life soul & love*Producers of Life Love Soul – a story of a young man who loses everything and triumphantly finds himself — hosted the long-awaited DVD Release party for the independently released Noel Calloway Film that won several awards when it was released last year to favorable reviews on Tuesday, August 27, 2013.

Venue host Marvin Coleman of The Time Hotel Inc. Lounge in New York City cordially welcomed many of the stars of Life Love Soul who were joined by scores of fashionistas and filmnistas who enjoyed complimentary Alacran Tequila cocktails and jumbo red velvet cupcakes from Kupcake Diva Renell Glover throughout the exciting evening.

When not networking, dressed to the nines guests twerked, tweeted, twisted and twirled the night away to soulful music by The Legendary Chris Washington.  Singer Tay Bell provided one of the highlights of the evening when he serenaded R&B birthday celebrant Valerie Simpson with the birthday song.

Life Love Soul is a coming of age drama that takes you on a journey through the trials and tribulations of a seventeen-year-old honor student Roosevelt Jackson (Robbie Tate-Brickle) whose world was shattered by the sudden death of his mother (Tami Roman).  Orphaned and heartbroken he reluctantly honors his mother’s wish and resides with his estranged father (Chad Coleman) who is ill-equipped to nurture him as he struggles to cope lending to a tumultuous.  As he begins to piece his life together he is blind-sided by another life altering circumstance.  Despite such odds his mother’s love proves to be the glue that underlies the strength that he processes, the undercurrent that bears testament to his life experiences and profoundly influence his direction.

Directed, written and produced by Noel Calloway, Life Love Soul stars Chad Coleman (The Walking Dead), Jamie Hector (The Wire), Terri J. Vaughn (The Steve Harvey Show), Tami Roman (Basketball Wives), Egypt Sherrod (Radio Personality), Tamara Fay (30 Rock), Valerie Simpson (Ashford & Simpson), Allen J. West, Mia Michelle, Jian Pierre Rice and introducing Robbie Tate-Brickle

Cast and producers of LIFE LOVE SOUL are pictured at the DVD Release Party in Times Square in New York City (Left to Right) Bob Tate Sandy Tate Jian Pierre Rice Robbie Tate-Brickle Dedra N. Tate Tamara Fay Valerie Simpson Noel & Latisha Calloway Jeanine Tate

Cast and producers of LIFE LOVE SOUL are pictured at the DVD Release Party in Times Square in New York City (Left to Right) Bob Tate Sandy Tate Jian Pierre Rice Robbie Tate-Brickle Dedra N. Tate Tamara Fay Valerie Simpson Noel & Latisha Calloway Jeanine Tate (Photo by Ronnie Wright)

Life Love Soul was executive produced by Benny Pough and Allen J. West and produced by Noel Calloway and Dedra N. Tate.  Associate producers are Bob & Sandy Tate, Andrea Holmes Thompkins, Sherrie R. Kerr-DeAnda & Yandy Smith (Love & Hip Hop).  Life Love Soul, A Noel Calloway Film, is available at Walmart, iTunes, Amazon.com, Target.com and On Demand!

At Urbanworld Film Festival Gun Hill director Reggie Rock Bythewood (center) leads cast at post screening Q&A with enthusiastic audience

At Urbanworld Film Festival Gun Hill director Reggie Rock Bythewood (center) leads cast at post screening Q&A with enthusiastic audience (Photo by Ronnie Wright)

*It was a weekend full of celebrities and entertainment for hundreds of film lovers who attended the 17th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival, presented by BET Networks, September 18-22, 2013.  The opening and closing films were Baggage Claim and The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete, respectively.  Two of the standout highlights of the festival included SRO screenings of Gun Hill and The Magic City.

Veteran TV/film director Reggie Rock Bythewood‘s BET Original Film, Gun Hill, starring Larenz Tate in dual roles was a fan favorite.  Tate, who also served as the 2013 Urbanworld Film Festival Ambassador walked the carpet in support of Gun Hill along with fellow cast members Aisha Hinds, Michael Aronov, and Shanti Ashanti. George Clinton, Nona Hendryx, Questlove, Melvin Van Peebles, Jared Nickerson, and Stuart Matthewman.

