Ava DuVernay - On Ownership and Self-Distribution of Movies

Kareem Mortimer - Writer/Director of Children of God

Con Funk Shun - Ffun (Live In Philly)

Tommy Davidson - On Celebrity, TMZ and Materialism


Thanks to everyone who came out in the past week in support of Dennis Cooper’s indie feature THE HEART SPECIALIST.  Dennis just emailed me today.  The run so far has been successful enough to extend into a third week at The UA RiverView, Franklin Mills, The Pearl and AMC Cherry Hill.

Remember, if you send in your ticket stub from any screening of the Heart Specialist in any part of the country, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a signed poster.

Reelblack Ticket Stub Contest
PO Box 12302
Philadelphia, PA 19119

If you’ve had the chance to see the film already, we encourage you to share your thoughts on the film on our Facebook and/or Meetup pages.

www.facebook.com/reelblack  www.meetup.com/reelblack.

Grassroots support has be critical.  Keep spreading the word and make this film a hit.

Win A Copy Of THE COLOR PURPLE on Blu-Ray

Reelblack is giving ONE LUCKY FAN the chance to win a brand new copy of the just-released COLOR PURPLE Blue Ray DVD.  Newly remastered and containing a 40 page Blu-Ray booklet plus hours of bonus materials it can be yours by sending an email WITH YOUR FULL NAME IN THE BODY OF THE EMAIL AND THE PHRASE “COLOR PURPLE BLU-RAY” IN THE SUBJECT LINE to  contests@reelblack.com.  Winner will be notified the first week of February.  Good luck!

10 Movie Recommendations

Still Bill

STILL BILL is an intimate portrait of soul legend Bill Withers, best known for his classics “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lean On Me,” “Lovely Day,” “Grandma’s Hands,” and “Just the Two of Us.”

With his soulful delivery and warm, heartfelt sincerity, Withers has written the songs that continue to resonate deeply within the fabric of our times.

Available at


Tupac The Lost Prison Tapes

As Tupac’s interviewer announces, ‘Tupac, this interview is not about your trial, or your court appeals it is about Tupac, the inner man, then, and now.’

Featuring an uncut and never-before-seen interview at the Clinton Correctional Facility, TUPAC UNCENSORED AND UNCUT: THE LOST PRISON TAPES presents a raw look into Tupac’s world, as the rapper riffs on topics ranging from his involvement with gang life to prisons in America to his relationship with his mother. What emerges is a moving self-portrait of an artist who sees himself as fundamentally misunderstood: He may have diagnosed thug life, but he didn’t invent it, and he is determined to uplift not destroy the black community.

Capturing the intensity and passion of a fierce talent, TUPAC UNCENSORED AND UNCUT: THE LOST PRISON TAPES offers a glimpse inside the mind of the enigmatic artist whose music is, in his own words, ‘all about life.’

Of Boys And Men

A drama set on the West side of Chicago Of Boys and Men is about the journey of a family after a husband loses his wife in a fatal accident and has to raise his three children on his own. Robert Townsend stars as the patriarch of the family, devastated when his wife (played by Angela
Basset) is killed in a senseless auto accident. Reeling with grief, each family member must find courage and vision to carry on, ultimately eager to do the mother proud. The story is seen through the eyes of the youngest son, who discovers through the loss of his mother what it means to be a man.  Directed by Carl Seaton (One Week).
From Warner Home Video.  Available from Amazon.com.


Idris Elba portrays Malcolm Gray, a decorated anti-terrorist black-ops soldier. When a military effort to tackle an arms dealer ends in Gray’s capture and torture, he later finds himself back in his Brooklyn apartment struggling to overcome the effects of severe paranoia and anxiety. While isolated, he reflects on the inconsistencies of the assignment gone wrong and begins to question the loyalty of his own brother, a senator on the verge of a presidential campaign.  From Codeblack Entertainment.

Luther (BBC Series)

Idris Elba (The Wire, American Gangster) stars as Detective John Luther in this thrilling new crime series from BBC America. A self-destructive near-genius, Luther might just be as dangerous as the depraved criminals he hunts. Luther follows his own moral code as much as the rules of criminal law. But he quickly becomes locked in a lethal battle of wits with Alice (Ruth Wilson, The Prisoner, Jane Eyre), a beautiful, highly intelligent mass murderer, and his decision-making process becomes increasingly murky. The strain begins to tell as he’s drawn deeper and deeper into a series of horrific murders, and the shadow of a former case threatens to bring him down. Forced to face his own capacity for violence, he struggles with why his wife left him and what draws him to Alice. As the stakes get higher and more personal, Luther’s lonely path pulls him towards the very edge of temptation. Is he a force for good or a man hell bent on self-destruction? Available from Warner Home Video.


In the face of rising crime rates and gun violence, the Detroit Police launches a full-scale war against gun runners. With the cooperation of the Feds they target a criminal named Rich (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) and his arms operation. When a gun exchange goes bad and Rich’s old friend Angel (Val Kilmer), steps up big time and saves his life, they form a bond that makes his supplier and lover, Gabriella (AnnaLynne McCord) paranoid. But there is a snitch in the group and Gabriella’s biggest deal goes bad only to have an even bigger secret revealed, one that rocks Rich to his core.  From Image Entertainment.

