Category Archives: television


Posted by Larry Gleeson

LOS ANGELES (November 10, 2019) – Saban Films announced today that they have acquired North American rights to John Suits’ (Pandemic, The Scribbler) Breach starring Golden Globe Award® winner Bruce Willis (Glass, Die Hard franchise).  The sci-fi thriller also stars Cody Kearsley (“Riverdale,” Power Rangers), Callan Mulvey (Avengers: Endgame, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), Kassandra Clementi (“UnREAL,” “Home and Away”), Timothy V. Murphy (The Lone Ranger, “Snowpiercer”) and Corey Large (In Like Flynn, The Ninth Passenger).  Danny Roth produced under his Almost Never Films banner along with Corey Large and Edward Drake.

Breach follows a young stowaway (Kearsley) aboard an interstellar ark to New Earth. With the help of a seasoned crewmate (Willis), he must outwit a malevolent cosmic terror intent on using the spaceship as a weapon.  The film was shot in Fitzgerald, GA.  Executive producers are Danny H. Chan for Almost Never Films, Mike Donovan, Ryan Charles Griffin, Mary Aloe and Roger Dorman for Aloe Entertainment, Carlos Velazquez, Benjamin Krause, Stephen Eads, Johnny Messner, Edward Drake, and Elizabeth Zavoyskiy and Andrew Kotliar from MEP Capital, who are also financing.

Bill Bromiley
Bill Bromiley

Bill Bromiley said, “Bruce Willis leads a fantastic cast fighting to survive in this highly suspenseful, action-packed thriller that will keep audiences captivated.”

Bromiley also negotiated the deal for Saban Films along with Danny Roth on behalf of the filmmakers.  Screen Media is handling international rights at the upcoming AFM.

Saban Films continues to grow its presence in the industry, remaining active in the acquisition, production and distribution space. The company’s successes have run the gamut from critically acclaimed theatrical films such as The Homesman starring Hilary Swank, to two of the biggest Fathom events with horror icon and heavy metal mastermind Rob Zombie’s 31 in 2016 and 3 From Hell earlier this month, as well as Kevin Smith’s highly-anticipated Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, the sequel to the 2001 comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back which the company partnered on after coming on board at script stage.  Its upcoming slate includes Steven C. Miller’s Line of Duty; Will Forbes’ John Henry starring Terry Crews and Ludacris and executive produced by Matthew Antoun.

About Saban Films

Saban Films

Saban Films, an affiliate of Saban Capital Group (“SCG”), is a film acquisition and distribution company that acquires high-quality, feature films to distribute in North America.  Focusing on commercial, talent-driven films, the company looks at projects in all stages of production for release across multiple platforms, including a day and date theatrical/VOD release strategy. Based in Los Angeles, Saban Films was established by Haim Saban, SCG Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer, and is led by Bill Bromiley who serves as President, Shanan Becker, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer and Ness Saban, Vice President of Business Development.

(Source: Press release from Rachel Simmons | DDA Group)



Posted by Larry Gleeson


Adam Carolla/Dennis Prager Docudrama Shows Continued Strength At The Box Office

NOVEMBER 11, 2019 (Los Angeles, CA) – Building on a stunning debut in Phoenix which made it the second largest opening for a documentary on a single screen in history after Michael Moore’s Sicko, the free-speech docudrama No Safe Spaces continued to surprise box office watchers by posting solid weekend grosses, outpacing competitors like Zombieland and Downton Abbey on a per screen average basis in its third weekend of release as it continues its rollout.

 The film, co-starring comedian and podcast king Adam Carolla and radio talk show host Dennis Prager continued its market expansion over the weekend in Florida and South Carolina, taking in an estimated $65k and delivering higher per screen average estimates than Zombieland and Downton Abbey, averaging $1,800 on 37 screens, a 12% increase from the previous week. The film will continue to expand next week into Los Angeles, Sacramento, Fresno, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Orlando and San Antonio. 

