Hustling on Broadway

Pictured: Producer Lee Daniels, Director/Writer Sean Baker, Producer Darren Dean, and Moderator Eric Kohn

Sept. 2 – Amidst the hubbub and rustle of people buying iPads or wistfully entertaining the idea at Apple Store SoHo, IndieWIRE utilized the 2nd floor conference space for their series “Meet the Filmmaker.”  After the audience was informed about podcasts and flash photography, a trailer for Prince of Broadway initiated the event.

Walking to the elevated platform, Precious director Lee Daniels who produced this film along with Darren Dean seated themselves on either side of director Sean Baker.  Facing the three panelists, moderator Eric Kohn of IndieWIRE situated himself in the mix.

Both Daniels and Baker are affiliated with indie production and distribution company Elephant Eye Films.  Notably besides Precious, Elephant Eye Films distributed The Maid, which received concerted, positive, press coverage during New Directors/New Films at MoMA and Lincoln Center in 2009.

Prince of Broadway adheres to tropes associated with independent, gorilla filmmaking.  Discovered working security in a small shop along Broadway, Baker selected non-professional actor Prince Adu to portray main protagonist Lucky.  Lucky’s hustling becomes secondary once a toddler is thrust into his arms.  This young child is purportedly his son whose mother demands Lucky handle for several weeks.  Tribulations and confusion ensue as Lucky attempts to integrate this new responsibility into his charlatan antics.

At the event, two clips oriented the viewer to the West African hustlers along Broadway circa 26th to 36th Street.  Stylized with a documentary vibe and camera high energy movements, Baker tapped into authenticity emanating from store fronts and characters tied to this dilapidated area.

Of all the participants, Daniels could not espouse neutral statements.  His resentment against reviews namely The New York Times betrayed his bruised ego.  Reactions to Precious had been extreme with adoration or repulsion.  His tone and demeanor belied an inability to accept criticism of the latter.

Kohn prompted Baker and Dean to elucidate the challenges with limited budgets and choice to draw attention to the topic of illegal immigrants, which is often skirted by indie films.  The banter and discussion progressed seamlessly and even the Question & Answer session was tightly controlled in a professional manner.

This Friday Prince of Broadway will open at Angelika Film Center, New York City.  Subsequently, the film screens at Sunset 5 in Los Angeles on September 24th, then on October 1st lands in Chicago’s Piper’s Alley AMC Theaters.

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