The 2017 Sundance Film Festival has begun unveiling its lineup with yesterday’s announcement of the 66 films selected for U.S. Competition, World Competition and NEXT sections. Scrubbing the list to identify titles to profile on this blog, given our interests, there’s “Roxanne Roxanne,” from director and screenwriter Michael Larnell, who made his feature directorial debut with last year’s “Cronies,” executive produced by Spike Lee.
The film, set in the 1980s, tells the story of a 14-year-old rap prodigy from New York City’s Queensbridge Projects named Lolita Shante Gooden, who would go onto become the famed rapper hip hop fans know her as: Roxanne Shanté.
The cast is led by Chanté Adams (a newcomer who is starring as the title character), Mahershala Ali, Nia Long, Elvis Nolasco, Kevin Phillips, and Shenell Edmonds.
Making its World Premiere at Sundance next month, “Roxanne, Roxanne” is produced by Significant Productions’ Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi, as well as Pharrell Williams’ IamOTHER Entertainment, Mimi Valdés, and Erica Brady.
In an interview Mahershala Ali gave to The Daily Beast in late August, the actor shared that “Roxanne, Roxanne” will defy expectations of what audiences have come to expect what rap biopics are supposed to be: “Usually when you look at hip-hop films and biopics you think, this is a story of this album, or how so and so came up in the business… But it explores why she kind of disappeared and got derailed, to some degree. I believe that’s going to be a film that really grabs people as well, because it’s very nuanced compared to a lot of music biopics.”
The real Roxanne Shanté is listed as an executive producer, so she’s involved in some way.
Another Whitaker/Bongiovi-produced film (along with “Dope” and “Fruitvale Station” to name 2 previous others) that I’m sure will be snatched up soon after its Sundance premiere; if it hasn’t already been.
Certainly one to watch, given the talent and track record of those involved, in front of and behind the camera.
No trailer yet. The above still of Chanté Adams comes courtesy of Sundance.