 In No Safe Spaces Carolla and Prager travel the country, talking to experts and advocates on the left and right, tour college campuses, and examine their own upbringings to try to understand what is happening in America today and what free speech in this country should look (and sound) like.

“We are grateful for everyone giving us so much support as we take this movie into more theaters across America,” said Prager.

Saban Films Game for TIFF Action Thriller GUNS AKIMBO Starring Daniel Radcliffe

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Saban FilmsLOS ANGELES (November 9, 2019) – Saban Films announced today that they have acquired North American rights to writer/director Jason Lei Howden’s (Deathgasm) Guns Akimbo following its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.  The darkly comedic action sci-fi thriller stars Daniel Radcliffe (the Harry Potter franchise, Swiss Army Man, Now You See Me 2), Samara Weaving (Ready or Not, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Rhys Darby (“Flight of the Conchords”, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Natasha Liu Bordizzo (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, “The Society”) and Ned Dennehy (“Good Omens”, “Peaky Blinders”).  Occupant Entertainment’s Joe Neurauter and Felipe Marino and Four Knights Film’s Tom Hern produced.

Guns Akimbo watches a nerdy video game developer (Radcliffe) become the next contestant in an illegal live-streamed death match, in this hilariously dark, viciously violent, and chillingly prescient sci-fi thriller.

“With gaming on the rise, Guns Akimbo is a timely film that will keep audiences on the

Bill Bromiley
Bill Bromiley

edge of their seats,” commented Saban Films’ Bill Bromiley.  “Daniel is in a role you’ve never seen him in before.  He and Samara shine throughout this thought-provoking take on the gaming industry’s future.”


Altitude Film Sales is handling international rights for the film, with Endeavor representing U.S. rights.  Bill Bromiley and Jonathan Saba negotiated the deal for Saban Films along with Altitude on behalf of the filmmakers.

Saban Films continues to grow its presence in the industry, remaining active in the acquisition, production and distribution space. The company’s successes have run the gamut from critically acclaimed theatrical films such as The Homesman starring Hilary Swank, to two of the biggest Fathom events with horror icon and heavy metal mastermind Rob Zombie’s 31 in 2016 and 3 From Hell earlier this month, as well as Kevin Smith’s highly-anticipated Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, the sequel to the 2001 comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back which the company partnered on after coming onboard at script stage.  Its upcoming slate includes: Steven C. Miller’s Line of Duty; Will Forbes’ John Henry starring Terry Crews and Ludacris and executive produced by Matthew Antoun; Darren Lynn Bousman’s Death of Me starring Maggie Q and Luke Hemsworth; and Nicol Paone’s Friendsgiving starring Malin Akerman, Kat Dennings, Chelsea Peretti, Christine Taylor, Golden Globe Award® winner Jane Seymour, Aisha Tyler, Deon Cole, Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho and Fortune Feimsterfdeat.

About Saban Films

Saban Films, an affiliate of Saban Capital Group (“SCG”), is a film acquisition and distribution company which acquires high-quality, feature films to distribute in North America.  Focusing on commercial, talent driven films, the company looks at projects in all stages of production for release across multiple platforms, including a day and date theatrical/VOD release strategy. Based in Los Angeles, Saban Films was established by Haim Saban, SCG Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and is led by Bill Bromiley who serves as President, Shanan Becker, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer and Ness Saban, Vice President of Business Development.

Script to Screen

(Source: Press Release DDA Group | Rachel Simmons

Thai Night Reception at American Film Market 2019

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Thai Night at American Film Market 2019, took place on Friday, November 8th, 2019, at the Colonnade Ballroom, Hotel Casa Del Mar, Santa Monica, California, hosted by the Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce, Royal Thai Government. Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi of Thailand, graciously presided over Thai Night, an evening filled with ambiance and the Thai Royal Princess’s presence as the door to a brilliant and captivating film industry opened.

