The film stars Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Mary J. Blige and Jacob Lattimore and is an adaptation of the Langston Hughes’ gospel libretto. Kasi Lemmons, the film’s director, visited UNCSA recently to screen the film and chat with students and faculty. Lemmons’ other films include “Eve’s Bayou” and “Talk to Me.”
“The students were really engaged throughout the film, laughing and gasping,” she said. “Then, after the screening, there were so many people who wanted to talk to the director about how the film touched them personally. It was gratifying.”
UNCSA Film Dean Susan Ruskin, who has also worked with Lemmons, said she valued the director’s willingness to come to campus and share her experience in making the film.
“It means a great deal to our students to watch a soon-to-be released film and to be able to speak to the filmmaker directly after the screening while it is still fresh in their minds,” she said.
Goodwin said she was drawn to the project after seeing a New York stage production of Hughes’ work.
“It felt like a movie to me. I was so intrigued by the fact that it’s a cultural phenomenon, done every year in African-American community theatres across the nation,” she said.
An independent film producer and a screenwriter, Goodwin has been active in developing and producing independent films for more than a decade, including Cherien Dabis’s forthcoming “May in the Summer,” which opened the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Between 2005-10, she was head of development at Plum Pictures in New York, where she co-produced five independent features, all of which were acquired and released theatrically.
Prior to becoming an independent filmmaker, Goodwin was an Emmy-winning television producer for ABC, A&E, The History Channel and ESPN. As a writer, she has covered theater and dance for The New York Times and The New Yorker, and has published an award-winning nonfiction book, “The Second Mark,” with Simon & Schuster.
Goodwin said she began teaching because it gave her a chance to reflect on her work making films.
“You learn a tremendous amount making a film. Through teaching, you can pass that along and make more use of what you have learned. I love those moments when you watch a young filmmaker ‘get’ something new,” said Goodwin, a Harvard alumna who has also taught at New York University, Hunter College, and the University of North Carolina.