2020’s Urbanworld Movie Pageant Felt Extra Pressing than Ever

2020’s Urbanworld Film Festival Felt More Urgent than Ever

On Sunday night, The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain received the prize for greatest narrative characteristic at this 12 months’s Urbanworld Movie Pageant—the five-day, New York-based occasion that, like so many different festivals, went digital in 2020 as a result of pandemic. The movie, written and directed by David Midell, relies on the true story of Chamberlain, a 68-year-old retired Marine who by chance triggered his personal medical alert necklace, then was shot and killed by law enforcement officials who have been dispatched to his residence in 2011. It tragically fits the second, having hit the pageant circuit only a few months after the police killing of George Floyd triggered months of anti-police brutality protests. 

The jury’s resolution was unanimous. “Throughout the board, everybody felt that it was deservedly the winner,” mentioned Gabrielle Glore, the pageant’s director and head of programming, of the movie. “The performances throughout, the best way it was shot, the timeliness—this occurs far too typically. I’m actually happy that it took the highest prize.”

There have been 9 different prizes introduced Sunday, together with greatest documentary to Alice Gu’s The Donut King, greatest internet authentic to Sam Bailey’s East of LaBrea, and greatest narrative characteristic (world cinema) to South African director Carmen Sangion’s Salvation. Per Glore, this 12 months’s lineup touted choices from throughout 25 nations. 

The prizes cap off a run of digital occasions, which included digital appearances from Stacey Abrams, in assist of the brand new documentary All In: The Battle for Democracy; Lena Waithe, who stars in Justin Simien’s Hulu horror comedy Unhealthy Hair; and David Oyelowo, whose characteristic directorial debut The Water Man opened the pageant and whose upcoming Disney movie Come Away—a fantastical prequel film concerning the tales of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan which he produced and co-starred in alongside Angelina Jolie—closed the pageant on Sunday evening. 

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For Glore, having Oyelowo open and shut the pageant was a full circle second. Again in 2016, he and director Ava DuVernay turned Urbanworld ambassadors, touting the Oscar-qualifying pageant’s bonafides on the broader movie circuit. It was additionally a possibility to indicate the totally different modes Oyelowo has developed through the years as a producer and director. 

“To have the ability to assist David as a producer was essential,” Glore mentioned. “He’s actually advancing his profession offscreen.”

This 12 months’s Urbanworld was, like many different main festivals this 12 months, a digital occasion, screening 98 official alternatives. For Glore, going digital wasn’t with out its difficulties, however it had a powerful silver lining: having the ability to display extra content material than ever earlier than. “We weren’t confined to 4 theaters at AMC 42nd road in Instances Sq.,” Glore mentioned. 

For the longtime programmer, one among this 12 months’s many highlights included internet hosting a dialog between Hollywood Shuffle writer-director Robert Townsend and rising multi-hyphenate Radha Clean, whose upcoming Netflix comedy The Forty-12 months-Outdated Model was deeply impressed by Townsend’s basic. Moments like that made it crucial to discover a approach to press on and stick with it with the pageant, which was established in 1997 by founder Stacy Spikes. “[There was] undoubtedly a way of urgency,” Glore mentioned of 2020 programming plans. “I couldn’t think about a 12 months with out Urbanworld taking place.”

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