Fox Searchlight Pictures has announced that principal photography for the timeless holiday musical drama “Black Nativity” began on January 29th in New York. The film stars Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker (THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND), Academy Award® nominee Angela Bassett (WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT), and Academy Award® and Grammy® winner Jennifer Hudson (DREAMGIRLS), along with actor and Grammy® nominee Tyrese Gibson (FAST FIVE), and RCA recording artist Jacob Latimore. Additional cast includes Grammy® nominee Nas and Grammy® nominee Luke James. Kasi Lemmons (EVE’S BAYOU, TALK TO ME) directs from a screenplay she wrote based on the celebrated play of the same title written by American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist Langston Hughes. The music for “Black Nativity” will feature original lyrics and arrangements from Grammy® winning singer, songwriter and record producer Raphael Saadiq. The film is produced by William Horberg’s Wonderful Films, and Trudie Styler and Celine Rattray’s Maven Pictures, and will be financed, marketed and released worldwide by Fox Searchlight Pictures.
“The ‘Black Nativity’ story has been an integral part of American theatre and culture since 1961 and it remains a significant work today with productions staged each year all across the nation,” said Claudia Lewis, President of Production, Fox Searchlight Pictures. “We are elated to bring a contemporary version of this timeless work to the big screen under the direction of Kasi Lemmons and with a tremendously talented cast.”
“‘Black Nativity’ has a been a part of my life for many years and I am so excited to be teaming up with Fox Searchlight to bring this unifying and transformative experience to the movies,” said writer/director Kasi Lemmons. “This is a universal story of faith and family, a marker of our times, and an endearing Christmas tale, infused with music from hip-hop to R&B to gospel.”
In a contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes’ celebrated play, BLACK NATIVITY follows Langston (JACOB LATIMORE), a street-wise teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother, as he journeys to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (FOREST WHITAKER and ANGELA BASSETT). Unwilling to live by the imposing Reverend Cobbs’ rules, a frustrated Langston is determined to return home to his mother, Naima (JENNIFER HUDSON). Langston embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey and along with new friends, and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and family. Zola Mashariki, Senior Vice President of Production, along with Director of Production Richard Gold and Creative Executive Taylor Friedman are overseeing the project for Fox Searchlight Pictures.
BLACK NATIVITY is produced by William Horberg (COLD MOUNTAIN, THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY) and Celine Rattray (THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, BERNIE).
‘Black Nativity’ debuted off-Broadway at the 41st Street Theatre on December 11th, 1961. Penned by Langston Hughes, the celebrated poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist who was a central figure during the Harlem Renaissance, ‘Black Nativity’ opened to rave reviews. It has been in continuous production across the nation with theatre companies, churches, college campuses and more for over 50 years.