Anne B. Real
|Anne B. Real|
Anne B. Real
|Directed by||Lisa France|
|Produced by||Luis Moro|
|Written by||Antonio Macia|
|Distributed by||Screen Media
Anne B. Real is a 2003 dramatic coming-of-age film by Lisa France and Luis Moro, starring David Zayas, Carlos Leon, Janice Richardson, Jackie Quinones, Eric Smith, Geronimo Frias Jr, Ernie Hudson, Nesta Ward, and Sherri Saum.
A teenage girl of Hispanic heritage named Cynthia Gimenez lives in a cramped Manhattan apartment on the edge of Spanish Harlem. Her mother and grandmother speak minimal English. Her older sister is an unwed mother living on welfare. Her older brother is a drug-dealing junkie. In the course of the film, Cynthia faces chaos and betrayal. One of her friends is deliberately murdered, while another of her loved ones is accidentally shot. She runs from the police at one point, and to them at another. But through it all, Cynthia has a secret friend: Anne Frank.
In a flashback scene early in the film, Cynthia’s now-dead father gives his young daughter a dog-eared copy of The Diary Of Anne Frank and for the rest of the film Anne’s words, read verbatim by Cynthia, provide both her solace and her inspiration. Cynthia buys herself a plaid notebook that looks very much like Anne’s original, and she retreats to her corner, like Anne did, to record her private thoughts. “All children must look after their own upbringing,” she reads, and from these words she understands that she can either blame her surroundings and give up, or take responsibility for her own future.
She finds out that her brother is selling her poems to a rapper named ‘Deuce’ who has been performing them and recording them and claiming them as his own. But with Anne’s voice in her head, Cynthia finds her courage, and by the end of the film she has transformed herself into an artist named “Anne B. Real.”
Behind the scenes
Sensitive to the raw language which pervades hip-hop culture, France and Moro insisted that the cast respect their intention to make a PG-rated film before they signed on. In an exclusive interview, France told the World Jewish Digest she had two reasons for this requirement. First she wanted the film to be suitable for everyone, including Anne’s legions of young readers: “Urban family entertainment is rare. We wanted to make a film that an 8-year old and a 90-year old could watch together and we would not feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.”
The second motivation was her respect for Anne Frank’s legacy. When Antonio Macia, who plays one of Cynthia’s teachers in the film, wrote the original screenplay, he paraphrased Anne’s words. Once the film was greenlit, however, Moro contacted the Anne Frank Foundation in Switzerland and received permission to quote extensively from the actual text. According to France, Buddy Elias, one of Anne’s last surviving relatives and the President of the Foundation, was extremely supportive.
Robert Koehler of Variety wrote in his review, "Imbued with street sense yet made with family-friendly limits on harsh language and violence, Anne B. Real is both a shamelessly contrived and unalterably sincere portrait of a high school girl who writes rap poetry in her Bronx 'hood." Bill Stamets of the Chicago Reader commented that Lisa France "creates some strong imagery and elicits compelling performances from her cast, and though redundant flashbacks betray a lack of trust in the narrative, her mature touch rescues this mean-streets saga from the usual uplift cliches." However, Josh Ralske of Allmovie called the film "a well-meaning drama with an original premise that still gets bogged down in formulaic plotting, uneven performances, and drab visuals."
Awards and recognition
In Elias' correspondence with Moro, he said, "I didn't know your film is made by African Americans. This thrills me, that alone is wonderful!!"
Elias' support in his letter to Moro said, "Congratulations to the awards!!!! Wonderful but it does not come as a surprise. The film is great. I had one exchange of letters with Steven Spielberg. You can write to him and let him know that I am supporting you and love the film. My wife and I are moved especially how Anne's and Otto's words are integrated in this film. With so much sensitivity. Thank you."
|2004||Independent Spirit Award||John Cassavetes Award||Lisa France, Luis Moro||Nominated|
|2004||Independent Spirit Award||Best Debut Performance||Janice (J-Nice) Richardson||Nominated|
|2004||Dubrovnik International Film Festival||Black Reel Award||Best Independent Film||Won|
|2003||American Film Festival Award||Best Performance by an Actress||Janice (J-Nice) Richardson||Won|
|2003||Santa Monica Film Festival||Best Dramatic Feature||Anne B. Real||Won|
|2003||Taos Land Grant Award||Tollbooth||Nominated|
- Films42 Anne Frank and Anne B. Real Films42 Anne Frank and Anne B. Real
- Koehler, Robert (February 25, 2003). "Anne B. Real". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- Stamets, Bill. "Anne B. Real". Chicago Reader. Chicago: Sun-Times Media. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- Ralske, Josh. "Anne B. Real (2002) - Review". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- Buddy Elias Anne Frank’s Last Living Relative, First Cousin Buddy Elias, Gives Insight Into Anne’s Life and Her Famous Diary
- Films42, ANNE B. REAL: A CINEMATIC HIP-HOP TRIBUTE TO ANNE FRANK by Lisa Huttner