard offers her salvation by giving her the ability to travel into the future. In present-day Cartagena, Carmen struggles to adapt to modern life, and she soon discovers that once a witch, always a witch.
The series is based on the novel Yo, Bruja by Isidora Chacón, and is set to be part young adult fantasy, part coming-of-age drama and part historical drama. Siempre Bruja delves into the history of the persecution of black witches in Colombia, and is the first Latin American Netflix original production with a black lead.