With the recent awareness around racial tensions in America, Black cinema has gotten a boost. Stories about social justice and the historical figures that fought for it are especially timely. Having worked in film and television as writers, directors, comedians and producers, the Lucas Brothers are optimistic about the future of Black cinema, but also have some concerns.
Keith and Kenny Lucas wrote the story for Judas and the Black Messiah. It’s a phenomenal film about Fred Hampton’s betrayal by FBI informant William O’Neal that led to Hampton’s assassination. The Lucas Brothers shared their overall optimism as well as some concerns about Black cinema with CinemaBlend. Here’s what they said:
Keith: Eight years ago, I don't think this film was possible. But after #OscarsSoWhite, after Black Panther, after Berry Jenkins, after Ava [DuVernay], you know, it's been a lot of progress that has come from the ground up. From people who want to tell these stories, who have fought tell these stories, and they're there on the front lines. So I don't want to undersell what they've done to put us in a position to tell this story.
Kenny: But there's always this fear of mine. In the 70s there was this explosion of, I mean, admittedly not the best quality of cinema, but, you know, Black people making shit and being in front of the camera. Then the 80s came around and it was sort of like, okay, let's relegate Black cinema back to the margins. And then the 90s came around, there was an explosion, and then, let’s relegate Black cinema back to the margins. Now we're having an explosion again, and I'm just hoping now that the infrastructure is such that not only are Black people in front of the camera, but there are Black people behind the scenes and we're making quality stuff, and there's sort of this meeting of the minds between pretty much all Black creators from television and film where we're in this together.
Sounds like the Lucas Brothers acknowledge the progress of Black cinema and are happy to be a part of it, but are worried about history repeating itself. The repetition of time is something Regina King has spoken about in reference to the relevance of her directorial debut, One Night In Miami, so the Lucas Brothers are not alone with their sentiments. Time will tell, but hopefully Kenny Lucas is backed up in his hopes that the infrastructure has changed. He elaborated upon his mention of Black creators being “in this together” with the following:
I think before, there was this idea that maybe we're working against one another, that there's only room for one person at the table. Now I think because of the internet, because of our community, we're like, no, we're in this together. Let's uplift one another. I think Judas and the Black Messiah is a great example of it. You got Ryan Coogler, Charles King, Shaka King, LaKeith [Stanfield] and Daniel [Kaluuya], you have all these Black creators and artists coming together to tell the story about a Black revolutionary. It worked out and we have a major studio behind this. You want to keep the momentum and you want to be able to sustain a Black cinema that doesn't get relegated back to the margin because you have forces and say that it's not economically viable.
To say that Judas and the Black Messiah has some talented people behind it is an understatement. Directed by Shaka King and produced by Ryan Coogler, Charles King and Shake King, the film has an all-star cast that will absolutely blow you away.
Kenny and Keith Lucas are identical twin writers, comedians, producers and actors ready to make a lasting impression on the entertainment industry. Keith Lucas shared his excitement for the future of Black cinema, saying:
This is the tip of the iceberg. We have so many stories to tell, and I can't wait for the next generation of filmmakers to come in and tell more of our stories. Now it’s not just Black men, but also Black women, and they have a seat at the table, you know Regina King, with One Night In Miami. We're seeing things we’ve never seen before. Regina King’s been in the industry for 30 years and now she’s finally making it herself and getting the critical praise that she’s always deserved. And I just feel like it's been so much progress. So I'm very optimistic.
Judas and the Black Messiah is now available in theaters and streaming on HBO Max. For more films with Black leads, we have lists for you! Check out these romantic movies to rent or stream, these hidden gems, and these quintessential movies all film fans should see. What do you think about the future of Black cinema? Let me know in the comments.