One of my top World Cinema films comes from Thailand and Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul the 2010 Cannes Palme d’Or winner,  UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES – a layered film delving into the human condition, transformation and annihilation. Since then, the Thai film industry has exploded expanding exponentially becoming the top producing cinema in the region.

In addition to Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi and the Thai Dance Troup, the top eight Thai film companies were on display to inform about filming in Thailand and to showcase Thai films during a cocktail and networking reception. Thai inspired finger foods and canapés and specially crafted Thai Mocktails were all the rage followed by a Thai Select Buffet line. For those who aren’t familiar with the work being done in Thailand, now is an excellent time to check it out!

(To note: One of the first deals announced out of AFM, NEON landed North American rights to Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s latest film, MEMORIA.)





Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies

Thai HollywoodGlee
Larry Gleeson

*Featured Photo: Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi of Thailand (Photo by Larry Gleeson)


Posted by Larry Gleeson

First Green Lit Picture Under Studio 8 and Solstice Strategic Partnership

LOS ANGELES (November 6, 2019) Academy Award® winner Ben Affleck will star in Robert Rodriguez’s mind-bending action thriller Hypnotic. Production is scheduled to start in April. This is the first greenlit film under Studio 8 and Solstice Studios strategic partnership.

Hypnotic is an action thriller directed by Robert Rodriguez (Alita: Battle Angel, Sin City) and written by Rodriguez and Max Borenstein (Godzilla franchise, Kong: Skull Island). The film follows a detective (Affleck) who becomes entangled in a mystery involving his missing daughter and a secret government program–while investigating a string of impossible high-end heists. Rodriguez, Studio 8 CEO Jeff Robinov and his colleagues Guy Danella & John Graham will produce the film with Solstice, which will spearhead US distribution and international sales beginning at the AFM this week.

“Working with Ben on his award-winning projects, including Argo and The Town, I have seen how his versatility and creativity have made him one of the most talented filmmakers both in front of and behind the camera,” said Robinov. “It’s very meaningful to be collaborating with Ben again on this uniquely riveting suspense thriller, and I know he and Robert will make a terrific film together.”

BEN AFFLECK credit John Russo
Ben Affleck (Credit: John Russo)

Affleck is a multiple award-winning actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. He has won two Academy Awards as well as multiple Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. He’s best known for his work directing and starring in the Warner Bros. Best Picture Academy Award ® winner Argo and The Town in which he starred, directed and co-wrote. Previous leading roles include Justice League, The Accountant, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gone Girl and State of Play. He directed Gone Baby Gone and starred in and co-wrote Good Will Hunting. Affleck is represented by William Morris Endeavor (WME).


STUDIO 8 is a filmmaker-driven company focused on building longstanding relationships with filmmakers in order to develop, produce and acquire both potential tentpoles and prestige pictures. STUDIO 8 partners with filmmakers and talent to make possible their unique creative vision and deliver that vision to audiences globally. STUDIO 8 founder and CEO, Jeff Robinov, previously served as an executive at Warner Bros., climbing the ranks to serve as President of Warner Bros. Pictures Group.


Solstice Studios is an independent movie company based in Los Angeles, founded in October 2018. The studio develops, fully finances, produces, sells internationally and distributes feature films in the U.S. on a wide-release basis.  Solstice plans to produce 3-5 movies per year for a global audience—generally in the $20-80M budget range.  It also plans to co-finance or acquire another 1-2 films per year for wide US distribution.  The company has a partnership with Ingenious Media.  Solstice recently completed production of its first feature film, Unhinged starring Russell Crowe and Caren Pistorius opening August 28, 2020.

The Solstice team has a $5 billion production track record and is expected to grow to 65 people. The company’s senior team includes President & CEO Mark Gill, Head of Production Lisa Ellzey, Co-Production Head Guy Botham, Marketing/Strategy Head Vincent Bruzzese, Acquisitions & International Head Crystal Bourbeau, Business & Legal Affairs Head Karen Barna, Chief Financial Officer Shaun Williams and Head of US Distribution Shari Hardison.


