Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center has launched Black Carpet Speaker Series, a free series providing Black filmmakers a platform to discuss their careers, influences, latest works, and filmmaking insights. BHERC has tapped powerhouse directors Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Old Guard) and Kasi Lemmons (Harriet) to host the first live virtual speaker series where they’ll be discussing the urgency to tell stories of black women and disrupting the status quo. Following the Black Carpet Speaker Series, which kicks off July 31, is BHERC’s annual Reel Black Men Film Festival that runs from August 1 – August 8. The fest spotlights shorts created by African-American male filmmakers. Reel Black Men provides an opportunity to screen these shorts and showcase the directors’ skills, talent and vision through film screenings while giving the audience a chance to view and discuss the artistry, passion, and sacrifice involved in the independent filmmaker process.
Orange Is the New Black actor Max Talisman is marking his screenwriting and directorial debut with modern-day, romantic comedy, Things Like This. Talisman has assembled an ensemble cast of Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins (TLC), Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight), Michael D. Cohen (Henry Danger), Jasmin Savoy Brown (For the People) Charlie Tahan (Ozark), Dyan Cannon (Kangaroo Jack), Santwon McCray (MTV’s Wild n’ Out), Krista Allen (Significant Mother), Miles Tagtmeyer (Broken), and Jake Reiner, grandson of the late Carl Reiner. The plot centers around two young gay men with the same name living in NYC that fall in love and it appears that the universe has brought them together. Buzz Koenig of Opposite Field Pictures and Andrew Burrill of Sovereign Talent are producing. Talisman, also known for horror drama, Super Dark Times, is repped by Sovereign Talent Group and Connecting Talent Company.
Byron Allen’s Freestyle Digital Media has secured North American rights to The Silent Natural, a family-friendly, baseball-themed true story, which will be available on DVD, digital, cable, and satellite platforms August 25. Directed by David Risotto, the film follows William “Dummy” Hoy, one of the first deaf Major League Baseball players, who not only overcame many obstacles to become one of the greatest players of his time but also created the umpire hand signs for “strike” and “ball.” At the age of 24, William Hoy begins his professional baseball career as he grabs his spikes and boards a train headed for the minor league team in Oshkosh. Despite his diminutive size and deafness, William demonstrates explosive speed and a powerful arm. But he faces challenges far and above those of a “normal” new prospect. Unable to hear calls of the umpire, Hoy communicates with his third-base coach who relates the calls by signing. After two years in the minor leagues, Hoy signs with the Washington Senators in 1888 and leads the National League with 82 stolen bases in his rookie year. Risotto and Steve Sandy co-wrote the screenplay which was produced by Risotto, Sandy, Ani Kyd Wolf, and Branscombe Richmond. Freestyle’s Caleb Ward negotiated the acquisition deal with Glen Reynolds of Circus Road Films.