Matt writes: On Juneteenth week this year, RogerEbert.com proudly presented its inaugural edition of Black Writers Week, featuring seven days (June 14th-20th) of essential content penned by Black film critics, filmmakers, philanthropists and other thought leaders. Our site’s publisher, Chaz Ebert, welcomed five guest editors—Robert Daniels, Odie Henderson, Sergio Mims, Danielle Scruggs and Shawn Taylor—to assist with the publication of reviews, interviews, essays, Profiles in Courage articles and highlights from the archive (you can find them all listed in our table of contents).
The week also included three virtual panels, all of which are embedded in this newsletter, starting with “Whose Gaze: A Roundtable of Black Film Critics at the Movies.” Click below to watch the conversation between panelists Sarah-Tai Black, Emmanuel Noisette, Tambay Obenson, Reginald Ponder, Carla Renata, Gil Robertson and Kathia Woods, moderated by Chaz Ebert. Also be sure to check out the full roundup of bios and headshots for each esteemed participant in Black Writers Week here.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021). Directed by Michael Showalter. Written by Abe Sylvia. Starring Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Vincent D’Onofrio. Synopsis: An intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. Debuts in the US on September 17th, 2021.
tick, tick…BOOM! (2021). Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Written by Steven Levenson (based on the book by Jonathan Larson). Starring Andrew Garfield, Vanessa Hudgens, Bradley Whitford. Synopsis: On the cusp of his 30th birthday, a promising young theater composer navigates love, friendship, and the pressures of life as an artist in New York City. US release date is TBA.
How It Ends (2021). Written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein. Starring Zoe Lister-Jones, Cailee Spaeny, Whitney Cummings. Synopsis: In this feel-good apocalyptic comedy, Liza embarks on a hilarious journey through LA in hopes of making it to her last party before it all ends, running into an eclectic cast of characters along the way. Debuts in the US on July 20th, 2021.
Joe Bell (2021). Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green. Written by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Connie Britton, Morgan Lily. Synopsis: The true story of a small town, working class father who embarks on a solo walk across the U.S. to crusade against bullying after his son is tormented in high school for being gay. US release date is TBA.
Broken Diamonds (2021). Directed by Peter Sattler. Written by Steve Waverly. Starring Ben Platt, Yvette Nicole Brown, Lola Kirke. Synopsis: In the wake of his father’s death, a twenty-something writer sees his dream of moving to Paris put in jeopardy when he’s forced to temporarily take in his wildly unpredictable, mentally ill sister. Debuts in the US on July 23rd, 2021.
Love Spreads (2021). Written and directed by Jamie Adams. Starring Alia Shawkat, Eiza González, Chanel Cresswell. Synopsis: It is time to record the all important second album and Glass Heart is breaking in a million pieces. Away from touring and performing the band is not in harmony, and no amount of history in Rockfield Studios is going to solve that. Three very different songwriters, one desperate producer, a label exec and a keyboard collide. Debuts in the US on June 18th, 2021.
First Date (2021). Written and directed by Manuel Crosby and Darren Knapp. Starring Tyson Brown, Shelby Duclos, Jesse Janzen. Synopsis: After being conned into buying a shady ’65 Chrysler, Mike’s first date plans with girl-next-door Kelsey implode as he finds himself targeted by criminals, cops, and a crazy cat lady. Debuts in the US on July 2nd, 2021.
Midnight in the Switchgrass (2021). Directed by Randall Emmett. Written by Alan Horsnail. Starring Megan Fox, Bruce Willis, Emile Hirsch. Synopsis: An FBI agent and Florida State officer team up to investigate a string of unsolved murder cases. Debuts in the US on July 23rd, 2021.
Till Death (2021). Directed by S.K. Dale. Written by Jason Carvey. Starring Megan Fox, Lili Rich, Callan Mulvey. Synopsis: A woman is left handcuffed to her dead husband as part of a sick revenge plot. Unable to unshackle, she has to survive as two killers arrive to finish her off. Debuts in the US on July 2nd, 2021.
Die in a Gunfight (2021). Directed by Collin Schiffli. Written by Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari. Starring Diego Boneta, Alexandra Daddario, Travis Fimmel. Synopsis: In New York City, a young guy falls for the daughter of his father’s nemesis. Debuts in the US on July 16th, 2021.
Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans (2021). Directed by Johane Matte, Francisco Ruiz-Velasco and Andrew L. Schmidt. Written by Marc Guggenheim, Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman. Starring Emile Hirsch, Nick Offerman, Steven Yeun. Synopsis: The heroes from the Trollhunters series team-up on an epic adventure to fight the Arcane Order for control over the magic that binds them all. Debuts on Netflix on July 21st, 2021.
Summer of Soul (2021). Directed by Questlove. Synopsis: A feature documentary about the legendary 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival which celebrated African American music and culture, and promoted Black pride and unity. Debuts on Hulu on July 2nd, 2021.
Nine Perfect Strangers (2021). Directed by Jonathan Levine. Written by John-Henry Butterworth, David E. Kelley and Samantha Strauss (based on the novel by Liane Moriarty). Starring Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Michael Shannon. Synopsis: Adaptation of Liane Moriarty‘s novel about nine strangers who meet at a wellness resort. Debuts on Hulu on August 18th, 2021.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation (2021). Directed by Kevin Smith. Written by Eric Carrasco, Diya Mishra, Tim Sheridan and Marc Bernadin. Starring Chris Wood, Diedrich Bader, Kevin Conroy. Synopsis: The war for Eternia begins again in what may be the final battle between He-Man and Skeletor. Debuts on Netflix on July 23rd, 2021.
The Tomorrow War (2021). Directed by Chris McKay. Written by Zach Dean. Starring Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons. Synopsis: A family man is drafted to fight in a future war where the fate of humanity relies on his ability to confront the past. Debuts on Prime Video on July 2nd, 2021.
Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021). Directed by Malcolm D. Lee. Written by Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier, Keenan Coogler, Terence Nance, Jesse Gordon and Celeste Ballard. Starring LeBron James, Zendaya, Don Cheadle. Synopsis: NBA superstar LeBron James teams up with Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes for this long-awaited sequel. Debuts in the US on July 16th, 2021.
Fear Street (2021). Directed by Leigh Janiak. Written by Leigh Janiak, Phil Graziadei, Zak Olkewicz and Kate Trefry (based on the book by R.L. Stine). Starring Olivia Scott Welch, Gillian Jacobs, Sadie Sink. Synopsis: A circle of teenage friends accidentally encounter the ancient evil responsible for a series of brutal murders that have plagued their town for over 300 years. Welcome to Shadyside. Debuts on Netflix on July 2nd, 2021.
Pig (2021). Directed by Michael Sarnoski. Written by Vanessa Block and Michael Sarnoski. Starring Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin. Synopsis: A truffle hunter who lives alone in the Oregonian wilderness must return to his past in Portland in search of his beloved foraging pig after she is kidnapped. Debuts in the US on July 16th, 2021.
The Tanning of Hollywood
Matt writes: The Black Writers Week panel embedded above is entitled “The Tanning of Hollywood: Reimagining Equity and Inclusion as a Pinnacle Measure of Cinematic and Theatrical Excellence,” and features Jon Carr, Shawn Edwards, Karen Horne, JaNeika James, JaSheika James, Troy Pryor and moderator Rebecca Ford.
The Evolution of Afrofuturism
Matt writes: The Black Writers Week panel embedded above is entitled “The Evolution of Afrofuturism: Black Power, Black Love, Black Superheroes and Magic,” and features Steven Barnes, Dr. John Jennings, Ytasha Womack and moderator Tananarive Due.
The Jungle Book (1942). Directed by Zoltan Korda. Written by Laurence Stallings (based on the book by Rudyard Kipling). Starring Sabu, Joseph Calleia, John Qualen. Synopsis: A boy raised by wild animals tries to adapt to human village life.
Wildcat (1942). Directed by Frank McDonald. Written by Richard Murphy and Maxwell Shane (based on the story by North Bigbee). Starring Richard Arlen, Arline Judge, William Frawley. Synopsis: A wildcatter, broke but slick, manages to acquire a lease for oil-rich land but ruthless competitors sabotage his oil company any way they can.
Callie & Son (1981). Directed by Waris Hussein. Written by Thomas Thompson. Starring Lindsay Wagner, Jameson Parker, Dabney Coleman. Synopsis: Callie was a teenage mother in trouble. Fresh out of the delivery room, her son was taken from her and sold on the black-market. Vowing to find him some day, this is her story.