Patrik-Ian Polk‘s gay coming-of-age drama Blackbird, starring Academy Award winning actress and comedian Mo’Nique and Isaiah Washington, has been set for a limited theatrical release in the U.S beginning April 24, 2015 (locations below).
Based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Larry Duplechan, the film introduces breakthrough talent Julian Walker as Randy, a young man struggling with the shame of being black and gay in rural Mississippi.
He is described as “a good-natured choirboy with a gorgeous voice and a host of personal issues – his little sister’s disappearance, the separation of his parents (played by Mo’Nique and Isaiah Washington), his strange and unsettling visions, and his repressed attraction to the same sex.”
Growing up “against a backdrop of blue skies, creeks, and pickup trucks and surrounded by a pack of misfit friends, he is the only one in his life who doesn’t seem to know (or accept) that he’s gay. As he and his classmates work on a controversial school production of Romeo & Juliet, all the problems in his life come to a head.”
Director Patrik-Ian Polk told Out Magazine last year: “He’s not being bullied, but he’s weighted down by the overly religiously conservative environment he’s in. As most teenagers do, he’s coming to terms and figuring out who he is. He’s struggling with his Christian faith. He really believes it when you first meet him. He’s plagued by these burgeoning emotions. We can see how he struggles with that and how it affects the family.”
Blackbird also stars Terrell Tilford, D. Woods, Gary L. Gray, Torrey Laamar, Kevin Allesee, and Nikki Jane.
As ShadowAndAct reports, the film began its very successful film festival run as the closing night gala screening for Los Angeles’ Pan African Film Festival (PAFF), where it won the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature Film.
It went on to appear at Newfest at Lincoln Center in New York City, Out On Film in Atlanta, Reeling in Chicago, Outfest Fusion in Los Angeles, The Seattle LGBT Film Festival, ReelQ in Pittsburgh, Outflix Memphis, Long Beach QFilms, New York’s American Black Film Festival (ABFF), and The Tampa International LGBT Film Festival.
Blackbird sold out San Francisco’s twelve-hundred-seat historic Castro Theatre at the Frameline Film Festival, the country’s oldest LGBT film festival.
It had a successful international screenings at festivals in Barcelona, Melbourne, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Canada, England, and Italy.
Additionally, the film won “Best Feature” honors at Outflix Memphis, Atlanta’s Out On Film, Chicago’s Reeling, and the Crossroads Film Festival in Polk’s native Mississippi.
It also earned “Best Ensemble Cast,” “Best Director” and “Best Actor” (Julian Walker) at Atlanta’s Out On Film, as well as the Diversity Award at the Barcelona LGTB Film Festival.
“It was important to bring this film to theaters and I was honored to produce and work with Mo’Nique, Julian Walker and Kevin Allesse on this film,” said Isaiah Washington. “Duplechan first introduced his novel BLACKBIRD nearly thirty years ago, yet the story remains just as timely today as it was when first told. ‘Blackbird’ is a glorious film, a personal journey and a story that deserves to be shared.”
Executive produced by Mo’Nique and husband Sidney Hicks, the film is produced by Keith Brown and Carol Ann Shine along with Polk and Washington.
Blackbird is a collaboration between Hicks Media Productions, Tall Skinny Black Boy Productions, Coalhouse Productions, and KBiz Entertainment.
It is being distributed by Urban Movie Channel (television) and RLJ Entertainment (theatrical), both created by Robert L. Johnson, founder of BET.
“I am very excited to bring ‘Blackbird’ to theaters and to UMC,” said Johnson. “’Blackbird’ is in line with my vision for UMC to bring together the African American/urban production and talent community with a distribution channel dedicated to showcasing and supporting their creative works. I have had the pleasure of knowing Mo’Nique since early in her career as a comedian and her appearances on BET, and I know and admire Isaiah’s work as both an actor and a producer. I am certain that audiences will enjoy the inspirational storyline and powerful performances by this extraordinary cast.”
“Bob Johnson is a legend and a trailblazer – so I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with him and his exciting new enterprise on the release of ‘Blackbird,’” said Polk. “I’ve dreamed of making this film since first reading Larry Duplechan’s groundbreaking novel twenty-five years ago as a freshman in college, and I can’t wait to see it in theaters!”
Blackbird‘s screenplay was written by Rikki Beadle Blair and Polk.
Limited Theatrical Release Locations
AMC STONECREST 16
8060 Mall Parkway,
Lithonia, GA 30038
AMC SOUTHLAKE 24
7065 Mount Zion Circle,
Morrow, GA 30260
AMC METREON 16
135 4th Street Suite #3000,
San Francisco, CA 94103
CENTURY 20 GREAT MALL AND XD
1010 Great Mall Drive,
Milpitas, CA 95035
CINEMARK 18 & XD
6081 Center Drive,
Los Angeles, CA 90045
New York City
AMC EMPIRE 25
234 West 42nd St.,
New York, NY 10036
AMC LOEWS VILLAGE 7
66 3rd Ave.,
New York, NY 10003
AMC EMPIRE 25
234 West 42nd St.,
New York, NY 10036
ANGELIKA POP-UP AT UNION MARKET
550 E Penn St NE,
Washington, DC 20002