I attended my first advanced screening tonight through Chicago International Film Festival. I drove into Chicago tonight, trying to make it a half hour early to get a good seat. I got all the way there pretty much all the way from Aurora to Chicago well, but then my GPS started messing up right in the heart of the city. After some massive guess and check, I parked close to Navy Pier. It was about five until seven, the time in which the screening started, and I saw on my phone that I was still ten minutes away from the theater. I booked it, I ran and ran. I got to the theater at 7:04pm. Went to the CIFF table, got my pass and my name checked off the list. I got into the auditorium right as the film was starting. I ended up getting a seat in the front row. There are cons to coming late though, I was in the front row of the Q&A with David Oyelowo, the lead star of "A United Kingdom" as well as the film's producer.
I recorded lots of the interview. Two videos are on my Facebook live on my Facebook account. Some others I posted on Youtube and published along with this blog post. Please forgive me for posting such sporadic videos, but I was trying to conserve my phone battery.
There were lots of highlights to the interview. David Oyelowo is an incredible speaker, and I DO MEAN INCREDIBLE. He was funny, he was informative, he spoke with strong passion. He was a delight. He's apparently the son of a Nigerian prince and one of the things that he discussed tonight that really touched me was how if he could go back in time and talk to a younger version of him, he'd say that his work on "A United Kingdom" was his life coming full circle, verifying himself as an artist. When he was growing up, his big inspiration was Sidney Poitier. Which is no surprise, we didn't have the surplus of African American actors that we do now. Not many Will Smiths and Samuel L. Jacksons and Denzel Washingtons during that time, so Poitier was a major influence for his time. I am glad that Oyelowo believes that he has created something that makes his career feel complete.
After the initial questions, the floor was opened up to questions from the crowd. I remember someone asking if the release of this film was on purpose with current events of our time. Oyelowo liked the question, and it seems awfully fitting with what's been going on in the world for the last year. Oyelowo talked a great deal about cinema being a "powerful tool" in overcoming prejudice and understanding the world around us. We are so quick to just hate each other for simply not believing in the same things, and that's not good. It will eventually lead to destruction. Cinema unites us, cinema shows us that love can overcome hate, and art can feel revolutionary. In times like this, art will always be very important, and Oyelowo's profound and provocative answer to the question lead to a round of applause.
You can see other highlights of the night below. You can find my review: right here. Overall, a great night in the Windy City. