Blackbird (2014 film)

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Blackbird (2014 film) POSTER.jpg
Directed byPatrik-Ian Polk
Written byRikki Beadle-Blair
Patrik-Ian Polk
Produced byKeith Louis Brown
Patrik-Ian Polk
Carol Ann Shine
Isaiah Washington
Matthew Young
Isaiah Washington
Julian Walker
Kevin Allesee
Gary LeRoi Gray
Nikki Jane
Torrey Laamar
Terrell Tilford
D. Woods
CinematographyEun-ah Lee
Edited byBryan Colvin
Music byAdam Samuel Goldman
KBiz Entertainment
Tall Skinny Black Boy Productions
Distributed byRLJ Entertainment
Release dates
  • February 16, 2014 (2014-02-16) (Pan African Film Festival)
  • April 24, 2015 (2015-04-24)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States

Blackbird is a 2014 drama film directed by Patrik-Ian Polk and starring Mo'Nique and Isaiah Washington.[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 teenager 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 is tearing his family apart.



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:[3]

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.


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.[2] 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.[2]


Blackbird received mixed to negative reviews from critics. As of August 2020, 40% of the ten reviews compiled on Rotten Tomatoes are positive, with an average rating of 4.6/10.[4] The Hollywood Reporter called it "too all over the map to take seriously".[5] The New York Times said that the film has an "impressive, palpable conviction", although it ultimately "suffers from soapy excesses and narrative disjunctures".[6] Slant Magazine wrote: "Blackbird is, like its main character, too naïve to understand or, at least, to deploy the reparative powers of camp".[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Murphy, Mekado (2014-07-23). "Playing at Newfest". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  2. ^ a b c Tiggett, Jai (2015-02-10). "Exclusive: UMC Sets Theatrical Date for Patrik-Ian Polk's 'Blackbird' + New Release Poster + Trailer". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 2015-02-15. 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. ^ "Blackbird (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  5. ^ "'Blackbird': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Blackbird | Film Review | Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2018-03-16.

External links[edit]