Monday, September 24, 2012

Urbanworld FF: Middle of Nowhere

The Urbanworld Film Festival is a showcase for filmmakers and actors of color, presented at the AMC 34th Street in New York City. For more information on the festival and to see the full 2012 schedule of films, visit the website.

Emayatzy Corinealdi
The truth is, I did not see Middle of Nowhere under the best of circumstances. The Saturday night show was a sell-out. While I was taking pictures from the red carpet, the lobby was quickly filling up with ticket holders and VIPs with all-access passes. I was actually warned of this by a woman whom I met in between shows on Saturday afternoon, and I believed it, given the excitement generated by this film. 

By my reckoning there were at least two lines: one for ticket holders and the other for all-access pass holders. I was told I could get on the latter with my press pass, so I did, but the lines were malformed and spread out over a great deal of limited space. Then we had to wait. And wait. And wait. Show time was eight PM, but we went well past that, and some people on my line were getting ticked off. The woman in front of me (who claimed to be from HBO) went up front to investigate, and she was told that the film arrived late and director Ava DuVernay was running a sound check. Arrived late? Really? 

Everyone REALLY wanted
to see 'Nowhere.'
On top of all that, when they finally let us in, there was more than a little confusion; they seemed to be alternating between the VIPs and the ticket holders, which was annoying the ones with large advance passes. As far as I could tell, everyone got in, but between the long wait and the confusing order of the lines, it was more than a little stressful. 

I ended up sitting in the second row, which was great for taking pictures afterwards at the Q-and-A, but not so much for watching the film - especially this film, which has a whole lot of close-ups, so not only could I see every pore, hair and blemish on the actors' faces, but I felt like I was looking up their noses as well! 

Corinealdi, right, with director
Ava DuVernay at the Q-and-A
Plus, it was the end of a long day for me personally, and though I didn't nod off, I was physically tired - and this is a quiet, introspective film that requires a good deal of attention. So what I'm saying is that I'm gonna have to watch this film again when it comes out next month in order to write about it properly. In the meantime, however, I can provide a few impressions.

Nowhere is about a woman who struggles to help her imprisoned husband get released early. At the same time, she's being pursued by a different man. Visually, this looks quite different from DuVernay's previous film, I Will Follow. Her DP was Bradford Young, who worked on the breathtaking Restless City and other films that played Urbanworld in the past, and also Pariah. He gives Nowhere an artier feel than Follow. Remember his name; I firmly believe this is only the beginning for him.

L-R: DuVernay, Corinealdi, producer
Paul Garnes, and DP Bradford Young
Newcomer Emayatzy Corinealdi (em-ee-YAHT-zee kor-en-AHL-dee) carries the film and carries it very well, backed by a strong cast that includes Omari Hardwick and David Oyelowo, who's been everywhere lately and has lots more work coming up. In DuVernay's script, you feel one way about certain characters, then you feel another way, and you're never completely sure which way to stand with them. I'm fairly certain there are a few things I missed, story-wise, hence my desire to see this again. Do I recommend it? Yes, because this is black filmmaking on a higher level and it needs to be supported.

Being Mary Jane
Dar He: The Lynching of Emmett Till
Won't Back Down
Soul Food Junkies
The Last Fall


  1. I wasn't late. Thanks for giving it another chance. And sorry you had a wack experience. Ever onward, Ava DuVernay

  2. I meant the film, not you. Sorry if that was unclear.

    Thanks for responding, though. I'll definitely write about the film again.


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