By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
Any studio would rarely provide media access to films that it plans to enter into several prestigious film festivals, like the New Orleans Film Festival and the American Black Film Festival.
Char’Actors and 25th Frame Films granted the Black Press that access. Both companies are helmed by New York-born actor Shiek Mahmud-Bey (“The Profiler,” “Night Falls on Manhattan,” and “Buffalo Soldiers”).
This week, Mahmud-Bey previewed two riveting short films that are sure to grab the attention of judges and those fortunate enough to see them. He has several potential blockbuster feature-length films he also plans to release this year and in 2021.
The first is “Unrequited Love,” written and starring Katja Sarkish Stewart, who plays opposite Nefertiti Warren (“Dari Ji Mi,” and “Reparations”).
The film serves up nine minutes and 11 seconds of raw emotion as the two sisters have just buried their father. They eventually, and reluctantly, meet inside a church, and it soon becomes evident that they hadn’t seen each other or been in contact for years.
But, they must confront a couple of family secrets that threaten to rock their lives further.
The second film previewed by The Black Press is “My Father’s Son,” written and directed by Mahmud-Bey and includes the cinematic efforts of Sean Snider (“Honour Among Thieves,” “Leak,” and “Chasing After You.”).
“My Father’s Son” stars Malachi Anderson (“Affliction,” “The Fatal Flaw,” “Extrinsic Truth,”), Carol Towns (“Little Church,” “Why Do Men Cheat”), and Aqeel Ash Shakoor (“Batwoman,” “Chicago Med,” and “Iced Out”). James Alexander serves as the photographer.
The 24-minute short chronicles life’s ups and downs for Barry Collins (Anderson), who suffered the tragic loss of his mother when he was a child.
On that faithful day, Barry’s father (Shakoor) left him alone, forcing his Auntie Pamela (Benita Hughes) to raise a conflicted and angry young man.
While Auntie Pamela leans on her faith, Barry is disenchanted, wondering what kind of God would “take his mother and his father” at the same time.
Later, when happiness in the form of a promising job offer arrives, things get even more complicated.
While he angrily rejects Auntie Pamela’s request to read letters his had father sent over the years, Barry’s juggling a girlfriend and another woman with whom he’s fallen in love.
An unexpected pregnancy brings more complications for Barry, and his actions leave everyone afraid of what’s to come.
The general contours of “My Father’s Son” brings to the screen the sometimes-rocky path traversed by men and their fathers in what some psychologists call one of the most complex relationships in a man’s life – that of father and son.
It’s a relationship that can affect others, and unless Barry gets the closure he needs, it could have a devastating impact on all of the women in his life and a newborn baby.
“Unrequited Love,” and “My Father’s Son,” also underscore the resurgence of the short film that accompanied feature-length movies in theaters decades ago.
Pixar remains the only major studio that routinely airs original short films to go along with its feature-length movies.
Char’Actors, a company of artists dedicated to acting and filmmaking and an objective to advance careers and create opportunities for members to write, produce, and direct their own works, and 25th Frame Films are jumping into the genre with other promising shorts, including “Dilemma,” a drama in which Mahmud-Bey said should reach completion soon.
“Dilemma” is a story about a woman named Lisa (Shannon Weiss) who suffers from schizophrenia. Lisa controls the condition well with her medication, but all of that changes when her brother, Joseph (Rayan Lawerance), moves in with her.
When Lisa realizes that her brother is planning to get married, Lisa stops taking her medicine and chaos ensues. What comes next is a dilemma for Lisa, Joseph and Joanne (Warren), his fiancée.
While Char’Actors and 25th Frame Films are scheduled to go into pre-production on another film titled, “Thought,” the companies are expected to release a 7-episode web series titled “Interface,” which Mahmud-Bey said contains a rare multi-cultural cast with a demographic that pleases those from 12 to 70.
“I will find a way or make one,” Mahmud-Bey stated.