FILM REVIEW: Sharkwater Extinction (Rob Stewart, 2018) USA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Ocean conservationist, Rob Stewart, delivers an unprecedented look into the global Screen Shot 2019-10-27 at 7.05.09 PMdecimation of the ocean’s top predator, the shark. Stewart opens Sharkwater Extinction in spectacular fashion with exquisite underwater cinematography showcasing the innate beauty of what lies below the ocean’s surface. A voice-over narrator informs the viewer of the massive amount of shark being stripped from the planet’s aquatic ecosystem. Stewart suggests that in the last 30 years sharks have been hunted losing 90% of their population. Moreover, 150 million sharks are killed every year with scientists only accounting for 70-80 million with the rest being killed, more than likely, by poachers. Sharkwater Extinction is a follow-up from Stewart’s 2006 film Sharkwater. Sharkwater brought to the public’s consciousness the global shark epidemic created by the demand for a Chinese delicacy, Sharkfin Soup.

According to testimonials in Sharkwater Extinction, shark meat is the most toxic of fish meat as they are at the top of the predatory food chain. Nevertheless, shark meat has made its way into the world’s food supply chain often being labeled as flake or blackfish among other names. In addition, shark meat was found in pet foods and in cosmetics. Sharks and shark fins are a high-dollar commodity and, with the Costa Rican government turning a blind eye, the industry is booming. With an investigative reporter’s acumen, Stewart discovers a large number of fins are shipped, flown and stored in Costa Rica by a well-connected businessman who purportedly owns hotels, restaurants, docks, and boats. In addition, global mafia players use Costa Rica as a shipping hub much like a UPS or Fed Ex facility. Stewart also visits Panama, Miami and Los Angeles (Santa Monica Bay). Interestingly, Stewart shoots footage of a shark facility in Panama where a worker informs Stewart of shark fins to sell for $5 and shark meat for fifty cents a pound. By the time the fin reaches mainland China the fin has a retail value of $200.

I especially liked the opening scene of Sharkwater Extinction as we see a diver, Rob Stewart, the film’s leading character, scuba diving with fish and sharks in a beautifully composed shot – and there are many more exquisitely filmed underwater scenes. I also liked the testimonials from Stewart as he periodically directly addressed the camera on the situation in several regions around the globe beginning with Costa Rica. Moreover, I appreciated his informative approach as the Costa Rican government decides to no longer support the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), thereby allowing international cargo air shipments to resume further decimating the planet’s shark population.

 Shockingly, Stewart perishes in a diving mishap off the Florida Keys before the completion of Sharkwater Extinction. Nevertheless, Stewart delivers a hopeful message that we as a global force can right the ship and keep the 400-450-million-year-old top predator in existence continuing its role in safeguarding and keeping balance in the ocean’s delicate eco-system. Stewart cites the rapid response from young activists in expanding shark protections after his 2006 Sharkwater and the implementation from governments around the globe in enacting legislation to protect the world’s top predator. Unfortunately, the protections are no longer being fully enforced as the short-term economic benefits have clouded any longer-term visions. Through Sharkwater Extinction, Rob Stewart’s voice lives on. Highly recommended viewing!

Cinémoi TV Acquires Worldwide Rights to “The Power of Beauty” That Spotlights HumanTrafficking

Posted by Larry Gleeson

For Immediate Release 

Cinémoi TV Acquires Worldwide Rights to Gripping Human Interest Story “The Power of Beauty” That Spotlights Human Trafficking 

Vignette Featured in Documentary “Tomorrow and The Butterfly” to Premiere on Cinémoi on October 28 at 10 pm EST

Los Angeles, October 25, 2019 –  Cinémoi TV has acquired the worldwide rights (excluding Asia) to the compelling short film “The Power of Beauty,” part of the feature-length documentary “Tomorrow and The Butterfly,” directed by award-winning Italian filmmaker Alessandro Soetje and produced by Soetje and sustainable global beauty brand Davines

Currently on the festival circuit, “Tomorrow and The Butterfly” is comprised of six vignettes that tell stories of sustainability, beauty, individuality and diversity around the world that converge with Davide Bollati, Chairman of The Davines Group, illustrating his vision and brand ethos. The film was shortlisted for the Branded Content of the Year prize at the Content Innovation Awards, held recently in Cannes, has been named an official selection of Around International Film Festival, Paris and Amsterdam editions, and Polish International Film Festival, and will be featured as part of the Berlin Italian Film Festival this November.

