Filmmaker, Director, Writer and Producer Mark Harris Educates and Entertains with His Latest Project about Black on Black Gentrification and Its Consequences.
Chicago native Mark Harris is a natural when it comes to creating movies. He is one of those filmmakers who has left his mark in the indie-film industry for a long minute. His movies shines a light on Black people in all facets of life, blending humor, romance and drama. My personal favorite films by Mark include, ?Black Coffee,? ?Nothing Like Thanksgiving,? ?Couples Night? and ?Black Butterfly.?
Mark?s latest, ?Black and Privileged: Volume 1,? premiered on Netflix July 11. It?s not so much of a movie, but a pilot to what will hopefully become a full-length original series. Mark wrote, produced and directed ?Black and Privileged? through his company, 1555 Filmworks. It?s produced by LaToya Hunter and executive produced by Willie ?Bird? Roberson. Additional producers include actor and co-star Brian White (?Ambitions?).
?Black and Privileged? is about upper middle class Black residents living in Chicago?s Englewood community. They?re living their best lives in beautiful houses, and a shopping district filled with successful Black-owned business. Their dream world is suddenly threatened after low-income Black families move to Englewood due to the demolition of one of the government housing developments.
?Black and Privileged: Vol. 1? is divided into three chapters with quotes from two notable Black men (the third chapter quote is also notable, but I?ll leave it to you to watch and read). Chapter 1?s quote is from the late comedian, actor, activist and author, Dick Gregory. ?Political promises are much like marriage vows. They are made at the beginning of the relationship between candidate and voter. But are quickly forgotten.?
The opening scene is at a Black-owned cafe in Englewood. Resident and contractor Samad (Simeon Henderson) visits the cafe owner, Eldon(Corey Hendrix). Eldon shows Samad a newspaper article about families from low-income housing, aka, the projects, are moving into their community. This causes an uproar because of fears that their properties will plummet and the neighborhood will be shot to hell. When Samad tells his wife, Dawn (Dawn Halfkenny), she is all for the idea, until she witnesses the community changing.
One of the highlights of ?Black and Privileged? involves scenes where the characters step out of character to look into the camera and talk to viewers. Eldon, for example, immediately explains the term, ?redlining.? In a dictionary, Redlining is to refuse a loan or insurance to someone because they live in an area deemed to be a poor, financial risk. Eldon speaks on the definition and history of how Black families were placed in boxed and gated housing with vouchers. Eldon, and other characters interact with the viewing audience at various times. These moments are teaching and thinking moments.
From there, ?Black and Privileged? kind of jumps from place to place, but still manages to stay within the story line. I can?t say a lot of what happens next, but it involves blood, sabotage and sacrifice to keep the community going.
The cast include Cynda Williams (Mo? Betta Blues), Brely Evans(Ambitions), Malcom Banks (7vens Law), Carl Anthony Payne II (Martin) and William L. Johnson (Nothing Like Thanksgiving, The G, Blue Hill Avenue).
?Black and Privileged? kept my attention and left me wanting answers to a couple of moments, like, ?where?s Angie??
Who is Angie? You?ll have to watch and find out. Then hope a Vol. 2 happens.
I give ?Black and Privileged? three stars.
?Black and Privileged? is a Mark Harris Piece through 1555 Filmworks and presented by Push Media Group.
Running Time: 1 hour and 19 minutes.
Currently streaming on Netflix.