A small group of the 400 plus sponsored by BHERC across the country gather for opening Weekend of Black Panther (Courtesy Photo)

BHERC issues call-to-action for members of the African American community — organizations and individuals — to host youth and underserved in their city to view both milestone films by Black directors.

 The Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC) announced its full and continued support of the big screen releases Black Panther (Marvel Studios), that opened February 16, 2018 nationwide and A Wrinkle in Time (Disney), opening March 9, 2018 nationwide. In addition, BHERC declared its full and continuing support and has issued a call-to-action to all—but the African American community in particular—to join them in hosting the youth and underserved in their surrounding community at screenings opening weekend and beyond, making certain that these important films are seen by all. BHERC has hosted LA youth and chaperones Hands for Hope and the Brotherhood Crusade for the screening of Black Panther and will do so for a Wrinkle in Time as well.

This effort is rooted in the acknowledgment of the many film accomplishments of African Americans that have steadily accumulated from the outstanding and films from the historical drama Selma, the American Drama Fences to the recent critically acclaimed World War II era drama MudBound.  It calls for overwhelming support and unbridled celebration of the milestones set by these two films both with unprecedented budgets over 100 million dollars.

In Black Panther writer/director Ryan Coogler brings to the screen a super-hero action figure played by Chadwick Boseman, with the confidence, finesse, intellect and physical ability reminiscent of the early characters from the Blaxploitation era that gave birth to our recent Black superheroes who often played sidekicks or support to the main characters.  This character portrays a leader, a hero born from legacy and royal birthright and not from impoverished dire circumstance. Though Black Panther first debuted during the Civil Rights era of the sixties, this modernized character has electrified an on-screen ensemble of talented African Americans as evidenced by the record presales of tickets and box office sale across the country.

With the film A Wrinkle in Time, Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay (Selma) becomes the first African American woman to direct a major motion picture with a budget over 100 million dollars.  Here she uses the opportunity to deliver to the big screen her vision of this timeless science fantasy classic novel written by American writer Madeleine L’Engle, first published in 1962. Diversity is brought to the screen with the selection of the cast featuring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and newcomer Storm Reid.  “It is so important that we support the work this new work from Ava DuVernay.  As a female director, her vision on the big screen represents diversity in a way we have never seen before.  It is an important film from an important novel, for such a time as this.” States founder Sandra Evers Manly.”

The BHERC Call-To-Action campaign celebrates these two cinematic endeavors and recognizes a responsibility to get audiences out to view, discuss and endorse these two films.  The call seeks to send a clear message that audiences want more of the quality and diversity of storytelling and that filmmakers of color deserve the opportunity to bring large budget stories of all genres to the screen.

Founded in 1996 by Sandra Evers-Manly, BHERC is a nonprofit, public benefit organization designed to advocate, educate, research, develop, and preserve the history and future of Blacks in film and television both in front and behind the camera.  For more than 25 years BHERC — through its signature film festivals the Youth Diversity Film Showcase, Reel Men, Sistas Are Doin’ It for Themselves and the African American Film Marketplace and S.E. Manly Film Showcase Film Festivals — has played a leading role in celebrating the artistry of African American filmmakers to bring storytelling with diverse topics, techniques and broad themes, multi-layered with humor, drama and reality annually to the public.

BHERC is also noted for the establishment of its “First Weekend Club,” a free loyalty program that encourages audiences to get out and see BHERC recommended movies the first “opening” weekend.  The public can sign up at www.bherc.org.  Movie goers looking for recommended films can find a listing on the BHERC site as well.