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Chinonye Chukwu Is the First Black Woman To Win A Grand Jury Prize At Sundance.

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The Nigerian-American director leaves Sundance Film Festival 2019 making history.
Chinonye Chukwu is the Nigerian-American director who truly left a mark on this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The raving reviews of her film Clemency are not the only valuables she’ll be leaving the festival with, as she is taking home the Grand Jury Prize for the U.S. Dramatic competition, Indie Wire reports.

This win makes her the first black woman to snag the festival’s biggest prize. She is now among U.S. Dramatic winners including Ryan Coogler, Desiree Akhavan, Debra Granik and more directors to take home this prize.

The Nigerian-born, Alaska-raised screenwriter, producer, director and activist both wrote and directed the drama that stars Alfre Woodard, who plays a prison warden grappling with how emotionally demanding her job is. Here’s the brief synopsis from Sundance below:

Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill.
“I did a deep, deep, 4 year dive into the research and advocacy required to tell this story…and that was just scratching the surface,” Chukwu says in an interview with Democracy Now.

The filmmaker has also received more words of congratulations from the film world on social media, including Ava DuVernay and Tessa Thompson.

Chukwu is set to helm A Taste of Power next, a drama based on former Black Panther leader Elaine Brown’s life. Read more about the project here.

Source: Okay Africa.

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Jussie Smollett Gets Dropped By “Empire” For Season’s Final 2 Episodes.

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In the wake of Jussie Smollett‘s arrest, his character “Jamal” has now been dropped from the last two episodes of the current season of TV show Empire.

A statement jointly released Friday by the executive producers of the show, Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Gazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer confirmed the decision to remove the role.

The executive producers of the show said the decision was to prevent further disruption on set.

“While these allegations are very disturbing, we’re placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out,” a part of the statement read.

“We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of “Jamal” from the final two episodes of the season.”

The Empire show is presently in its fifth season.

Jussie Smollett turned himself over to the police after allegedly lying that he was attacked by two persons hurling homophobic and racial slurs.

Police are claiming the actor staged the attack due to dissatisfaction with his pay.

https://twitter.com/EmpireFOX/status/1099011597459087360
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Checkout ‘Ratnik’, Nollywood’s Action Film You Didn’t Know You Needed; Watch Trailer.

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Watch the dramatic teaser from Nigerian filmmaker Dimeji Ajibola.

A film 2 years in the making is yet another cinematic moment contributing to the growing diversity of subgenres in the Nollywood industry.

Ratnik is a dystopian action film from Nigerian filmmaker Dimeji Ajibola his production company Flipsyde Studios. The teaser recently dropped this month ahead of the official trailer—and from this 1-minute clip we're anticipating suspense, explosions, peculiar superhero characters and impressive vfx that we're seeing more of in Nigerian films.

As Konbini notes, we get a glimpse of a few of the star-studded cast members of Ratnik, featuring Bolanle Ninalowo, Osas Ighodaro, Meg Otanwa, Karibi Fubara, Ani Iyoho and Adunni Ade.

"From the moment I read the first scene I said to myself, 'How the hell can anyone achieve this in Nigeria?'" Ninalowo says in a recap clip about his experience shooting the film. "The shots are ridiculous, the locations are out of this world—I mean, this is Hollywood in Nollywood."

After watching this clip, what we're to expect in Ratnik will indeed be unique compared to the go-to romcom formula that's proven to be lucrative in Nollywood. But for now, we'll have to exercise a bit more patience to get a better sense of the plot of the film, as well as its release date.

Source: OkayAfrica.com

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Ghanaian Movie ‘The Burial Of Kojo’ Gets Acquired By Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY, Set To Premiere On Netflix.

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Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Releasing continues to give shine to underrepresented voices and stories by people of color and women with their latest acquisition, The Burial of Kojo from musical artist and filmmaker Samuel “Blitz” Bazawule. This marks the 22nd acquisition for ARRAY which has become an epicenter of independent film driven by inclusive storytelling. ARRAY has acquired distribution rights for the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. The Burial of Kojo will debut on Netflix March 31 in tandem with a national screening tour. DuVernay made the announcement online Friday.

The Burial of Kojo is an official selection of the 2019 Pan African Film Festival and the 2018 Urbanworld Film Festival Best Narrative Feature Winner. Marking his feature debut, Bazawule tells the story of two brothers through the eyes of a gifted girl who travels beautiful lands that exist between life and death. The trailer above shows Bazwule’s stunning vision of the familial narrative through the lens of magical realism and Afrofuturism.

“Through his fantastic film, director Samuel “Blitz” Bazawule weaves African mythology and socio-political issues into a stunning tapestry punctuated by both drama and dreams,” says ARRAY’s Vice President Tilane Jones. “We are proud to present the gorgeous Ghanaian film, The Burial of Kojo, as our 22nd ARRAY acquisition.”

This adds to ARRAY’s robust roster of films including the recently acquired MERATA: How Mum Decolonised the Screen from Heperi Mita which spotlights the life and work of his mother Merata Mita. An activist, she became a longtime Sundance Institute advisor and was the first Indigenous woman in the world to direct a film on her own. ARRAY acquired the title last month during the Sundance Film Festival when the documentary made its debut. Prior to MERATA, ARRAY acquired Lisa France’s feature documentary debut Roll With Me, which chronicles recovering addict and paraplegic Gabriel Cordell’s momentous journey to become the first person to roll an unmodified wheelchair across America. The docu made its premiere on Dec. 1 on Netflix.

The Burial of Kojo deal was negotiated by Gordon Bobb of Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano on behalf of ARRAY as well as Samuel Wilson of Salzano, Jackson & Lampert, LLP for the filmmaker.

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“The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind” Premieres During Berlin Film Festival. Watch Trailer.

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Big ups to Chiwetel Ejiofor.

The 41-year-old actor has premiered his directorial debut film, The Boy who Harnessed the Wind, during the 2019 Berlin Film Festival on Tuesday (February 12) in Berlin, Germany.

Chiwetel attended the premiere with his co-stars Aissa Maiga and Maxwell Simba, as well as William Kamkwamba, who wrote the book that inspired the movie.

BERLIN, GERMANY – FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Author William Kamkwamba, director Chiwetel Ejiofor, and actors Aissa Maiga and Maxwell Simba pose at the photocall for the Netflix film “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind” during the 69th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Grand Hyatt Hotel on February 12, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for Netflix)

BERLIN, GERMANY – FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Producer Gail Egan, casting director Alexa Fogel, author William Kamkwamba, director Chiwetel Ejiofor, actress Aissa Maiga, actor Maxwell Simba and producer Andrea Calderwood pose at the photocall for the Netflix film “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind” during the 69th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Grand Hyatt Hotel on February 12, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for Netflix)

The Boy who Harnessed the Wind, set to debut on Netflix in March, is a real-life story about a 13-year-old boy who, inspired by a science book, builds a wind turbine to save his Malawian village from famine.

Source: BellaNaija.com

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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