Let’s take a stroll back down memory lane, back to the last few days of Black History Month in February 2015. I was one of the primary media outlets that was covering one of the largest Black Film Festivals, the Pan African Film Festival, which is held every year at the Rave Cinemas in Baldwin Hills Plaza located in the beautiful city of Los Angeles, California.
The entire week was filled with much bliss and memorable moments as I explored the history, art, and culture of our African American ancestry, along with thousands of other Africans and African Americans. In addition to the vast amount of culture that you are able to experience inside the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, the main purpose of the festival is to come out and support independent film makers who create films about and for Black people.
One film in particular that caught my attention was entitled, Forgiveness. Forgiveness can be classified as Tyler Perry meets Quentin Tarantino type of film. The movie is faith based, but with enough twist and turns that only Quentin could keep up with this storyline. It was debuted in the middle of festival on February 12 in a standing room only, packed theater. This film is about local Pastor who works to serve his ‘flock’ and save his 100-year-old church from financial hardship and foreclosure. In his dedication and desire to do so, he crosses boundaries that are not to be crossed. After watching the film and Q&A, and meeting this little 5’7” director, Hakim A. Khalfani (HAK), who’s nickname, hip hop style, his solemnity and witty personality reminds me of the legendary writer/ director Spike Lee, I’ve kept my eyes on HAK and this film.
HAK recently held another festival screening for Forgiveness at “Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival #MVAAFF” on August 13. This engaging, well-written and directed film was the talk of the festival. With Spike Lee in attendance, and honoring the filmmakers at the festival, Forgiveness received the HBO award for the 2015 “BEST FEATURE FILM”. Like Spike, HAK is also a graduate of Morehouse College, with a degree in Finance. After several years working in Corporate America, HAK started screenwriting in 1999, while rooming with Blackish creator, writer, and executive producer, Kenya Barris. By 2004, HAK wrote a script called, White Boy Rick, a true story of a young white teenage cocaine kingpin in Detroit, during the murder capital days of the 1980’s. With this script, HAK took meetings with Antoine Fuqua, Mark Walberg, George Furla, Paul Rosenburg, Stan Lathan, and Russell Simmons. He would later work with Russell Simmons on the movie, Waist Deep, directing his first music video, “Guttaville.” After directing his first and only music video, HAK landed his first job to write and direct in his first feature film, 4 LIFE, starring Wood Harris and Elise Neal, distributed by CodeBlack / Lionsgate.
The writing, acting, directing, and the production of Forgiveness was done with style and taste. Not only is HAK a talented and intelligent filmmaker, he had an amazing cast and crew, in addition to some great set locations. This epic drama features quite a few familiar faces, such as Richard T. Jones, Robinne Lee, Alan Maldanado, Adam Lazarre-White, Maya Dunbar, Inny Clemons, Charles Malik Whitfield, Kelly Pendygrapht, and Tico Wells. Forgiveness is a must see film. The next screening of Forgiveness is will be shown on September 18 at 9 p.m. at the Cleveland Urban Film Festival. Further information can be found on www.gcuff.org.
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