Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz - The Interrupters (In Philadelphia September 9)

RBTV’s Mike D. caught up with filmmakers STEVE JAMES (Hoop Dreams) and ALEX KOTLOWITZ to discuss their new documentary, THE INTERRUPTERS.  Opens in Philadelphia September 9.  For a list of cities and playdates, visit

The Interrupters tells the moving and surprising stories of three Violence Interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. From acclaimed director Steve James and bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz, this film is an unusually intimate journey into the stubborn persistence of violence in our cities. Shot over the course of a year out of Kartemquin Films, The Interrupters captures a period in Chicago when it became a national symbol for the violence in our cities. During that period, the city was besieged by high-profile incidents, most notably the brutal beating of Derrion Albert, a Chicago High School student, whose death was caught on videotape.


Comedian/Actor Godfrey will headline at Philly’s HELIUM COMEDY CLUB 8/24-8/27, 2011. Coincidentally, his first one hour comedy special, BLACK BY ACCIDENT, will premiere Saturday August 27 at 11pm on Comedy Central.In this exclusive clip, he shares his passion for Action movies by running down his TOP 5 ACTION HEROES. Let us know if you agree. Special thanks: The Comedy Cellar.

“Godfrey: Black By Accident” — World Premiere
Saturday, August 27 at
11:00 p.m.
Godfrey presents his first ever comedy special with the World Premiere of “Godfrey: Black By Accident.” Godfrey is no stranger to the urban landscape and in “Black By Accident” he shares his knowledge on how to deal with the “subway humpers,” why he hates mittens and the perils of “swamp ass.” Don’t miss the side-splitting premiere of “Godfrey: Black By Accident.”


The wait is over.  Ava DuVernay’s amazing narrative feature debut, I WILL FOLLOW is on DVD today.  You can find it at FYE, Best Buy and WalMart as well as Amazon and ITunes.

In case you missed it in theaters, its one of the top independent features of the year, getting a personal “Thumbs Up” from critic Roger Ebert.  I WILL FOLLOW is definitely one you’ll want to add to your collection.

Maye is a success. Hot career. Hot boyfriend. But when her world is turned upside down by tragedy, she must struggle to keep her balance. I Will Follow chronicles a day in the life of a woman at a crossroads, and the twelve people who help her move forward into a brave, new world. The outstanding cast features Salli Richardson-Whitfield (I Am Legend, Antwone Fisher), Omari Hardwick (For Colored Girls), Dijon Talton (Glee), Tracie Thoms (Rent), Michole White (She Hate Me), Blair Underwood (The Event) and Beverly Todd (Crash)


Elizabeth Tillman, Mother of Point of Destination Cafe owner Carroll Tillman passed away on Tuesday August 16 after a brief illness.  Our thoughts and prayers go to Carroll and her family.


Philly songstress JAGUAR WRIGHT is making things happen.  She recently released 2 singles on iTunes called “Switch (Make Change) ft. Peedi Crakk” and “Beautiful.”  She is hosting a live concert event on September 11 at World Cafe Live and she is the subject of STANDING ROOM ONLY, a new webs series focusing on her life and the lives of other Philly artists.  You can check out a brief promo to the series above. For more info on the show, click here.


Reelblack HIGHLY RECOMMENDS you check out two cool shows this week at The Dell East 33rd & Huntington Streets (On Strawberry Mansion Drive by Ridge Avenue – in East Fairmount Park). Tickets are going fast.  Visit to pre-order yours.

FUNK TIL YOU DROP - Breakwater, Mandrill and KC And The Sunshine Band Tonight!
Monday, August 15, 2011 @ 7:30PM Ticket Prices:$55, $35, $30, $20


Clearly one of the most important pioneers of World Music and one of Funk and R&B’s most progressive bands, MANDRILL is one of the most sampled groups of today. They have been introduced to a whole new generation of younger fans who are appreciating, in live concerts and through Internet access, the power and artistry of this band. Mandrill has been voted of the best funk groups of all time and has long been a Philly Favorite. The group considers Philadelphia home away from home.


KC & The Sunshine Band are still as widely popular today as they were when they first danced into the music scene. Harry Wayne Casey - KC for short - developed a unique fusion of R&B and funk, with a hint of a Latin percussion groove. With sales of over 100 million records, nine Grammy nominations, three Grammy Awards and an American Music Award, KC and The Sunshine Band was one of the most progressive bands and is credited with changing the sound of modern pop music! KC & The Sunshine Band will be making their first appearance ever at The Robin Hood Dell East.



