DIRECTOR: Patrik-Ian Polk

Expected to attend: Actor/Producer Mo’Nique, Director Patrik-Ian Polk, Actor Julian Walker, Producers Keith Brown and Carol Ann Shine

Adapted from Larry Duplechan’s beloved novel of the same name, Blackbird reunites the creative team behind Frameline24’s Closing Night hit Punks, who join forces with established veterans of independent American cinema and a talented ensemble of newcomers.

In small-town Mississippi, high school choirboy Randy is practically a perfect saint: a virgin who prays regularly and takes care of his devout but unhinged mother, he doesn’t curse, drink, or indulge in pleasures of the flesh. Unfortunately, Randy also can’t stop having fantasies that Jesus might not approve of. Waking up in a bed full of unholy emissions after dreaming about the high school football star, Randy frantically searches to save his soul. This is not your typical case of denial, since many around Randy presume he’s gay and don’t fuss. But while his friends are losing their virginity left and right, Randy is in a mighty struggle for self-acceptance—a struggle that must confront his Baptist religion, Southern values, and African American culture.

During a momentous semester that will push Randy toward new and surprising discoveries, he finds himself in a non-traditional production of Romeo & Juliet, a student film that pairs him with a potential love interest, and a slow reconciliation with his long-absent father. Filled with warm gospel interludes and warm-hearted views of Southern religious life, Blackbird stars Academy Award winner Mo’Nique (Precious) as Randy’s mess of a mother, Gotham Award nominee Isaiah Washington (Blue Caprice, Grey’s Anatomy) as Randy’s estranged father, and newcomer Julian Walker, whose voice soars as Randy.

Writer-director Patrik-Ian Polk (The Skinny, Noah’s Arc) and co-writer Rikki Beadle-Blair (Metrosexuality, FIT) craft a heartfelt look at a teen coming of age in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, against the backdrop of a broken family held together by faith and community.

— Angelique Smith

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: F106

Co-presented by:
Museum of the African Diaspora
NIA Collective
Oakland Pride

Sponsor: Gilead

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