“The Power of Beauty” will premiere on Cinémoi TV on October 28 at 10 pm EST,  on Comcast Xfinity, Fios by Verizon, Frontier, Sling TV, Google Play and Samsung.

The Power of Beauty” Official Trailer:

“The Power of Beauty” is set in Cambodia and features Matthew Fairfax, an entrepreneur in the hairdressing world, who works to save youth who are human trafficking survivors by giving them the redemptive opportunity to pursue a career in the beauty industry.

Matthew Fairfax peers out over the water. (Pictures courtesy of Davines)

“I tell people I didn’t pick Cambodia. Cambodia picked me,” explains Fairfax about his sudden decision to move to Cambodia and help human trafficking survivors build new lives. Fairfax founded an academy, the Kate Korpi Salon, a Western-style, high-end salon created specifically for the purpose of educating sex traffic survivors and underprivileged Cambodian youth, who would have never had such an opportunity. The film follows the lives of two students, Srey Mom Sao and Sok Peter Vanndy, each of whom has experienced a traumatic past. They are the first two students to graduate from the Academy. “They were the pioneers, they were the teachers, they taught us how to do what we are doing,” comments Fairfax. The camera follows Sao and Vanndy throughout the days leading up to their graduation and during the ceremony itself. Viewers experience their raw emotions and the difference between their personalities and what also emerges with great clarity is the resiliency of the human spirit with the right nurturing and support. “That’s the power of beauty,” says Fairfax.

Sreymom Sao 1
Srey Mom Sao
Sok Peter Vanndy 3
Sok Peter Vanndy

“Cinémoi is dedicated to bringing people together in support of the life-changing work of our charity Children Uniting Nations.  We believe that it’s vital to protect all children who suffer from abuse and tragedy due to circumstances beyond their control,” comments Cinémoi President, Daphna Ziman. “The Power of Beauty truly complements our mission to help and draw attention to the plight of the underserved youth of Cambodia and around the world, who often have no other options and are forced to enter the sex trade.”

“Tomorrow and The Butterfly” is composed of a prologue, an epilogue, and six episodes, including “The Power of Beauty.” 

About Cinémoi – Cinémoi is fast becoming a leader in the film, fashion, and luxury lifestyle industry, delivering exquisite innovative television network content dedicated to curated programming, including both modern and classic films, fashion films, fashion weeks around the globe, popular talk shows, film festivals, and international lifestyle content. The network is currently available on Comcast Xfinity, Fios by Verizon, Frontier, Sling TV, Google Play and Samsung.

About The Davines Group – Founded in Parma, Italy in 1983 by the Bollati Family, The Davines Group started as a research laboratory, producing high-end hair care products for renowned cosmetic companies worldwide. After a decade of honing our expertise, we began creating our own brand of Davines hair care products exclusively for salons, and in 1996 founded [ comfort zone ] skin care for premier spas. Our skincare lines were further expanded in 2018 when the /skin regimen/ brand was born. We are now a B Corp and have an international presence in more than 90 countries with a multicultural staff. In addition to the main office in Parma – the Davines Village – we have offices in New York, London, Paris, Mexico City, Deventer (Netherlands), and Hong Kong. Our purpose in life is to be the best for the world, creators of good life for all, through beauty, ethics, and sustainability.