Sunday, August 21, 2011 @ 8:00PM  Ticket Prices:$65, $50, $45, $25

Lady B’s 30th Anniversary Celebration Event featuring the who’s who of hip hop. Join Lady B in this Hip Hop Tribute and listen to favorites from Public Enemy, salt N Pepa, Big Daddy Kane, and many others. The list of performers is growing each day!

Reelblack is honored to be producing a special Tribute Video which will be shown at this event.






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Presented by NCM Fathom and Universal Studios Home Entertainment in More Than 475 Select Movie Theaters Nationwide on August 31

including AMC Hamilton 24, AMC Neshaminy 24, AMC Franklin Mills 14, Movies 16, Riverview Plaza, King of Prussia 15, Hamilton Commons 14, Burlington 20, Marketplace at Oaks 24, Warrington Crossing 22, Brandywine Town Center 16, Town Center Plaza

Special Event Includes the Debut of Exclusive Featurette Showcasing the Pop Culture Phenomenon That Redefined the Gangster Genre

Centennial, Colo. – August 1, 2011 – Blasting onto the silver screen with the intensity of its original release nearly 30 years ago, the pop culture phenomenon Scarface, starring Al Pacino and directed by Brian De Palma, returns to movie theaters in a one-night Fathom event on Wednesday, August 31 at 7:30 p.m. local time. Presented by NCM Fathom and Universal Studios Home Entertainment, audiences nationwide will get the opportunity to experience one of the most influential gangster classics ever made like never before — with all-new restored high-definition picture and enhanced audio. Fans who attend this special event will also get an exclusive look at a 20-minute special feature that showcases interviews with popular filmmakers and talent expressing how this epic feature redefined the gangster genre, leaving an enduring influence on cinema.

Tickets for the Scarface Special Event are available at participating theater box offices and online at For a complete list of theater locations and prices, visit the NCM Fathom website (theaters and participants are subject to change). The Scarface Special Event will appear in more than 475 select movie theaters across the country via the new digital cinema projection systems.

“Almost 30 years after its initial release, Scarface remains iconic and stirs passionate responses from audiences around the world,” said Dan Diamond, vice president of NCM Fathom. “Now, fans can experience Scarface like never before in theaters with spectacularly updated visual and sound quality, and never-before-seen elements in an historic, one-night event.”

Scarface is a 1983 American crime drama and masterful collaboration between acclaimed director Brian De Palma and Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Oliver Stone. Produced by Martin Bregman, Academy Award® winner Al Pacino stars as Tony Montana, a Cuban immigrant who finds wealth, power and passion beyond his wildest dreams…at a price he never imagined. Scarface was nominated for three Golden Globe® Awards (including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Score), and was named one of the Top 10 Gangster Films of All Time by the American Film Institute.

This one-night, in-theater event celebrates the first-ever Blu-rayTM release of Scarface on September 6 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Fans of Scarface will enjoy the restored high-definition picture and 7.1 audio plus see exclusive new bonus content that reveals the film’s iconic legacy as one of the greatest crime sagas of all time. For a limited time only, the Scarface Special Limited Edition Blu-rayTM comes with collectible SteelBookTM packaging, 10 exclusive art cards, a digital copy of the film and a DVD of the original 1932 Scarface, making it a must-own addition to every film fan’s library. And, for the ultimate collector and cigar enthusiast, an elegantly hand-crafted Scarface-themed humidor will also be made available in an exclusive, never-before-available, limited edition.


My grandmother, HELEN DENNIS, spent over 25 years as a domestic worker. At age 93, I asked her about some of her experiences. THE HELP is out now in theaters everywhere. Photographed and edited by Mike D. on August 11, 2011.

Reelblack Members Recommend THE HELP

Reelblack invited its Members to review THE HELP. Below are the winning entries:

The movie was great and I would recommend it. My mother is 80 years old and she worked as a domestic when she finished college. This movie speaks to the untold stories of how legions of black women worked under, and lived under, the indignities of being second class citizens. It also speaks to their small victories. This is a must see movie for everyone.
–Carroll Morris

As a kid I spent several years in Alabama. I had first hand experience witnessing members of my family and others who worked for white folks in our community of Lower Peach Tree, Ala. My aunt and her sister would come home with stories of their daily experiences. The movie was pretty much on point. It brought back a lot of memories. I enjoyed it.
–Linda Martin

Help Wanted.