White Wedding

Set against South Africa’s breathtaking landscapes, WHITE WEDDING is a high-spirited modern day road comedy about love, commitment, intimacy, friendship, and the unbelievable obstacles that can get in the way of a fairy-tale ending.
Ayanda (Zandie Msutwana) is just days away from her lifelong dream of a modern ‘white wedding,’ complete with a dazzling dress, dozens of bridesmaids, a flamboyant wedding planner and large reception at a fancy hotel. The only problem is that her husband-to-be, the sweet, committed Elvis (Kenneth Nkosi), is 1,000 miles away with his childhood friend and best-man Tumi (Rapulana Seiphemo).  From Image Entertainment.

Mississippi Dammned

Mississippi Damned could be the most acclaimed film of 2009-that you’ve never heard of.  Tina Mabry’s hard edged debut stars Tessa Thompson (most recently seen as the Dance Student in FOR COLORED GIRLS) as a young woman in a small rural town that harbors a secret.

This is a challenging film.  Beautifully photographed and well acted, it proved difficult to find a distributor despite the success of similar films like PRECIOUS and BALLAST.  Producers Morgan’s Mark have decided to self-distribute the project.

If you missed it at Phildelphia Cinefest’s FADE TO BLACK showcase last year, here’s your chance to own the special edition DVD.

Visit http://mississippidamned.com/ to view the trailer and purchase  the DVD.

Everyday Black Man

When Claire meets Malik she is instantly swept off her feet by this charming young spiritual leader. But when Malik’s true colors are revealed, her father Moses must protect both her and their community from danger. Available Feb. 1 from EOne Entertainment.


Ten year-old Sandra is distinctly African looking. Her parents, Abraham and Sannie, are white Afrikaners, unaware of their black ancestry. They are shopkeepers in a remote area of the Eastern Transvaal and, despite Sandra’s mixed-race appearance, have lovingly brought her up as their white little girl. By the time she is 17, Sandra realises she is never going to be accepted by the white community. She falls in love with Petrusa black man, the local vegetable seller, and begins an illicit love affair. Abraham threatens to shoot Petrus and disown Sandra. Sannie is torn between her husbands rage and her daughters predicament. Sandra elopes with Petrusto Swaziland. Abraham alerts the police, has them arrested and put in prison. Sandra is told by the local magistrate to go home, but she refuses. After many more years of hardship and struggle, the chances of that reunion ever happening seem remote. But Sandra carries her father’s advice with her wherever she goes: “Never give up!” Skin is a story of family, forgiveness and the triumph of the human spirit.
Available February 1 from EOne Entertainment.


This high-stakes action thriller stars Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Idris Elba, Jay Hernandez, Michael Ealy and Tip “T.I.” Harris. After pulling off a spectacular series of brilliantly planned bank robberies, a notorious team of professional criminals attempts one last heist, a once-in-a-lifetime job with a $25 million payoff. And all that stands in their way is a cop hell-bent on doing whatever it takes to solve the case and bring the Takers down. Chris Brown and Hayden Christensen costar in an adrenaline-rushed thrill ride packed with twists and turns.  From Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Oscar Nominees Announced

It’s Oscar time!

Below, check out who’s nominated for some of the most prominent Academy Awards of the 2011 Oscars. Tune in to see who wins February 27 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Best Picture

Best Actress

  • Annette Bening (”The Kids Are All Right”)
  • Nicole Kidman (”Rabbit Hole”)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (”Winter’s Bone”)
  • Natalie Portman (”Black Swan”)
  • Michelle Williams (”Blue Valentine”)

Best Actor

  • Javier Bardem (”Biutiful”)
  • Jeff Bridges (”True Grit”)
  • Jesse Eisenberg (”The Social Network”)
  • Colin Firth (”The King’s Speech”)
  • James Franco (”127 Hours”)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams (”The Fighter”)
  • Helena Bonham Carter (”The King’s Speech”)
  • Melissa Leo (”The Fighter”)
  • Hailee Steinfeld (”True Grit”)
  • Jacki Weaver (”Animal Kingdom”)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Christian Bale (”The Fighter”)
  • John Hawkes (”Winter’s Bone”)
  • Jeremy Renner (”The Town”)
  • Mark Ruffalo (”The Kids Are All Right”)
  • Geoffrey Rush (”The King’s Speech”)

CLICK HERE for more Oscar news.

Best Director

  • Darren Aronofsky (”Black Swan”)
  • Joel and Ethan Coen (”True Grit”)
  • David Fincher (”The Social Network”)
  • Tom Hooper (”The King’s Speech”)
  • David O’Russell (”The Fighter”)

Best Animated Feature Film

  • “How to Train Your Dragon”
  • “The Illusionist”
  • “Toy Story 3″

Best Original Screenplay

  • Mike Leigh (”Another Year”)
  • David Seidler (”The King’s Speech”)
  • Christopher Nolan(”Inception”)
  • Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg (”The Kids Are All Right”)
  • Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson (”The Fighter”)

    Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy (”127 Hours”)
  • Aaron Sorkin (”The Social Network”)
  • Joel and Ethan Coen (”True Grit”)
  • Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini (”Winter’s Bone”)
  • John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich (”Toy Story 3″)

Best Foreign Language Film

  • “Biutiful” (Mexico)
  • “Dogtooth” (Greece)
  • “In a Better World” (Denmark)
  • ” Incendies” (Canada)
  • “Outside the Law” (Algeria)

CLICK HERE for the full list of Oscar nominees.

