| The Beat By Yanina Carter
The Philadelphia Film Society (PFS) recently presented the fourth Lumičre Award to Academy Award nominee and Philadelphia native Lee Daniels, followed with a virtual screening of Daniels the film “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.”
The LumieĚre Award, named in honor of the first filmmakers Auguste and Louis LumieĚre, is given to those that have demonstrated a passion for the furtherance of filmmaking as a vital artform as well as direct ties to the Philadelphia area. Past recipients include Academy Award® nominated Writer and Director M. Night Shyamalan, Actor Bruce Willis, and Academy Award® winner Adam McKay.
“Not only does Lee Daniels stand as one of Philadelphia’s most accomplished sons, but he has likewise always been incredibly generous to us and the Philadelphia Film Festival,” said J. Andrew Greenblatt, CEO & Executive Director of the Philadelphia Film Society.
“I’ll never forget our screenings of “Precious” as the Closing Night of my first Film Festival as Executive Director, with back-to-back sold out theaters and Lee joining us for a fantastic post-screening Q&A. I’m thrilled we’re now able to honor Lee and his tremendous career with the Philadelphia Film Society’s LumieĚre Award, while also partnering to bring his latest film to Philly audiences first.”
With a career spanning nearly two decades, Lee Daniels has proven to be a multi-hyphenate talent, successful as a Director, Writer and Producer. His first film, “Monster’s Ball,” made him the sole African-American producer of an Oscar®-winning and Oscar®-nominated film. His 2009 film “Precious: Based on the novel Sapphire”, was nominated for six Academy Awards, including nominations for Daniels in the category of “Achievement in Directing” and “Best Motion Picture of the Year.” In 2013 he released the critically acclaimed box office smash, “The Butler,” an epic drama set against the tumultuous political backdrop of 20th century America that tells the story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), an African American butler who served at the White House during seven presidential administrations between 1957 and 1986. The film, released in August 2013, held the number one box office spot for three consecutive weeks and has to date grossed over $175million worldwide.
Daniels’ upcoming film, “The United States vs Billie Holiday”, tells the story of how the Federal Bureau of Narcotics engaged in an undercover sting operation to ensure the conviction and imprisonment of jazz singer Billie Holiday in response to her politics and willingness to sing her political song called “Strange Fruit”, the story of lynchings that look like strange fruit hanging from the trees.
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, all while the Federal Department of Narcotics targeted her with an undercover sting operation led by Black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair. Inspired by her life story, the film intimately examines her struggles with addiction, fame and heartbreaking love. THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY is currently, available to stream on Hulu.
If you haven’t seen it tune in. Like Diana Rosswho mastered the role of Billie Holiday, you will love Andra Day, who takes on the role and nails it and it looks like Daniels spin on the story tells more than “Lady Sings The Blues”.
Andra Day, has been around for a while. After high school, Day worked about 20 different jobs including one as a children’s entertainer. In 2010, Stevie Wonder’s then wife, Kai Millard, noticed Day performing at a strip mall and brought her to the attention of her husband. Day received a call from Wonder himself soon after. No immediate partnership was formed, but the two reconnected around a year later. Wonder introduced Day to producer Adrian Gurvitz at that time. Gurvitz would eventually collaborate on Day’s debut album a few years later. Since then she has performed with many music greats. But it’s her hit “I Riseup” that brought her to my attention and that powerful voice is placed perfectly in the film.
While we enjoy Daniel’s upcoming film, his current new projects include GOOD PEOPLE, SAMMY DAVIS JR miniseries, SUPERBITCH, THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR, MS PAT, and MASON DIXON.
In addition to his successful film career, Daniels is also a passionate advocate and philanthropist. Daniels sits on numerous boards including Ghetto Film School, a non-profit which helps to educate, develop, and celebrate the next generation of great American storytellers. Daniels is also a longtime LGBT activist, as well as a strong supporter of many charitable organizations.
Lee Daniels is an Academy Award® nominated filmmaker whose work is trademarked by authenticity and candor, providing audiences with a unique and refreshing experience with each of his films. Daniels is widely known for his exceptional directing, as seen in his television show “Empire” and “Star”. Lee Daniel’s keep up the good work.