Larenz Tate stars as Bird and Trane, identical twins on opposite sides of the law.  Bird is an undercover agent with a secret task force.  Trane is a recently released convict who plays by a different set of rules.  When Bird is brutally murdered, Trane assumes his brother’s identity in hopes of finding the killer, and gaining a second chance at life.  Grappling with morality, fatherhood and love, Gun Hill asks this question: Can someone who is unredeemable become redeemed?

Bythewood assembled a phenomenal cast of supporting characters including Aisha Hinds (Under the Dome, Detroit 1-8-7) who delivers a standout performance as drug Queenpin Arlene Carter.  Hinds developed many of the characteristics for her no nonsense, cut throat character from infamous crime family matriarch Griselda Blanco, whose life is documented in “Cocaine Cowboys.”

Emayatzy Corinealdi, who starred in Ava Duvernay’s award winning film “Middle of Nowhere,” plays Bird’s childhood sweetheart who’s been raising a son he knew nothing about with Trane’s financial help.  Bird, as Trane, now has a chance to build a relationship with his son while navigating through the twists, turns and plots as they are unveiled in his life as an undercover agent posing as a drug lord.

Gun Hill is loosely based on Bythewood’s life and relationship with his estranged father and he hopes viewers will think of it as a distant cousin to the 1990′s police drama New York Undercover, if picked up as a series.

Bythewood wrote on the TV series, “A Different World” and “New York Undercover.”  His first produced screenplay was “Get On The Bus.”  Most recently, he co-wrote the screenplay for “Notorious.”  As a writer-director, he made “Dancing In September” and “Biker Boyz.”  He has also directed documentaries including the 30 for 30 episode, “One Night In Vegas” which aired on ESPN. Currently, he is producing “blackbird,” the next film by his filmmaker wife, Gina Prince-Bythewood.

*The Magic City made its New York Premiere in front of a standing room only crowd and was definitely a festival highlight.  The unique coming of age story stars two fiery young sisters, played by real life siblings Latrice and Lashay Jackson, who conceal the death of their “aunt” to keep from going back into the foster care system.

The first feature film from veteran music video director R. Malcolm Jones, The Magic City tackles some serious issues and has an incredible cast bringing them to light.  Jamie Hector (The Wire, Night Catches Us) is phenomenal as a former veteran suffering from Post Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); Jenifer Lewis (Baggage Claim, Think Like A Man) plays his sister who takes in her troubled niece for a summer that will change all of their lives forever.  Keith David (Platoon, Dead Presidents) rounds out the cast as the corner store owner who still carries a flame for the sisters’ aunt and isn’t falling for the girls’ story about her whereabouts.

The summer begins to look up when two sisters are placed in the care of their foster mother. “Aunt Georgia” who gives the girls a place they can call home and feel safe.  They make friends with Amiya who is staying next door with her Aunt Jennifer (Jenifer Lewis) and the girls begin having fun.  When their beloved Aunt Georgia suddenly dies, leaving them alone they panic. Attempting to avoid being returned to the foster system, the girls plot to conceal the death.  Using their street smarts to get money, the girls do whatever it takes survive on the harsh streets of Liberty City.

The Magic City post screening Q&A, kicked off with an emotional Jenifer Lewis proudly stating “Of all the sixty-seven films I’ve done in my career, `The Magic City’ is the one I’m most proud of.”   An advocate and spokesperson for bipolar disorder which she suffers from Lewis hopes people will talk about this incredible film and support it in theaters with the hopes of more films being
made that talk about these serious topics that affect the African American community.  The film also had a very positive showing at a screening held at The Riverside Church Theater in Harlem that was also followed by a discussion on mental health issues that affect the African American community moderated by mental health advocate/author of “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting,” Terrie M. Williams. Here again a packed audience joined in celebrating the strength and triumph of the human spirit.

New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles and travel for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets.  Contact her via: ajbernardster@gmail.com

audrey bernard

Audrey J. Bernard