Those that keep up with Sophisticated Relations will probably remember the film that we highlighted last year at the 2015 Pan African Film Festival titled, “Forgiveness”, Since we have highlighted the film, the Director, Hakim A. Khalfani (HAK), and the cast and crew have made tremendous strides with multiple nominations and awards.
In the Summer of 2015, FORGIVENESS, garnered a multitude of awards including Best Feature Film at the HBO, Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival; Best Feature at the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival; Best Feature at the Gary Indiana Black Film Festival; and Best Faith Based Film at the International Black Film Festival Nashville. FORGIVENESS is currently being feverishly courted for distribution and they are wrapping up the last of the film festival circuit at the San Diego Black Film Festival on Saturday, January 30 at 3: 30 at the Reading Theater in the Gaslamp District. HAK along with the cast of Inny Clemons, Richard T. Jones, Adam Lazarre White, Mechelle Epps, Alan Maladando, and Sundy Carter,will be in attendance. Robinne Lee will not be in attendance due to another obligation, but she is excited for all the is to come for the film.
Robinne came onto the film after hearing about it from Adam who was her acting coach for many years. He had mentioned to her that there was apart in the film that would be perfect for her. From there Robinne and Inny had a meeting and from there they just clicked.
“IT WAS AN INTERESTING ROLE,” ROBINNE STATED. “I HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING LIKE IT AT THAT POINT, SO I WAS LIKE OK LET’S GIVE IT A SHOT—THEN WHEN I FOUND OUT RICHARD HAD SIGNED ON FOR THE LEAD I WAS REALLY EXCITED TO WORK WITH HIM BECAUSE I HAVE ADMIRED HIS WORK FOR SOME YEARS NOW.”
Not only did Robinne get the opportunity to work with Richard, but this was her first time working with HAK.
“HAKIM WAS INTERESTING,” ROBINNE EXPLAINED. “THIS WAS MY FIRST TIME WORKING WITH HIM ON THE SET. HE WAS VERY MELLOW, CALM, AND COLLECTED. HE HAS AN IDEA OF WHAT HE WANTS THEN HE LETS HIS ACTORS KIND OF PLAY, AND THAT IS ALWAYS GOOD WHEN A DIRECTOR TRUSTS THAT YOU CAN DO THE WORK AND THAT YOU ARE UP FOR THE ROLE THAT HE HIRED YOU FOR. IT’S KIND OF NICE WHEN A DIRECTOR CAN STEP BACK AND LET YOU EXPLORE THINGS AND TRY THINGS IN DIFFERENT WAYS AND HE WAS VERY MUCH LIKE A TEAM PLAYER IN THAT WAY.”
Clemons not only acted in the film, but he also helped produce the film with Hakim. He also was vital in in the casting. He is good friends with Richard T. Jones, who is active in church and an ordained minister so Clemons knew he would be perfect in connecting to the main role of the film.
“IT WAS GREAT WORKING ALONGSIDE HAKIM ON THIS FILM, WE’VE BEEN FRIENDS FOR QUITE SOME TIME AND IT WAS REALLY COOL TO BE ABLE TO COLLABORATE WITH HIM. YOU DON’T ALWAYS GET TO WORK WITH PEOPLE YOU LIKE AND RESPECT, SO THIS WAS A COOL EXPERIENCE.”
With the success that FORGIVENESS has had, I’m sure many are wondering what inspired HAK to produce the film and what is next for the young filmmaker and producer. We were able to compile a Q&A session with HAK where he discussed his inspirations for the film and what his next moves are.
What Inspired you to write this movie?
My girlfriend at the time broke up with me for something that I did, and too embarrassed to mention. She cut me off and wouldn’t speak or forgive me for nothing in the world, and that bothered me to the point that I had to research the word Forgiveness.
What was it like working with the great actors in your film?
Working with such great actors makes everything magical. To see someone take the words and actions I wrote and bring them to life is magical. Great acting makes a good writer great!
If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently?
I would have never called the “poor man’s version of Shemar Moore.” You know who you are.
How did you get started in the film business?
My good friend introduced me to Russell Simmons. Russell and I bonded really well. He hired me to direct my first music video. With the success of my first video, I was offered a deal to write and direct a movie.
How did you get Richard T. Jones to star in your film?
My producer Inny Clemons gave him the script and he loved it. Richard is an ordained minister and this role came at a time where he was at a place with God and he wanted to do it.
Is this your first film?
It’s the first film I’m proud of. The first film I directed, “4 Life,” Tony Austin, who financed the movie, woke up one morning and decided that he wanted the director credit and took my name off. I wasn’t apart of the edit and when I saw the movie, I was glad he took my name off.
How did you raise the money to do this film?
I didn’t. A client that I directed a music video for told me he had a book that he wanted to make a movie and asked me if I could write and direct a film adapted from the book.
How long did it take to do this film?
I wrote the script in two weeks, shot the film in 15 days, and it took about a year to edit and score the film.
Who are your influences?
First, My mother and Grandmother are my influences in life. In film, the writer/directors Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino. Directors F. Gary Grey, Antoine Fuqua, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Thomas Carter (Coach Carter), Michael Shultz (Woman Thou Art Loosed), Inny Clemons, Ruben Cannon, Kenya Barris, and Russell Simmons.
What’s next for you?
I don’t know? I’ve written over 30 movies, I want to do them all.
Now that FORGIVENESS has wrapped the festival circuit, distribution of the film is still being determined, but for updates on the film’s progress, please visit them onFacebook or Twitter @Forgiveness2015.
“I’m looking forward to getting distribution for the film,” Inny explained. “That’s it. We put a ton of work into this film and we’re looking forward to sharing it with the world.”
HAK and Inny are currently working on a scripted project with Vice. They are still in the early stages of development, and can’t talk much about it about it but it is going to be pretty groundbreaking and right in stride with the gritty style that Vice is known for.