The Film Strip: Riveting ‘Beyond the Lights’ Opens Urbanworld Film Festival

Beyond the Lights Opens Urbanworld Film Festival
The Urbanworld Film Festival presented by BET Networks with founding sponsor HBO announced it 2014 Festival slate.
The nation’s largest competitive multicultural film festival will take starting today, September 18-21, 2014 at Manhattan’s AMC Loews 34th Street venue , and various other locations in New York. The festival will screen over 70 films, including 12 world premieres.
Relativity’s “Beyond the Lights” is the opening night film. Immediately following the screening, a panel discussion with Gina Prince-Bythewood, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker will take place.
“Beyond the Lights” is the off the hook music drama that will yank at your every emotion. It is so apropos at this time considering the depression issue that has silenced so many creative artists. References are made to the Black Diaspora, pop culture, politics, and one of the most significant performers of our times, Nina Simone. With all that is going on in this electrifying narrative, a key element that binds it together is the compelling love story. One look at Noni Jean’s (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) music video in the film—which is too hot for a trailer—it’s no wonder she is the super star that she is.
Written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Love and Basketball,” “The Secret Life of Bees”), “Beyond the Lights,” will be showcased at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 18 at the SVA Theater at 333 W. 23rd Street. The story of a talented young musician, Mbatha-Raw (“Belle,” “Larry Crowne”), on the brink of super stardom struggling with the pressure of her new-found success also stars Nate Parker (“Red Tails,” “The GreatDebaters”), Minnie Driver (“Good Will Hunting”) and Emmy Award® nominee Danny Glover (“The Color Purple,” “Lethal Weapon”). The film opens nationwide on November 14, 2014. Prince-Bythewood, a longtime supporter of the festival and Independent Spirit Award® winner, is the ambassador for this year’s festivities.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker
Friday, September 19, features an Evening with Zane and The Men of Addicted—Boris Kodjoe, Tyson Beckford, Billie Woodruffand William Levy. Therewill be an exclusive look at scenes from the upcoming film,Addicted,” based on the best-selling novel by Zane and a screenplay by Christina Welsh and Ernie Barbarash anda Q & A with the men, moderated by Bevy Smith.
The provocative thriller is about desire and the dangers of   indiscretion. Successful businesswoman Zoe Reynard (Sharon Leal) appears to have attained it all, the dream husband she loves, two wonderful children and a flourishing career. As perfect as everything appears from the outside, Zoe is still drawn to temptations she cannot escape or resist. As she pursues a secretive life, Zoe finds herself risking it all when she heads down a perilous path she may not survive.  BorisKodjoe, Tyson BeckfordandWilliam Levy star in the film and will join Zane and director Bille Woodruff at a Q & A, moderated by, and exclusive look at scenes from the film.
In the first public dialogue about her upcoming film, “Selma,” the Spotlight Conversation with Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, will be on September 20. One of the most exciting new voices in American cinema,  DuVernay will share a behind the scenes clip presentation of “Selma,” exclusively at Urbanworld®. This special event will be moderated by Urbanworld® Executive Producer Gabrielle Glore. “Selma,” from Paramount Pictures, Pathe and Harpo Films, stars David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth, Lorraine Touissant, Common, Giovanni Ribisi, Andre Holland, Colman Domingo, Wendell Pierce, Tessa Thompson, Keith Stanfield, Stephan James and Alessandro Nivola with Tom Wilkinson and Oprah Winfrey. It chronicles Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic struggle to secure voting rights for all people–a dangerous and terrifying campaign that culminated with an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The film will be released by Paramount Pictures on December 25, 2014.
BET returns for the seventh year as presenting sponsor and will again sponsor the Screenplay Award category. “Urbanworld Film Festival continues to position itself as an impactful platform for screenwriters, producers and directors of diverse backgrounds,” said Loretha Jones, President of Original Programming, BET. “BET understands the importance of supporting and empowering the talent in our communities, so we strongly value our relationship with Urbanworld Film Festival – a launching pad for those passionate about creating compelling art.”
Additional highlights of the festival include HBO Latino’s screening of “Habla Men,” the newest installment of its originally produced award-winning “Hablaseries on what it means to be Latino in the United States. Urbanworld Underground, a platform that debuted in 2013 to highlight and encourage maverick content creators who are transcending conventional filmmaking with innovative storytelling, will also be a highlight of the five-day event.
“Our 2014 film slate reflects the significance and esteem the festival has achieved over the past 17 years,” said Gabrielle Glore, Executive Producer and Head of Programming, Urbanworld. “ As the largest multicultural festival, we continue to strive to make Urbanworld ‘THE’ destination for filmmakers and studios to connect with a diverse movie-going audience. This year, we are excited to add an even deeper variety of international films, as well as content that targets the Latino community. With BET and HBO as our partners, we are able to continue to highlight stories that the world needs to see.”
For more information about feature films, spotlights and free events, go to:
Watch the trailer for “Beyond the Lights”:
Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at

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