I think they saw the backlash coming. Almost six weeks ago, a studio rep approached me about hosting a screening of THE HELP (which came out in theaters today). As a promoter of Black film, I instantly obliged. It was a no-brainer to have the chance to preview the movie for our membership, and give them a chance to not only see the film, but to talk it up at their jobs, hairdressers and barbershops as something to see in theaters—not on bootleg. But it was also rare to screen the movie so early. Usually Black movies don’t screen so early, or as often for fear of bootleggers.

After the movie, we were all captivated by the Oscar caliber performances, solid writing and—I admit—the closing theme by Mary J. Blige that nearly brought a tear to my eye. Writer/Director Tate Taylor did a yeoman’s job of translating Kathryn Stockett’s novel to the big screen. A job well done. But was it a job that was needed? Or even asked for?

As the film unspooled, lots of other thought’s crossed my mind like, “Haven’t I seen this trick before?” and “Did Hollywood run out of ideas for Slave pictures so they had to invent some new slaves from the 60s I never knew about to make a movie?” and “Maybe Viola Davis did this one so that some good shit like FENCES fight finally get made.”

I bit my tongue. After all, it’s just a movie. Feeling the need for some feedback, I invited some members to share their views (see separate post). Besides, it just seemed so obvious to criticize The Help for falling back on the old Hollywood standby of telling a black person’s story through the eyes of a white (Remember Pinky, Imitation of Life, Cry Freedom, Mississippi Burning). And Disney not only invited Reelblack to sample it’s wares, but The NAACP, The Deltas, NABJ and other groups of Black folks all over the country. I didn’t expect much enlightenment going in and I pretty much got what I expected.

This is not to say that THE HELP is not worth your time or money. It’s a good film. In light of the fact that there was a lynching that took place in Jackson, MS just last month, there’s an obvious need for Peace, Love and Understanding that this movie hopefully provides. I hope it wins Oscars. Lots of them. But it will seem ironic if one of the fine Black Actresses wins the same gold statuette Hattie McDaniel won in 1939 for playing what in essence is the same role.

Two things happen when Hollywood feels a recession—the riskier movies stop getting made and the nostalgia comes out. Now one might argue that the 70s were a time of recession where some of the riskiest, edgiest American films of all time were created. This is true. But keep in mind Hollywood was feeling a money pinch in the 60s as a result of Television. Long-in-the-tooth movies like Hello Dolly, Finian’s Rainbow and Boy, Did I Get A Wrong Number nearly destroyed Tinseltown. The 70s were a time of revival and rebirth for Hollywood.

So, in case you haven’t noticed, all-black films with all-black subject matter have been shut off like a spigot in Hollywood. Great period dramas by Black directors like THE GREAT DEBATERS and THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES didn’t make money (nor had the same level of promotion as The Help) so that has justified Hollywood cutting movies like them off their development slates. Don’t expect too many more., even on TV We seem to support HOUSE OF PAYNE in higher numbers than UNDERCOVERS.

So, the way I see it, the problem isn’t with THE HELP, its with the lack of other choices for us at the Multiplex. It’s with the fact that when movies come out that have the potential to speak to our soul, we don’t support them in the places where it matters to Hollywood. You can’t wait for I WILL FOLLOW to stream on Netflix. You need to put that chumpie on pre-order at Amazon so you get it in your mailbox on August 23. You can’t wait for your man at the barbershop to walk through with GUN HILL ROAD. You need to “Like” the Facebook page and stay informed about when its coming to your town. If you’re a Wood Harris fan, you need to know that his Sundance hit M.V.P. is now called JOY ROAD and you can go to that movie’s website and Demand that it come to your city when it is released in October. Or if you live in a Major city, join my mailing list and circle the release date for AAFRM’s 2nd release, KINYARWANDA. If you got a couple extra bucks in your pocket, purchase a Reelblack sponsorship or membership. Or even better, support an-up-and-coming filmmaker on Kickstarter. Don’t know who to support? I’ll send you a list.

This isn’t 1939. Or 1949. Or even 1987. No need for us to go for the okey-doke every time. There are dozens of qualified filmmakers that are ready, willing and able to tell our stories. There are hundreds of great books—many much better than THE HELP—that are deserving of being adapted to film. We pump hundreds of millions of dollars into entertainment annually. But if we keep waiting for Hollywood to tell our stories for us, we’ll continue to get the contrived, the dated and sometimes the outright offensive treatment. Change is here. For some it’s just invisible.

Mike D.

“Good Movies ‘bout Black Folks since 2002.”

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