Black Hollywood makes strong showing at Toronto Film Festival

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The celebrity parade down the red carpets was noticeably low-key at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. But the entourage of Black talent was in full swing as the world’s most multi-cultural film festival entered its 33rd year. Toronto is still

The celebrity parade down the red carpet was noticeably low-key at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. But the entourage of Black talent was in full swing as the world’s most multi-cultural film festival entered its 33rd year.

Toronto is still the festival of choice for filmmakers or films that want “the” world-class stage. The following films and talent are some of the ones that will appear on your local movie screens this fall and beyond, fresh from a run at Toronto.

Miracle at St. Anna–The Buffalo Soldiers, a division of African American men in the armed forces during World War II, faced discrimination; yet they persevered and became heroes in Italy when they liberated its citizens. James McBride’s novel fictionalized their story, adding a whimsical element. His inferior screenplay and uneven direction by Spike Lee undermine any good intentions. 1944 Tuscany: Four Black soldiers are alone as they fight Nazi troops in a small village. Staff Sergeant Stamps (Derek Luke) and Sergeant Cummings (Michael Ealy) vie for the attention of a local woman. Private Sam Train (Omar Benson Miller), a huge, oafish soldier, becomes a surrogate parent to an orphaned child (Matteo Sciabordi) who seems to have magical qualities. And Corporal Negron (Laz Alonso), a Blatino, is the voice of reason.

Angela Basset–Art imitates topical news items in the dramatic thriller "Nothing But The Truth." A brash D.C. reporter (Kate Beckinsale) breaks a story about a soccer mom who is also a C.I.A. Agent. Rather than reveal her source to a bullying, district attorney (Matt Dillon), the reporter goes to jail with her lips sealed. Basset plays her newspaper’s editor, a complex character who likes the attention the journalist’s Pulitzer-nominated story brings but is pained by her employee’s sacrifice.

Chi McBride–Two Jewish brothers (Alessandro Nivola, David Oyelowo) started Chess Records in Chicago, back in the ’40s. They later discovered the talents of blues greats Muddy Waters, Etta James and rocker Bo Diddley. "Who Do You Love" follows their exploits and the evolution of blues into rock and roll. Tony Award-winning director Jerry Zaks chronicles this hallowed time and place in music history.

Anthony Mackie–The war/action/thriller "Hurt Locker" tackles the exploits of the United States Army’s Bravo Company; their job is to defuse bombs on Baghdad streets. One mistake and kaboom! The unit is run by a stick-to-the-book commander played by Mackie, whose world is turned upside down the day a brash, cocky, won’t-follow-the-rules redneck (Jeremy Renner) joins his group. The tension between the two is combustible.

Thandie Newton–Director Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) spins a hip British crime thriller tale like a craftsman. "Rocknroller" is a cool, smug, smart who’s-zooming-who film that follows the exploits of a junkie punk rocker son who stole a painting from his abusive dad, a crime lord. The art belongs to the Russian mafia, and they want their painting back–or else. The ever-flirtatious Thandie Newton plays the femme fatale in this devilish potpourri where crooks speak in the most proper, over-polite language–then they kill people.

Black films, actors and directors, and Oscar-contending movies: It’s no wonder the Toronto International Film Festival is their mecca. NNPA

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Copyright 2008 NNPA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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