Win A Copy of STILL BILL on DVD

Reelblack is celebrating this Tuesday’s DVD release of STILL BILL: THE BILL WITHERS STORY with a special contest.  You can win one of three copies of this award winning documentary courtesy of New Video.

STILL BILL is an intimate portrait of soul legend Bill Withers, best known for his classics “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lean On Me,” “Lovely Day,” “Grandma’s Hands,” and “Just the Two of Us.”

With his soulful delivery and warm, heartfelt sincerity, Withers has written the songs that continue to resonate deeply within the fabric of our times.

Filmmakers Damani Baker and Alex Vlack follow Withers and offer a unique and rare look inside the world of this fascinating man. Through concert footage, journeys to his birthplace and interviews with music and sports legends, his family and closest friends, STILL BILL presents the story of an artist who has written some of the most beloved songs in our time and who truly understands the heart and soul of a man.

DVD Features

Interviews with Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Graham Nash; Musical Performances of hit Bill Withers songs “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket adn “Who Is He and What Is He to You” by Living Colour lead singer Corey Glover

Two Ways To Win:

We’ll be giving away two copies vie email sweepstakes.  Simply send an email with your FULL NAME IN THE BODY OF THE EMAIL AND THE PHRASE “STILL BILL CONTEST” IN THE SUBJECT LINE to Contests@reelblack.com.  Winners will be notified on February 1.

We’ll also be giving away one copy of the DVD at our First Weekend Field Trip in support of MOOZ-LUM the afternoon of February 12.  More details to follow.

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THIS FILM?  Amazon.com is offering STILL BILL for pre-order now at over 50% off.  Order it here.

Announcing THE HEART SPECIALIST Ticket Stub Sweepstakes

THE HEART SPECIALIST is a modern comedy about the everyday perils of first year medical residents at a shabby south Florida hospital. Dr. Z (Wood Harris) is the chief resident, who teaches the trainees how to save lives and not take themselves too seriously, all the while hiding a chilling secret of his own.  It stars Wood Harris, Zoe Saldana (Premium, Avatar, Constellation)  and Brian White (I Can Do Bad All By Myself) and is written and directed by former physician Dennis Cooper (Chicago Hope).  It opened in over 500 theaters nationwide last weekend and deserves your support.

Reelblack led an outing to check it out last weekend and we discovered a charming comedy full of engaging characters and situations.  Wood Harris and Zoe Saldana have chemistry to burn. Its very entertaining, without every falling back on stereotypes.   Everyone seems to have a lot of fun, displaying range in roles conventional film and TV would never offer.   The cameos by Nephew Tommy, Marla Gibbs and Jasmine Guy are delicious.

The Heart Specialist  is a fun, irreverent ride buoyed by great performances.  It represents quality independent film and delivers the goods outside the Hollywood box.

To encourage folks to go out and see this movie in theaters–not on bootleg, Reelblack is holding a ticket stub sweepstakes.  The grand prize is a full sized poster for The Heart Specialist, signed by filmmaker Dennis Cooper.

For your chance to win send your ticket stub from any showing of The Heart Specialist, from any theater in the country to

Reelblack Presents
Heart Specialist Contest
PO Box 12302
Philadelphia, PA 19119

Hurry!   Many of the limited engagements for the film are ending this week.

In Philly it’s playing at The Pearl, Riverview, Franklin Mills, 69th Street and AMC Cherry Hill.

To find the theater closest to you and to view the film’s trailer, visit


Winner will be announced on January 31, 2011.


Here’s a review for the film

THE HEART SPECIALIST **** Four Stars (out of four)

Move over Tyler Perry, there’s a new comedic voice in African-American film, if the immensely enjoyable new movie “The Heart Specialist” is any indication.

The ensemble cast is just terrific in this funny and sexy romantic comedy about two young doctors at a South Florida hospital. “The Heart Specialist” stars Zoe Saldana as a free-spirited painter who’s the girlfriend of Dr. Z, a teacher of medicine played by Wood Harris. And Brian White is a new trainee, a lifesaver by day and a heartbreaker by night. Dr. Z bets Donna that he can teach the “playa,” not just about medicine but about true love - the special kind he shares with her.

Due to the challenges of financing independent films, “The Heart Specialist” took almost four years to complete and this first-class entertainment was worth the effort. Where stereotypes normally prevail, it credibly renders contemporary African-American life. It’s funny without being clownish; sexy without being crude. If Mr. Perry wants to champion another class-act in progressive black cinema, as he did with “Precious,” then “The Heart Specialist” seems the right choice. Smart, sophisticated and hilarious, it’s a real charmer, filled with humor and heart.

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