On June 19, 1865, slavery was abolished in Texas, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It is a benchmark in Black history and is more timely now than ever as it is a day to celebrate and champion Black voices. That said, it is a good day for the debut of Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Miss Juneteenth, a film that spotlights the staple pageant associated with the day.
Directed and written by Texas native Peoples, Miss Juneteenth made its world premiere at Sundance earlier this year. The film stars Nicole Beharie, Alexis Chikaeze and Kendrick Sampson and follows Turquoise Jones (Beharie), a former beauty queen turned hard-working single mom that is preparing her rebellious teenage daughter Kai (Chikaeze) for the annual Miss Juneteenth pageant, hoping to keep her from repeating the same mistakes in life that she made.
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“I grew up with Juneteenth so it was just second nature to me,” said Peoples told Deadline at Sundance.
She added, “We continue to celebrate that the same way every year…there’s parades, there’s blues music, there’s barbecues. And in the centerpiece of it is the Miss Juneteenth Pageant. It’s a Scholastic beauty pageant for young African American women to gain college scholarship.””
“First of all, the title Juneteenth, you’re like, ‘what is this going to be about?’ And the assumption is that it’s a period piece, right?,” said Beharie. “When you think about the actual term Juneteenth, June 19th, people getting their freedom a little bit late, and then this ends up being a tale about these two women, one a younger woman, who come into their own in a different way.”
The film from Vertical Entertainment is available on demand and digital starting today. Watch the trailer below.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt flies high in the action-thriller 7500 which debuts on Amazon Prime Video today. Marking Patrick Vollrath’s feature directorial debut, the pic made its world premiere at the Locarno Film Festival in 2019 and also stars Omid Memar, Murathan Muslu, and Aylin Tezel.
7500 follows an American co-pilot Tobias (Gordon-Levitt) who is on a flight from Berlin to Paris, but shortly after takeoff, terrorists armed with makeshift knives storm the cockpit, seriously wounding his pilot Michael (Carlo Kitzlinger). After getting his arm slashed, Tobias fends off the terrorists and contacts ground control to plan an emergency landing. When the terrorists threaten to kill passengers if Tobias doesn’t let them back into the cockpit, he makes an attempt to save the lives of the passengers and crew. At the same time, he forms an unlikely connection with a panicked young terrorist who he realizes is also a victim in the deadly situation.
As we continue to celebrate Pride, Netflix adds to the visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community with the Sam Feder documentary Disclosure which gives an unprecedented, eye-opening look at transgender depictions in film and television which exposes how Hollywood simultaneously reflects and manufactures our deepest anxieties about gender. The docu, which debuted at Sundance, features Laverne Cox, Lilly Wachowski, Yance Ford, Jen Richards, Mj Rodriguez, Jamie Clayton, Chaz Bono and more.
The new documentary Runner from filmmaker Bill Gallagher is set to cross the finish line this weekend. The pic follows South Sudanese Olympian Guor Marial and how his story caught the world’s attention. After leaving war-torn Sudan to seek safety in the U.S., he found a new life by participating in track and field. This eventually paved the way for him to qualify him for the 2012 Olympics — but because the newly formed South Sudan was not recognized by the International Olympic Committee, Marial had to fight to compete independently, refusing to run for Sudan and taking a stand against its oppression.
Director Shannon Murphy (Killing Eve) is set to take a bite out of the digital space with the coming-of-age pic Babyteeth written by Rita Kalnejais. The film, which made its world premiere last year at the Venice Film Festival, introduces us to Milla (Eliza Scanlen) a seriously ill teenager who falls for a small-time drug dealer Moses (Toby Wallace). Obviously, her parents (Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn) are not happy about it. However, her newfound love brings a renewed lust for life for Milla. As she begins to free herself from her traditional morals, her parents hold on to her tighter. As a result, she teaches everyone around her how good it is to be alive and how far we will go for love.
The Samuel Goldwyn Films World War II thriller Mr. Jones drops on digital today before debuting on demand July 3. Directed by Agnieszka Holland and written by Andrea Chalupa, the film stars James Norton, Vanessa Kirby, Peter Sarsgaard and Joseph Mawle and is set on the eve of WWII. As Hitler and Stalin rise to power, an ambitious young journalist, Gareth Jones (Norton) travels to Moscow to uncover the truth behind the propaganda, but then gets a tip that could expose an international conspiracy, one that could cost him and his informant their lives. Jones goes on a life-or-death journey to uncover the truth behind the façade that would later inspire George Orwell’s seminal book Animal Farm.
Also opening in virtual cinemas this weekend is the documentary Creating a Character: The Moni Yakim Legacy directed by Rauzar Alexander and produced by Kali Wilder, Boaz Yakin and Honey Boy‘s Alma Har’el. The docu profiles the legendary titular Juilliard instructor who has taught the likes of Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Oscar Isaac, Kevin Kline, Laura Linney, Jessica Chastain and Anthony Mackie — many of whom are interviewed in this film.
Antoine Le will serve some social media horror with Followed which was originally supposed to open in theaters on April 10 but will now be released in drive-in theaters nationwide on June 19 before expanding on June 26. The pic follows aspiring social media influencer “DropTheMike” who takes advantage of a lucrative opportunity to visit one of the most haunted hotels in America. What begins as a fun investigative challenge turns into one evil night of horror.
Other releases for this weekend include Philippe Faucon’s three-part episodic French series Proud which spans three generations and focuses on crucial moments for LGBTQ rights. Matt Riddlehoover gives us an illuminating portrait of Johnny Cash’s first wife Vivian Liberto in the docu My Darling Vivian, which will have an exclusive premiere today in the Film Forum’s Virtual Cinema in New York. Yonatan Nir and Dani Menkin serve their own virtual premiere with the documentary Picture of His Life, which spotlights Amos Nachoum, one of the greatest underwater and wildlife photographers of all time who is prepping for his biggest and most dangerous mission in the Canadian Arctic.
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