Rick Famuyiwa Rides High with Critically Acclaimed ‘Dope’

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download (1)By Donte Slocum

Dope; the buzzy, energetic comedy that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, will make its international debut this week during the prestigious 68th Cannes Film Festival. Set in LA during the early nineties, Dope follows three hip-hop geeks who become ensnarled in a drug deal. Fueled by Kendrick Lamar’s “i,” the trailer crackles with energy and exuberance. With the high critical acclaim this film has achieved, it’s destined to become the film of the summer.

Though Dope is filled to the brim with young up-and-coming talent, the film’s true breakout star is its director, Rick Famuyiwa. Famuyiwa name isn’t familiar but he’s no overnight success. His filmography includes The Wood, Brown Sugar and Our Family Wedding. These films show Famuyiwa’s range as a director of comedies with dramatic elements. He’s a seasoned director and Dope will prove to be a shot in the arm for his career.

Dope is the latest example of black filmmakers getting opportunities and producing quality work. The last few years have seen several new black filmmakers such as Dee Rees, Justin Simien and Ava DuVernay emerge and find critical acclaim with Pariah, Dear White People and Selma, respectively. Dope’s release and pedigree bodes well; it follows in the footsteps of fellow Sundance and Cannes smash, Fruitvale Station. After its premiere, Fruitvale Station rode the wave of critical acclaim throughout 2013, including a release date in the heart of blockbuster season. The film’s star, Michael B. Jordan, and its director, Ryan Coogler, were propelled into higher profile jobs. There’s a high demand in franchise crazy Hollywood for someone with Famuyiwa’s track record, versatility and skills. With the sheer abundance of properties available, Famuyiwa’s name will appear on several studios’ wish lists.

Superheroes, reboots, remakes and animated films will always rule the summer box office but there’s more than enough space for alternatives. Dope has hooked critics worldwide and now audiences are jonesing to see what all the fuss is about. The film is executive produced by Pharrell Williams and Puff Daddy. Dope stars Shemeik Moore, Zoe Kravitz, Kiersey Clemons  and Rick Fox. Dope will be released stateside on June 19.

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