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.


SOUND OF METAL
2019, Amazon Studios, 120 min, Belgium/USA, Dir: Darius Marder

During a series of adrenaline-fueled one-night gigs, itinerant punk-metal drummer Ruben (Riz Ahmed) begins to experience intermittent hearing loss. When a specialist says his condition will rapidly worsen, Ruben thinks his music career - and with it his life - is over. His bandmate and girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) checks the recovering heroin addict into a secluded sober house for the deaf in hopes it will prevent a relapse and help him learn to adapt to his new situation. But after being welcomed into a community that accepts him just as he is, Ruben must choose between his equilibrium and the drive to reclaim the life he once knew. Utilizing startling, innovative sound design techniques, director Darius Marder takes audiences inside Ruben’s experience to vividly recreate his journey into a rarely examined world.


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