In the wake of renewed racial unrest in Minnesota centered around African American relations with police agencies, producer Marc Henry Johnson has announced the hyper-relevant project centered around the original Black Panthers.
Johnson has joined writer Lisa Russell to co-produce A REVOLUTIONARY ACT, a new Black Panther feature film based on the words and life of Pete O’Neal is the noted founder and former chairman of the Black Panther Party’s Kansas City Chapter.
O’Neal has been living in exile in Tanzania for the past 50 years and is the subject of the award-winning POV documentary, A PANTHER IN AFRICA.
Marc Henry Johnson is bringing his experience to this project as a Peabody and Sundance Jury award-winning producer and has executive produced or produced films with Michael Moore, Spike Lee, Amiri Baraka, Mario Van Peebles, Danny Glover, David Simon, and George Pelecanos.
About his new project, Marc remains philosophical.
“Not much had changed since the Black Panthers took to the streets in 1966. Fifty-five years later, racially-charged injustices and inequalities still plague our communities. A REVOLUTIONARY ACT uniquely addressed those social ills and presents a path to social healing,” Johnson statehe stated for Vents Magazine.
Marc’s screenwriter on the project, Lisa Y. Russell, brings a wealth of experience of her own to this timely project. Russell is an Emmy award-winning filmmaker whose short film, BI-RACIAL HAIR, featuring Zora Howard (PREMATURE), was produced with Black Public Media and broadcast on Independent Lens. The poetry-based film won her a 2009 Emmy award in the “Outstanding Advanced Interactivity Media” category.
Russell’s screenplay for A REVOLUTIONARY ACT has already garnered attention and awards from several top tier screenplay festivals including the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting, WeScreenplay Diverse Voices, Screencraft Drama Competition and others. Russell’s vision for A REVOLUTIONARY ACT is a unique take on the Black Panther Story in that it features a living, high-ranking leader and cameos from current veteran members.
“This is a story that sheds light on the fact that the Black Panther Party story didn’t end in the 60’s and 70’s. There are still Black Panthers amongst us – some incarcerated as political prisoners, others like Pete and Assata Shakur who are living in exile and many others who continue the great work of the Party as community organizers. In this time of racial unrest in America, it’s important we continue to tell their stories and learn from them,” states Russell.
A review from The Black List stated, “This can become a high-profile project, with a fascinating but not necessarily universally known protagonist. It can have a solid box office success especially in the over 25 quadrants and have a good run during awards season.”
A review from the Academy Nicholl contest raved, “There is surely an original voice at work here and it fleshes out a chapter of the larger Black Panther story that most people are completely unaware of…’A Revolutionary Act’ is a fascinating and compelling study on big themes of justice and redemption.”
With close ties to many of the veteran members of the Black Panthers in the New York City area and currently residing in Tanzania, Russell began a collaboration with Pete and his wife, Charlotte, over 10 years ago while visiting their community center near Mt. Kilimanjaro.
“It’s been my absolute pleasure working with Lisa Russell not only on writing my story but bringing to light the plight of our political prisoners. I give my blessings and support to both her and Marc Henry Johnson in bringing a new narrative of the Black Panther Party to the big screen,” states O’Neal.
A REVOLUTIONARY ACT is currently seeking co-production financing.