Let’s talk about how unpredictable 2020 is. Yes, again. This is our version of small talk now. I had a whole plan to center this trailer roundup around Christmas movies and TV shows since this week will feature a noticeable amount of holiday trailers. But then, early this morning, HBO Max sent a press release with a trailer for a pretty big deal event. You know the one—it’s “fresh,” and it involves Will Smith. That’s like a rising comedian being bumped by Chris Rock. So, I had to pivot. Speaking of which, let’s get to that trailer and more...
First Impressions: I’d like to take a minute just sit right there, I’ll tell you all about how much I care...about this reunion!! In typical Will Smith fashion, the “Fresh Prince” himself dropped a trailer for the much-anticipated event where the cast looks like they’re going to happily reminisce, honor the late James Avery and even recreate one of their most iconic behind-the-scenes moments. And yes, there’s a quick Janet Hubert tease toward the end. *Birdman handrub*
First Impressions: You know the Christmas movie drill! Take a metropolitan protagonist out of their comfort zone and toss them into a small town and you have yourself a sappy Hallmark holiday movie! The Christmas Doctor stars Holly Robinson Peete and Adrian Holmes.
First Impressions: “Music and marijuana go together,” Nas says at the top of the trailer. This two-hour documentary will explore and examine “marijuana’s cultural, social, economic and legal impact on American society and the Black community.” Innovators in the legal weed industry, policymakers, advocates and experts such as Senator (and now Vice President-Elect) Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Cook County, Illinois State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Representative Barbara Lee, Ty Dolla $ign, The Notorious B.I.G.’s son C.J. Wallace and more appear in the doc with their own testimonies.
First Impressions: This film explores Manchester’s (United Kingdom) vogue ballroom scene. Yes, I combed through this trailer looking for some Black LGBTQ+ representation because you can’t chronicle the scene without it. As you can see from my choice to include this trailer, it’s there! As the synopsis notes, this doc will explore Black-specific topics such as the disenfranchisement of Black youth. Deep In Vogue has already screened in many virtual festivals this year, but more folks will be able to indulge come December.
First Impressions: From ageless executive producer, (and now, skincare mogul) Pharrell Williams, Voices of Fire follows the music enthusiast in his hometown as he, Bishop Ezekiel and a team of experts explore the Hampton Roads community to build “one of the world’s most inspiring gospel choirs.” From the looks of the trailer, the team is specifically looking to make sure the choir is made up of true diversity.
First Impressions: I know you see that whole-ass white man in the thumbnail, but let’s focus on the “& Friends” part of the title because the special will feature performances by Sam Jay, Keith Robinson and Marina Franklin. Get into these Black comedians if you’re not already familiar!
Cap (Apollo Theater and ImageNation’s “Black Life Matters: A Program of Short Films & Conversation”; Release Date: Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. ET)
First Impressions: Taking place on the Apollo Digital Stage, the Apollo Theater will feature a variety of virtual programs, including “Black Life Matters: A Program of Short Films & Conversation.” One of the films in the program is the critically acclaimed short film Cap, directed by Marshall Tyler, which “follows a family after their 15-year-old son brings home a $300 hat, and addresses the intersecting issues of materialism and violence, and their impact on American youth.”
Mama Gloria (Digital Screenings via Human Rights Campaign; Release Date: Nov. 16-18)
First Impressions: Directed by Luchina Fisher, Mama Gloria chronicles Chicago’s trailblazing Black trans elder icon and activist Gloria Allen. I know this 74-year-old legend has lived and I’m definitely adding this doc to my watchlist. Following the Human Rights Campaign screenings, the film will also begin an open-ended theatrical run at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago on Nov. 20, which is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. On Nov. 21, Fisher and Allen will speak after a screening of the film at the Teaneck International Film Festival in New Jersey.
First Impressions: The film’s tagline is “you get one time, to be big time,” which sounds like a caption on Instagram written by a CEO of a company that they just started yesterday (yet they grind while you sleep!). Based on the book trilogy by Teri Woods and directed by Preston Whitmore (This Christmas), Dutch stars Lance Gross, Jeremy Meeks, Macy Gray, Natasha Marc, Tyrin Turner, Melissa Williams and James Hyde with appearances by Michael Blackson, O.T. Genasis, Renny and Gunna. Oh yeah, this is gonna be Black as hell.
First Impressions: OK, so I’m kind of cheating here by featuring a promo trailer for multiple projects, but Oprah Winfrey always does it big! Starting this month, DeVon Franklin and Meagan Good will host OWN’s first-ever gospel music special Our OWN Christmas on Dec. 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, followed by a holiday season worth of classics and new original films alike. One of those original films, A Christmas for Mary (Dec. 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT), is featured in this very promo. So, save the date for December because that’s when you’ll get to see it. Other upcoming films include Cooking Up Christmas (Dec. 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT) and First Christmas (Dec. 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT).
First Impressions: This is Black excellence, y’all! This special presentation from the Uncensored series will focus on the “Best of Black Hollywood” and feature folks such as Paula Patton, Nia Long, Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell, Tyra Banks and Nick Cannon. I’m ready for the legendary tea!
First Impressions: Directed by Emmy-nominated Michèle Stephenson, Stateless chronicles the 2013 ruling where the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court stripped the citizenship of anyone with Haitian parents, retroactive to 1929, which is linked to what is known as the Parsley Massacre in 1937. The doc will follow a young attorney named Rosa Iris and the grassroots campaign fighting against electoral corruption. As I am not well-versed in this history and the ruling that still affects Haitians today, I’m very interested in checking this one out.
