Judas and the Black Messiah

Director: Shaka King Run Time: 126 min. Rating: R Release Year: 2021

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Dominique Fishback, Jesse Plemons, LaKeith Stanfield

Country: United States
Language: English


Screening as part of Awards Season Weekend at the Center.  Passes include reserved seating at all in person screenings and the watch party for the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony on April 25.

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Intense, infuriating and indisputably timely… the powerful film puts the current moment into fresh historical context”

– Peter DeBruge for Variety

About the film:

Premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2021. Earned six nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor for both LaKeith Stanfield and recent Golden Globe winner Daniel Kaluuya.

FBI informant William O’Neal infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and is tasked with keeping tabs on their charismatic leader, Chairman Fred Hampton. A career thief, O’Neal revels in the danger of manipulating both his comrades and his handler, Special Agent Roy Mitchell. Hampton’s political prowess grows just as he’s falling in love with fellow revolutionary Deborah Johnson.

Meanwhile, a battle wages for O’Neal’s soul. Will he align with the forces of good? Or subdue Hampton and The Panthers by any means, as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover commands?

About the filmmakers:

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Shaka King is a writer, director and producer of films that entertain while directly challenging the culture of racism in America. Two of his short films were selected by the Sundance Film Festival – the 2015 short film Mulignans, a poignant satire of racial dynamics, and Vimeo Staff Pick LaZercism, his 2017 riff on the “racial glaucoma” that prevents white people from seeing people of color. His debut feature, the 2013 dark comedy Newlyweeds, premiered at Sundance and won him the Someone to Watch grant at the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Along with Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler, King helped launch #BlackoutBlackFriday in 2014, urging a day of activism rather than a day of shopping. He helped to organize a reading of Spike Lee’s screenplay for Do the Right Thing and produced online content, including a powerful video explaining why “Emerald Garner Can’t Buy Her Dad a Christmas Present This Year.”

King co-wrote the screenplay for his second feature film, Judas and the Black Messiah, with Will Berson based on a story by brothers Kenny and Keith Lucas. Read about the intensely collaborative journey of Black filmmakers and industry professionals in an article by Reggie Ugwu for The New York Times, and watch King in conversation with Sundance Institute on the power of art to change history.

Learn more about this year’s Awards Season
MAJOR SUPPORT
Ohio Arts Council
Greater Columbus Arts Council
The Columbus Foundation
Campus Partners
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WOSU Public Media

Trailer