Turn on the news this past week and you”ll see people from around the country amassing in protest of the recent decision that police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. The inaction provoked conversation of race and authority in present day America, with politicians, human rights groups, and driven individuals rallying for reconsideration on the case and justice for all who”ve suffered in similar situations. This includes many in the entertainment industry, who will join forces with the Blackout for Human Rights network this Friday, Nov. 28, to keep the conversation going.
In New York, a group of leading indie directors and actors will stage a special screenplay reading of Spike Lee”s “Do The Right Thing,” which celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2014. Blackout for Human Rights presents the event, organized by filmmakers Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station”) and Shaka King (“Newlyweeds”). John Turturro, who played Vito in the 1989 film, will read the role of Sal in this Friday's screenplay reading. Michael B. Jordan, who starred in Coogler's “Fruitvale Station” will read the role of “Mookie” (played by Spike Lee in the original film).
Blackout for Human Rights, which counts Coogler, King, Terence Nance, Rick Famuyiwa and others among its members, is calling for a nationwide boycott of Black Friday in an attempt to spread awareness of the issues on the table. The organization will use the hashtag #BlackOutBlackFriday to spread the word on social media for supporters to participate in “a nationwide day of action for human rights awareness, as opposed to a day of consumerism.”
“In keeping with Blackout (for Human Rights') theme of making Friday November 28th a day of activism over consumerism, we thought that doing a screenplay reading of Spike Lee's classic with a contemporary cast would be a great way to give people an alternative to shopping,” said filmmaker Ryan Coogler in a statement. “New York is the city the whole country looks to for cultural leadership and with the recent human rights violations committed against New York citizens Eric Garner [a Staten Island resident recently chokeholed to death by a police officer] and Akai Gurley [accidentally shot by police in his Brooklyn apartment complex earlier this month], we felt that this story of how New Yorker's viewed and treated each other 25 years ago is just as relevant now as it was then.”
The free event, this Friday at 7PM will take place at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater. If you”re in the area, free tickets for the reading will be distributed at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center box office one hour before the screening.
On the West Coast, the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement will stage its own Blackout for Human Rights event with a three-film series at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles. At 3pm, AFFRM will show Coogler”s “Fruitvale Station,” followed by screenings of Ava DuVernay”s “Middle of Nowhere” (with the “Selma” director in attendance) and Mike L. Brown”s “25 to Life” (with a Q&A moderated by DuVernay). DuVernay took to Twitter to promote the event with this statement:
Everyone felt something about the Ferguson grand jury decision. I felt depleted. Like I needed nourishment. So… offering food for thought about black life. Why? Because black lives matter – despite those who believe and behave otherwise. We at AFFRM have planned a three-film series co-presented by Blackout called “Cinema, Conversation and Change.” It'll happen as a Black Friday shopping alternative on November 28 at our partner venue, . This was planned on the evening of the grand jury decision, born out of pain and a desire to be constructive. Ferguson is a mirror of the past. “Selma” is a mirror of now. We are in a sad, distorted continuum. It's time to really look in that mirror. Join us. It's free.”
Additional info on the screening series can be found on AFFRM.com.