Following a limited theatrical release, Patrik-Ian Polk‘s gay coming-of-age drama Blackbird (2014), starring Academy Award winning actress and comedian Mo’Nique and Isaiah Washington, will arrive on DVD/Blu-Ray on August 4, 2015.
Based on Larry Duplechan‘s 1986 novel of the same name, the film introduces breakthrough talent Julian Walker as Randy, a young man struggling with the shame of being black and gay in rural Mississippi.
Randy is “a good-natured choirboy with a gorgeous voice and a host of personal issues – his little sister’s disappearance, the separation of his parents (played by Mo’Nique and Isaiah Washington), his strange and unsettling visions, and his repressed attraction to the same sex.”
Growing up “against a backdrop of blue skies, creeks, and pickup trucks and surrounded by a pack of misfit friends, he is the only one in his life who doesn’t seem to know (or accept) that he’s gay. As he and his classmates work on a controversial school production of Romeo & Juliet, all the problems in his life come to a head.”
Director Patrik-Ian Polk told Out Magazine last year: “He’s not being bullied, but he’s weighted down by the overly religiously conservative environment he’s in. As most teenagers do, he’s coming to terms and figuring out who he is. He’s struggling with his Christian faith. He really believes it when you first meet him. He’s plagued by these burgeoning emotions. We can see how he struggles with that and how it affects the family.”
Also starring Terrell Tilford, D. Woods, Gary L. Gray, Torrey Laamar, Kevin Allesee, and Nikki Jane, Blackbird began its very successful film festival run as the closing night gala screening for Los Angeles’ Pan African Film Festival (PAFF), where it won the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature Film.
It then appeared at Newfest at Lincoln Center in New York City, Out On Film in Atlanta, Reeling in Chicago, Outfest Fusion in Los Angeles, The Seattle LGBT Film Festival, ReelQ in Pittsburgh, Outflix Memphis, Long Beach QFilms, New York’s American Black Film Festival (ABFF), and The Tampa International LGBT Film Festival.
Blackbird sold out San Francisco’s twelve-hundred-seat historic Castro Theatre at the Frameline Film Festival, the country’s oldest LGBT film festival, before it was released to limited theaters in the U.S on April 24, 2015.
It also had a successful international screenings at festivals in Barcelona, Melbourne, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Canada, England, and Italy.
Additionally, the film won “Best Feature” honors at Outflix Memphis, Atlanta’s Out On Film, Chicago’s Reeling, and the Crossroads Film Festival in Polk’s native Mississippi.
It also earned “Best Ensemble Cast,” “Best Director” and “Best Actor” (Julian Walker) at Atlanta’s Out On Film, as well as the Diversity Award at the Barcelona LGTB Film Festival.
Executive produced by Mo’Nique and husband Sidney Hicks, the film is produced by Keith Brown and Carol Ann Shine along with Polk and Washington.
Blackbird is a collaboration between Hicks Media Productions, Tall Skinny Black Boy Productions, Coalhouse Productions, and KBiz Entertainment.
It is being distributed by Urban Movie Channel (television) and RLJ Entertainment (theatrical), both created by Robert L. Johnson, founder of BET.
Blackbird‘s screenplay was written by Rikki Beadle Blair and Polk. Watch the trailer below.