Watch: Murder to Mercy – The Cyntoia Brown Story

After 16-year-old Cyntoia Brown is sentenced to life in prison, questions about her past, physiology and the law itself call her guilt into question. The documentary is currently playing on Netflix.

According to Netflix:

In 2004, 16-year-old Cyntoia Denise Brown was arrested in Nashville, Tennessee, for murdering a 43-year-old man who picked her up for sex. She was tried as an adult and sentenced to life in prison — Cyntoia’s fate seemed sealed. The film shows the complexity of a child who was the product of three generations of violence against women in her biological family. And how in 2019, after nearly 10 years of legal challenges, Governor Bill Haslam granted her request for clemency. He did so following a slow shift in the state for legislative change in juvenile sentencing laws and having seen evidence of her maturity, education, and good behavior as a prisoner. Directed and produced by Daniel H. Birman, and edited and produced by Megan E. Chao.

To read more about Cyntoia Brown, there are all sorts of stories online.

Watch: JIVA – Netflix Adds African Series To The Line Up

Netflix isn’t shy about showing its love for Africa these days as they recently announced the new series JIVA being added to its production line up. From their site:

JIVA! will be a local African production, from script to screen, and will showcase an all-African cast and crew. 

Below are some fast facts about what you can expect from Africa’s next original;

  • JIVA! is a fun and energy-packed drama series that follows the life of the talented street dancer Ntombi, who while juggling the demands of a dead end job, family responsibility and a rocky love life realises that her dance moves could be her ticket out of her working class neighbourhood in Durban. But first, she must overcome her fears, beat her rivals and sort out the chaos that is her family.
  • Busisiwe Ntintili, of The Ntintili Factory, is the Creator and Showrunner of JIVA! She is an award winning writer, director and producer with 20 years of television and film under her belt, including South Africa’s highest rated television shows, the Peabody Award Winning drama series “Intersexions” and the box office hit movie “Happiness is a Four Letter Word”.
  • Scottnes L. Smith (Hear Me Move, There’s A Bluebird In My Heart, Long Street), award winning Director Mandla Dube (Kalushi) and award winning Director Mmambatho Montsho (Emoyeni, Lockdown) will join the directing team of the series. 
  • The series stars a dynamic all-local cast, including break out star, Noxolo Dlamini (Sarafina Stage Production, Isibaya) playing the lead, Candice Modiselle (Generations; The Legacy), Sne Mbatha (So You Think You Can Dance), Stella Dlangalala (Funny People Africa), Zazi Kunene(Pinky Pinky), Anga Makubalo (Generations), Given Stuurman (Shuga), Ntuthuzelo Grootboom (PE’s Finest Dance Crew), Zamani Mbatha (Isithembiso) and veteran actor Tony Kgoroge (Invictus, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), who will be joined by other well-known local talent.
  • Bontle Modiselle, dancer, actor and radio personality and Tom London, founder of South Africa’s top dance crew Soweto’s Finest, join the creative team as choreographers for the series.
  • JIVA! will be produced by Cape Town based production team Blue Ice Africa with Busisiwe Ntintili, Adam Friedlander and Tebogo Maila as Executive Producers.

We love how this looks and can’t wait to see it. Congrats to the team all around the world.

Peace and Light.

Watch: Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone Trailer

According to CBS All Access: “Discover the next dimension.” The modern reimagining of The Twilight Zone, from Jordan Peele, is back. Stream all episodes of the new season of The Twilight Zone June 25 only on CBS All Access.

Jordan Peele is host and Executive Producer

In addition to being an Executive Producer with Simon Kinberg on this new version of a classic, Peele will return as the host. They have a stellar Season 2 guest cast including: Morena Baccarin, Billy Porter, Jurnee Smollett, Daniel Sunjata, Damon Wayans Jr. and more.

The original series was ahead of its time.

On October 2, 1959, the original Twilight Zone series premiered on CBS. Ahead of its time, the original show took the fans through a world of imagination, and pushed the boundaries of storytelling.

According to CBS, “The Twilight Zone explored humanity’s hopes, despairs, prides, and prejudices in metaphoric ways to introduce audiences to the tails of morality and present perspectives that are underserved in conventional television.

Now in 2020, Jordan Peele gets the opportunity to bring his innovation, ingenuity and creativity to this series. We can’t wait. Be there on June 25, 2020.

Watch: Spike Lee’s Short Film New York, New York

Famed Director Spike Lee wrote on his Instagram page upon releasing his latest Spike Lee Joint, “My Short Film – NEW YORK NEW YORK Is A Love Letter To It’s People. Plain And Simple.”

The short film, emotional and stark at times, makes us think about what New York was like before COVID-19. “Was it that grey?” “Where are all the busy New Yorkers?” “When have I ever seen a subway empty?”

The film opens with a bunch of landmarks and ends thanking the healthcare workers for their daily sacrifice to the city who has been struck the hardest in the entire US.

Thank you healthcare workers. Thank you Spike Lee.

Featured photo courtesy Spike’s Joint. Poster currently on sale.

Watch: Matthew A. Cherry’s Hair Love, Short Film

Hair Love, an Oscar®-winning animated short film from Matthew A. Cherry, tells the heartfelt story of an African American father learning to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.

About Hair Love – From Matthew’s official site:

Hair Love, is a 7 minute animated short film that centers around the relationship between an African-American father, Stephen, his daughter, Zuri and her hair. Despite having long locks, Stephen has been used to his wife doing his daughter’s hair, so when she is unavailable right before a big event, Stephen will have to figure it out on his own. This sounds simple enough, but we soon come to find that Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. 

This story was born out of seeing a lack of representation in mainstream animated projects, and also wanting to promote hair love amongst young men and women of color. It is our hope that this project will inspire.

Hair Love Broke Records

The project is a collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation that was launched as a Kickstarter campaign in 2017 with a fundraising goal of $75,000. Strong support led to the campaign amassing nearly $300,000, making it the most highly-funded short film campaign in Kickstarter history.

Black TV Film Crew was an early supporter of Hair Love

We’re very emotional about this project as we supported the initial Kickstarter campaign, shared video, promoted it on Facebook and did an exclusive interview with Matthew to help build momentum. We couldn’t be more proud of this accomplishment. The picture book “Hair Love” was released by Kokila Books/Penguin Random House on May 14, 2019, and became a New York Times Bestseller.

If you get a chance also look for Matthew’s film The Last Fall with Lance Gross.

Directors: Matthew A. Cherry (Executive Producer, “BlacKkKlansman”) Everett Downing Jr. (Animator, “Up”) Bruce W. Smith (Creator, “The Proud Family,” Animator, “The Princess and the Frog”)

Producers: Karen Rupert Toliver, Stacey Newton, Monica A. Young, Matthew A. Cherry, David Steward II, Carl Reed.

Executive Producers: Peter Ramsey (“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,”) Frank Abney (Animator, “Toy Story 4.”)

Features: Issa Rae (“Insecure”) as Zuri’s mother.

Co-Executive Producers: Jordan Peele, Andrew Hawkins, Harrison Barnes, Yara and Keri Shahidi. Associate Producers: N’Dambi Gillespie, Gabrielle Union-Wade, Dwayne Wade Jr., Gabourey Sidibe, Stephanie Fredric, and Claude Kelly. Music Composers: Paul Mounsey, Daniel D. Crawford. Additional Composer: Taylor Graves.

Production Partners: Lion Forge Animation, Chasing Miles, Matthew A. Cherry Entertainment.