Blackbird (2014 film)

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Blackbird (2014 film) POSTER.jpg
Directed by Patrik-Ian Polk
Produced by Keith Louis Brown
Patrik-Ian Polk
Carol Ann Shine
Isaiah Washington
Matthew Young
Written by Rikki Beadle-Blair
Patrik-Ian Polk
Starring Julian Walker
Isaiah Washington
Music by Adam Samuel Goldman
Cinematography Eun-ah Lee
Edited by Bryan Colvin
KBiz Entertainment
Tall Skinny Black Boy Productions
Release date
  • February 16, 2014 (2014-02-16) (Pan African Film Festival)
  • April 24, 2015 (2015-04-24)
Country United States
Language English

Blackbird is a 2014 drama film directed by Patrik-Ian Polk and starring Mo'Nique and Isaiah Washington in the lead roles.[1] The film is adapted from the novel of the same name by Larry Duplechan and was released theatrically on April 24, 2015.[2]


A gay teen in high school in a small Baptist town in Mississippi struggles with his religion and his sexuality. To make matters worse, his younger sister has been missing for years and it's tearing his family apart.


  • Julian Walker as Randy Rousseau
  • Mo'Nique as Claire Rousseau
  • Isaiah Washington as Lance Rousseau
  • Kevin Allesee as Marshall MacNeil
  • Terrel Tilford as Pastor Crandall
  • Gary LeRoi Gray as Efrem
  • Torrey Laamar as Todd Waterson
  • Nikki Jane as Crystal


Polk initially tried to get the film made several years earlier, with Jussie Smollett cast as the young lead, however financing fell through.[3] When the funding came through years later, he was forced to re-cast because of Smollett's busy schedule on Empire, and struggled to find a black male actor who would portray a gay love story on screen.[3] However, he later met Julian Walker, who is openly gay, and chose to cast him despite his lack of acting experience.[3]

Polk discussed, in an interview with BuzzFeed, the need for more stories featuring gay men who aren't white:

"Through my years of filmmaking, we have seen the gay coming-of-age story from every possible white male point of view ... We’ve seen it over, and over, and over.”[3]


The film had a successful run on the film festival circuit, winning awards at several LGBT-oriented festivals including Outflix Memphis, Atlanta’s Out On Film Festival, and the Crossroads Film Festival in Polk’s native Mississippi.[4] The film was the closing night gala screening for Los Angeles’ Pan African Film Festival (PAFF), where it won the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature Film.[4]


Blackbird received mixed reviews from critics upon release; on film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, only 25% of critics reviewed the film positively.[5] The Hollywood Reporter called it "too all over the map to take seriously".[6] The New York Times said that the film has an "impressive, palpable conviction", although it ultimately "suffers from soapy excesses and narrative disjunctures".[7] Slant Magazine wrote: "Blackbird is, like its main character, too naïve to understand or, at least, to deploy the reparative powers of camp".[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Murphy, Mekado (2014-07-23). "Playing at Newfest". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-16. 
  2. ^ Tiggett, Jai (2015-02-10). "Exclusive: UMC Sets Theatrical Date for Patrik-Ian Polk's 'Blackbird' + New Release Poster + Trailer". IndieWire. Retrieved 2018-03-16. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Filmmaker Patrik-Ian Polk Is Still Telling Definitive Black Gay Stories". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2018-03-16. 
  4. ^ a b Tiggett, Jai (2015-02-10). "Exclusive: UMC Sets Theatrical Date for Patrik-Ian Polk's 'Blackbird' + New Release Poster + Trailer". IndieWire. Retrieved 2018-03-16. 
  5. ^ Blackbird - Rotten Tomatoes, retrieved 2018-03-16 
  6. ^ "'Blackbird': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-03-16. 
  7. ^ Webster, Andy (2015-04-26). "Review: A Young Man's Voyage, Awash in Taboo Desires, in 'Blackbird'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-16. 
  8. ^ "Blackbird | Film Review | Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2018-03-16. 

External links[edit]