The American Black Film Festival and the U.S./ U.K. production company Lightbox announced Muta’Ali’s Storm Over Brooklyn is the recipient of their first annual documentary film development fund. The doc is expected to be funded and finished in order to world premiere at the 23rd annual American Black Film Festival in Miami in June 2019.
Sponsored by 21st Century Fox and National Geographic, the ABFF Lightbox Documentary Initiative was launched earlier this year to support and foster documentary filmmakers with diverse voices and perspectives. Over 200 films were submitted.
“2019 will mark the 30th anniversary of Yusuf Hawkins’ death and all these years later, it is fair to say, we are still living in very precarious times,” says ABFF CEO Jeff Friday. “We were incredibly moved by the relevance and power of this story and Muta’Ali’s vision for the film. The ABFF Lightbox Documentary Film Initiative is an extension of what I started with the American Black Film Festival, and I am delighted to be able to provide this new platform in partnership with Lightbox, and we are deeply grateful to National Geographic and 21st Century Fox for standing behind this meaningful initiative.”
Lightbox’s Jonathan Chinn adds, “I was immediately impressed with Muta’Ali’s passion and creative ambition for the film. The fact that he has already secured Yusuf’s family’s blessing and their active participation in the film along with the participation of many of the key players in the story points to a film that cannot only enter the ongoing conversation we are still having about racial discrimination in America, but that can do justice to the memory and legacy of Yusuf Hawkins. Lightbox and ABFF are thrilled to be collaborating with Muta’Ali on this important and timely film.”
Storm Over Brooklyn will explore the story of Yusuf Hawkins, an African-American teenager who was killed by a group of white youths in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn in 1989. Previously, Muta’Ali directed Life’s Essentials With Ruby Dee.
“I am thrilled to have been selected as the first beneficiary of this important initiative. Jeff and Jonathan are the ideal partners to help me take the complex story of Yusuf Hawkins and his killing out of my head and onto screens,” states Muta’Ali. “I have the utmost respect and appreciation for this opportunity and I look forward to creating a film that is true to who Yusuf was and true to all the people who have fought for equality in his name.”
Check out a teaser for Muta’Ali’s Life’s Essentials With Ruby Dee below.