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GENIUS: ARETHA
2021, National Geographic, 60 min, USA, Dir: Anthony Hemingway

GENIUS is National Geographic’s Emmy-winning anthology series that dramatizes the fascinating stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators, their extraordinary achievements and with their volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships. This season will explore Aretha Franklin’s musical genius and incomparable career, as well as the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world. Grammy Award winner Franklin was a gospel prodigy, an outspoken civil rights champion and widely considered to be the greatest singer of the past 50 years, receiving countless honors throughout her career. Franklin will be portrayed by the triple threat Tony-, Emmy- and Grammy Award-winning Cynthia Erivo and Emmy-winning Courtney B. Vance will play Aretha’s father, C.L. Franklin.


MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM
2020, Netflix, 94 min, USA, Dir: George C. Wolfe

Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey (Academy Award winner Viola Davis). Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. As the band waits in the studio’s claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious cornet player Levee (Chadwick Boseman) - who has an eye for Ma’s girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry - spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives. Adapted from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play, MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM celebrates the transformative power of the blues and the artists who refuse to let society’s prejudices dictate their worth.


THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
2021, Hulu, USA, Dir: Lee Daniels

The legendary Billie Holiday, one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, spent much of her career being adored by fans across the globe. Beginning in the 1940s in New York City, the federal government targeted Holiday in a growing effort to escalate and racialize the war on drugs, ultimately aiming to stop her from singing her controversial and heart-wrenching ballad, “Strange Fruit.” Led by Oscar nominated director Lee Daniels and introducing Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Andra Day, THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY unapologetically presents the icon’s complicated, irrepressible life. Screenplay Writer Suzan-Lori Parks, the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, pens this intimate tale of a fierce trailblazer whose defiance through music helped usher in the civil rights movement. NAACP Image Award nominee Trevante Rhodes and Emmy nominee Natasha Lyonne co-star along with Garrett Hedlund, Miss Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Evan Ross, Tyler James Williams, Tone Bell and Erik LaRay Harvey.


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