Contact: Nicole Goesseringer Muj | | 310-804-0964



NashFilm’s 50th Anniversary Festival: Celebrating With Style

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Another big night on the red carpet at the 50th Nashville Film Festival:  Actors Clare Bowen & Charles Esten, Musician; Brandon Robert Young; Hit Songwriters Shane McAnally, Luke Laird; Reggae Artist Gramps Morgan, Legend Kathy Matea, NashFest’s own Jason Padgitt, and more!

Photos by Donny Evan


Full House

Bluebird VIP


Song Names

The Song of Names | Directed by Francois Girard
Starring Tim Roth and Clive Owen
Sponsored by the Nashville Jewish Film Festival
Thu. Oct 10, 7:00 PM

Martin Simmonds (Tim Roth) is haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his extraordinary best friend, a Polish Jewish virtuoso violinist, Dovidl Rapaport, who vanished shortly before the 1951 London debut concert that would have launched his brilliant career. Thirty-five years later, Martin discovers that Dovidl (Clive Owen) may still be alive, and sets out on an obsessive intercontinental search to find him and learn why he left. TICKETS

Honey Boy

Honey Boy | Directed by Alma Har’el
Screenplay by Shia LaBeouf; Starring Shia LaBeouf, Tennessee Premier, Sundance
Thu. Oct 10, 8 PM

Honey Boy tells the story of a young actor’s stormy childhood and young adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father and deal with his mental health. LaBeouf plays a version of his own father, an ex-rodeo clown and a felon. Har’el’s feature narrative is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between filmmaker and subject, exploring art as medicine through the life and times of a talented, traumatized performer who dares to go in search of himself. TICKETS 

River Rose

Once Upon a River | Directed by Haroula Rose
Thu. Oct 10, 5:00 PM
Fri. Oct 11, 3:00 PM

Based upon the best-selling novel by Bonnie Jo Campbell, Once Upon A River tells the story of a Native American teenager, Margo Crane, in 1970s rural Michigan. Margo is forced to journey on the Stark River in search of her estranged mother played by Lindsay Pulsipher (Hatfields & McCoys, True Blood). As she uses the skills she was taught to hunt, survive and fend for herself, Margo strikes an unlikely friendship. She will need to stay true to herself and create her own sense of family. Also featuring Sam Straley (The Kids Are Alright), Ajuawak Kapashesit (Indian Horse) and Kenn E. Head (ER, Chicago Fire), with original songs by Will Oldham, JD Souther, and Rodney Crowell, Peter Bradley Adams and filmmaker Haroula Rose. TICKETS

Dark Suns

Dark Suns | Directed by Julien Elie: Tennessee Premiere
Thu Oct 10, 5:30 PM
Fri Oc 11, 12:00 PM

Shot in stark monochrome, Dark Suns chronicles the hundreds of murders of women, journalists, students, and activists in Mexico since the 1990s, and the insidious culture of cartel violence and state corruption behind them. From the notorious femicides in Ciudad Juárez at the northern border to the murders of journalists in Veracruz in the south, director Julien Elie traces a path of organized and unpunished criminality that involves collusion with governments on both sides of the border. TICKETS 


Dorien has everything to be happy: a successful husband, two adorable children and a booming veterinary practice. One day, she discovers her mother’s long-running love affair, her husband’s uncomfortable closeness to a colleague, and a lump in her breast. She needs someone to talk to but no one will listen. Is this truly the life she dreamt of? The Best of Dorien B. is a comedy-drama about a woman who rediscovers herself amid the chaos. TICKETS


Climate of the Hunter | Directed by Mickey Reece
Fri. Oct 11, 9:00 PM

Reece’s narratives and characters are complicated and so very human. And, just as you settle into his film, he tilts it “wonderfully off its axis”. Two sisters come to their remote house to reconnect with a friend after twenty years. When the three get together for dinner it has all the makings of a lovely adult melodrama about loneliness and the desire to connect. But then, Reece adds to the mix: Wesley could be a vampire. TICKETS



(Source: NashFilm news release)

NashFilm Creators Conference – HBO Panel

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The Nashville Film Festival’s Creators Conference was highlighted Saturday by a keynote panel with HBO’s Len Amato and Evyen J. Klean, providing key insights into how ideas are chosen by the network giant and brought to life. The perspectives of HBO’s President of Film, Miniseries and Cinemax Programming Len Amato and Emmy winning producer and music supervisor Evyen J. Klean were shared on topics including how “greenlight” decisions are made and the artistic balance of film and music that can lead to successful films. The Nashville Film Festival runs through Saturday, Oct. 12.

