The music of black men will be front and center on this summer’s movie screens as Hollywood turns its lens on some of the most iconic musicians of the 20th century. The life stories of James Brown, Fela Kuti and Jimi Hendrix will all get feature film treatment as Hollywood shifts its gaze from slavery (“12 Years a Slave”, “Lincoln,” “Belle”) in 2013 to the varying strains of political thought that emerged in black popular music during the 1960s. From the diasporic political consciousness in Kuti’s music to James Brown’s “I’m Black and I’m Proud” rallying cry to the eclectic mystery of Jimi Hendrix, black men’s stories are commanding more attention. We’ll also get to see the directorial debut of Native American model and actor Jason Momoa. Here, five films to look out for:
“Road to Paloma”
Theatrical release: July 11, 2014. Jason Momoa’s directorial debut follows two Native American bikers traveling across the American southwest. They’re fleeing the FBI while searching for redemption.
Theatrical release: August 1, 2014. Not to be confused with the documentary “Finding Fela,” this film follows the cast and crew of the hit Broadway musical “Fela,” which is based on the life and music of the Afrobeat pioneer and postcolonial political activist.
“Get On Up”
Theatrical release: August 1, 2014. Featuring a who’s-who of black Hollywood, this film stars Chadwick Boseman as James Brown, the hardest working man in show business. He appears alongside Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and Jill Scott.
”Life of Crime”
Theatrical release: August 29, 2014. This prequel to Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown,” starring Yasiin Bey, tells the backstory of two pivitol characters before Jackie Brown hit the scene. Tarantino isn’t involved with the project, but he’s given it his blessing.
“All Is by My Side”
In select theaters nationwide. Theatrical release: September 26, 2014. After years of pre-and post-production chatter, this highly anticipated look at Jimi Hendrix at the height of his fame, starring Andre “3000” Benjamin, is finally hitting theaters. It’s already screened to positive reviews in select theaters across the country.