Judas and the Black Messiah’s Virtual Summit
The Beat Yanina Carter
With all the talk around the new Black Panthers Party movie, ”Judas and the Black Messiah,” it’s important to know that the film was inspired by true events from the past that continue to resonate today, according to Director Shaka King, marking his studio feature film directorial debut.
“This film couldn’t come out at a better time (when there is so much injustice and police brutality in the world.) “There are several things viewers will take away from this film,” King explained, at a special virtual summit for the media.
Thanks to my friends at Allied Global Marketing I participating in the summit, which featured thought-provoking conversations between the film’s talent, filmmakers, activists and other notable voices as they explore the powerful truths behind the movie.
Inspired by true events, “Judas and the Black Messiah” project originated with King and his writing partner, Will Berson, who co-wrote the screenplay, and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas, who co-wrote the story with Berson & King. Because of their longtime relationship with filmmaker Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther,” “Creed,” “Fruitvale Station”), he pitched the film to Coogler and Charles D. King (“Just Mercy,” “Fences”), who are producing the film with Shaka King.
LaKeith Stanfield, plays Judas the FBI informant William O’Neal who infiltrates the Chicago Black Panther Party (BPP) to keep tabs on their powerful leader, Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). Stanfield who was abused and manipulated by the system, leading to the ultimate betrayal of Chairman Hampton. O’Neal, has to deal with his own battles while dealing with Special Agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons), who is endlessly taunt him to deliver info and working on the commands of J. Edgar Hoover, played by Martin Sheen. Hampton’s political voice is seen as a threat and the paranoid Hoover saw the Panther party was African American militants that threaten national security and a Black revolution.
“The film explores and confronts voices that the Black Panthers were doing good things, bringing on peace and happiness to the neighborhood,” explained King. “They were community organizers, philanthropist, who gave back to the schools and neighborhood. They were people who worked to help the community.”
It was all about the history and impact of the BPP, Chairman and the incredible contribution they made not just in Chicago but across cities of America and how history was them were intentionally misconstrued. The film aims to rectify those misrepresentation and how their legacy continues to inspire the movement today.
Daniel Kaluuya and current Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. were elated by the story of the film and their involvement. Kaluuya said, “I never knew about Chicago Black Panthers.” He added, “I am humble and honored to step into the shoes of such a great influential man. To be in this position to honor him in this role, it was important that I gave all I could to have him represented right.”
Chairman Fred Hampton was assassinated at the age of 21. His son, Hampton Jr., said, “I learned what a man was suppose to be through my father. The streets was our office. The FBI made a lot of false accusations and harassed the community, wrongfully arresting people.”
They enforced curfews saying it was he Black Panthers fault. “Blame them” they yelled to folks on the streets. They raided and burned down their headquarters and stepped all over their rights.
“But you can see for yourself, as we unlock he truth and one can make a choice for themselves,” Hampton Jr. explained.
“Judas and the Black Messiah” shines light on the dark side of this time period which is so close to what is being seen today with the killing of George Floyd’s, Brenna Taylor and others we may not even know about. It is their hope that this film can be used as a teaching tool in classrooms.