Len Amato HBO

(Source: NashFilm press release)

FILM REVIEW: Chuck Berry (World Premiere) #NashFilm50

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Chuck Berry, directed by Ron Brewer, made its world premiere at the 50th Anniversary Screen Shot 2019-10-04 at 10.36.37 PMof the Nashville Film Festival, Friday, October 4, 2019, Regal Hollywood ScreenX & RPX Cinema – Nashville. Berry, an extraordinary entertainer, ushered in the era of rock-n-roll, with a showmanship that has often been imitated and rarely duplicated.

Brewer does his homework as he sheds light on the man and career that shaped and molded the British invasion during the 1960’s in a predominantly chronological treatment. Complete with archival footage of Berry and numerous rock-n-roll legends including Steven Van Zandt, Keith Richards, Joe Perry, Joe Bonamassa, George Thoroughgood, Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper and additional archival footage of Jerry Lee Lewis draw a picture of a era- defining career.

Chuck Berry opens in a highly stylized, animated treatment as the audience is introduced to the the film’s subject. Berry a St. Louis, Missouri, native had an energy that seemed to lack the necessary resources to meet his personal needs. Consequently, periods of incarceration defined Berry’s young adult life.

As often is the case, legends of Berry’s stature myths become truth. Not so with Chuck Berry, as those who inhabited Berry’s orbit tell the story beginning with Berry’s wife, Themetta, and continued with his son, Charles Berry, Jr., and daughter, Ingrid Berry. Brewer aids the telling of the story with a voice-over-narrator, still photos – both in color and black and white, animation, interviews and a treasure trove of cultural artifacts including a 1964 St. Louis Federation of Musicians union card.

A long-time idol of the suave Nat King Cole, young Berry tried to imitate Cole’s style.Screen Shot 2019-10-04 at 10.37.40 PM Realizing, Cole’s unique talent, Berry began experimenting with a more percussive style in his guitar playing. According to Nile Rodgers this is where the music of Chuck Berry made the crossover from blues to rock-n-roll. Chicago-based Chess records got wind of Berry’s talent and star potential and began promoting Berry’s music. “Maybelline” “authored” by the payola king, Allen Fried, hit the airwaves and became Chess Records first major hit.

Berry’s lyrical music was often referred to as poetic, telling a full story in three minutes. Many still refer to Berry as the Poet Laureate of Rock-n-roll. And, if that’s not enough of a cultural impact, consider the number of baby boomers, black and white teens, hearing the music and dancing together!

Seemingly, Berry realized his talent and its monetary worth demanding cash upfront before his performances. Berry began investing in real estate and by the late 1960’s created Berry Park with a 17,000 square foot mansion and the world’s first guitar shaped swimming pool. Unfortunately, Berry’s financial reporting came under scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service. In addition, Berry created some powerful adversaries.

Local St. Louis businessman, theatre owner, developer and proprietor of Blueberry Hill (the home of Berry’s last show), Joe Edwards, reminisced on Berry’s enormous impact on the local music scene and lamented the impact racism had on Berry’s career and personal life. On the nearby University City Delmar Loop Walk of Fame, the name “Chuck Berry” adorns star number one.

Unquestionably, Berry’s music and showmanship will stand the test of time. Chuck Berry ensures Chuck Berry the man is given his rightful due. Highly recommended!

*It is a tribute to both Chuck Berry and the 50th Nashville Film Festival to premiere Chuck Berry.