“You can murder a liberator, but you can’t murder a liberation! You can murder a revolutionary, but you can’t murder a revolution! You can murder a freedom fighter but you can’t murder freedom!” Daniel Kaluuya as Chairman Fred Hampton in JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
I was invited by Warner Bros. to attend a virtual Q & A last Tuesdsay, where I also got a first look at its upcoming film JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH. The Q & A was moderated by CNN correspondent and legal analyst Laura Coates and featured producers Ryan Coogler and Charles D. King, director/co-writer Shaka King and Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. – the son of the late Chairman Fred Hampton, Sr. upon whose life the film is based.
Starring Daniel Kaluuya as the aforementioned and LaKeith Stanfield as William O’Neal, the movie follows the the story of Hampton as Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party and his tragic betrayal by a petty criminal and FBI informant (O’Neal).
While expressing his thoughts on how it feels to have a movie made about his father’s assassination, Hampton Jr. shared,
“It wasn’t an easy conversation (with producers). (But) legacy is more important than your life.”
He went on to explain that many people have been deprived of knowing his father’s story and actions within the Black Panther Party, and he wants to get information out, like the film, that doesn’t compromise his legacy.
And the combination of Coogler, C. King ,and S. King is a match made in heaven to take on such a project – Coogler, the creator of Fruitvale Station and the director of the Marvel hit film, and unapologetically black, Black Panther, Charles D. King, producer of such hits as Fences and Just Mercy, and director Shaka King, who cut his chops directing episodes of popular shows like Shrill and Newlyweeds, with all three belonging to an artist collective that promotes social activism.
After viewing the trailer, we got to witness it twice before the Q & A, my initial thoughts were that both Kaluuya and Stanfield appear dynamic and I was highly intrigued. I was also extremely excited to see Dominique Fishback cast, with whom I spoke last week regarding her upcoming Netflix film Project Power, starring Fishback, Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (video coming soon).
Yet, I’m bracing for the film to be a bittersweet watch because, although I am eager to witness Hampton’s story getting the big screen treatment, it will be heartbreaking to see a fictionalized account of a young activist whose life was taken so tragically – and too soon.
I submitted a question for the panel never thinking Ms. Coates would select it, since so many press members and writers were in attendance, but lo and behold it was the first inquiry made. Shaka King was gracious enough to answer, and you can take a listen in the below video.
You can also watch the first trailer for JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH at the bottom of this post. The film is expected to hit theaters in early 2021.
Until next thought, Thomasena