First Impressions: The brand has a face for radio! Desus & Mero hosts Desus Nice (Daniel Baker) and The Kid Mero (Joel Martinez) will transform their standard studio “into an old-school radio station and focus on the history of hip hop, featuring special guests including Busta Rhymes, Sheila E, City Girls, Juicy J and Cam’ron” and the show will include listener calls, too! Oh and in case you didn’t see just how much these two lovable hosts have been winning, Desus and Mero finally did the most epic Bronx thing ever and officially partnered with Timberland.
Affion Crockett: Mirror II Society (LOL Network; Now Streaming)
First Impressions: Affion Crockett is known for his well-done celebrity impressions so it’s pretty fitting that the title of his new special riffs off of another project, Menace II Society. This will be Crockett’s first-ever long-form special and will debut on Kevin Hart’s LOL Network. Crockett will also serve as executive producer of the special. We need the laughs.
First Impressions: This doc follows the work of Dr. Jess Ting at Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York City, which is now where all transgender and nonbinary people have access to quality gender-affirming health and surgical care for the first time ever. In this trailer, I see some Black representation, so I’m hoping the doc explores the intersections of the issues surrounding transgender and nonbinary healthcare access in-depth.
First Impressions: Yep, Disney/Pixar stan here, present and accounted for tuning into this doc as soon as possible. I see some Black animators (hey, Frank Abney!), story artists, etc., too! We’re inching toward the premiere of Pixar’s first film with a Black lead, Soul (speaking of which, I saw those quick frames of co-director Kemp Powers in this trailer!), so I’m hoping they dig deep into the issues surrounding diversity in the animated industry.
Kinderfänger (Crypt TV; Now Streaming, New Episodes Every Friday)
First Impressions: Starring Angel Theory (The Walking Dead), Kinderfänger follows a deaf woman named Olivia (Theory), a music teacher who goes on a mission to fight against an ancient evil force known as the Kinderfänger (who controls the minds of children via a song played on a pipe and has a mission to assemble an “army of troubled souls”) takes one of her students. Y’all see this double representation in the horror genre, though?! Love it.
First Impressions: Starring Rayven Ferrell, Tequan Richmond, Miguel Nunez, Tetona Jockson and Johnell Young, Blood on Her Badge is based on true crime events and follows an eager young cop who falls in love with a nigga and corrupt cop shenanigans ensue.
Until the Flood (All Arts; New York Release Date: Nov. 15 at 10 p.m. ET)
First Impressions: Writer-performer Dael Orlandersmith’s one-woman show explores Ferguson and its community after Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in 2014. The show will broadcast for New York-era audiences on the All Arts station.
First Impressions: Hosted by Chris Spencer, All The Way Black will take you Blackity-back into time and all of the most iconic Black pop culture moments of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. Guests stars include Kevin Frazier, Flex Alexander, Donnell Rawlings, LisaRaye McCoy and Torrei Hart. That’s pretty damn Black.
First Impressions: A Christmas Tree Grows In Colorado follows Erin (Rochelle Aytes) who is planning the town’s Christmas celebration and she must win over firefighter Kevin (Mark Taylor) because she covets the beautiful spruce tree on his property. I bet she’ll win over his heart, too! Holiday Black Love!
Unapologetic (2020 DOC NYC; Screening Dates: Nov. 11-19)
First Impressions: Unapologetic chronicles “the lives and work of two Black queer millennial women as they challenge the city of Chicago’s administration in the fight for Black lives through organizing.” Shout out to my hometown and the organizers constantly doing this important work. Along with DOC NYC, the documentary will continue its festival run at Black Harvest Film Festival (Nov. 7-20), The DocYard (Nov. 13-19), New Orleans Film Festival (Nov. 6-22), St. Louis International Film Festival (Nov. 5-22), Cucalorus Festival (Nov. 22) and Image+Nation LGBTQ+ Montréal (Nov. 19-Dec. 6).
First Impressions: Resist follows the grassroots organizers fighting against the 2018 Los Angeles county’s $3.5 billion jail expansion plan. “This series is more timely than ever with LA County’s recent victories—with [George] Gascon taking the DA race, Measure J being passed, the defeat of Proposition 25 and the incredible Yes on 17 win,” Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors said in a statement via a press release sent to The Root. “I am proud that our local organizing work has had so much impact, while we should celebrate and reflect, we still have much to do. These milestones are stepping stones to shaping a better system not only in the largest jailer in the world, but for the entire country. This is just the beginning, but I am optimistic on what is yet to come.” The documentary series will premiere for free on Cullors’ official YouTube channel.
First Impressions: This one is from the showrunner of reality show sensation Love Is Blind (Sam Dean) and there’s some Black-ass representation including Natasha Rothwell (Insecure) narrating and...who is that shirtless Santa around the 29-second mark?! Basically, 12 Dates of Christmas is trying to recreate your cutesy holiday rom-com in real life. Yeah, this will definitely be the mindless entertainment I need to round out the year.
First Impressions: This is for the inspiring sports film fans! Disney is bringing back that Remember the Titans energy with Safety, based on Clemson University football safety Ray McElrathbey who overcomes several challenges and adversities, all while raising his 11-year-old brother Fahmarr. Oh yeah, this about to be a tearjerker.
First Impressions: Political analyst Zerlina Maxwell is doing her thing over at Peacock and offering in-depth conversations in politics and current events. In the latest episode titled “The 91 Percent: A conversation on the political power—and future—of Black women,” Maxwell spoke with Former Senior Advisor to President Obama Valerie Jarrett about the historic significance of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (and the record voter turnout that led to this result) as well as what Black women specifically expect from a Biden-Harris administration.
Lastly, in case you missed it, I wrote about The Ride trailer because it deserved its own special dragging. ‘Til next week, folks!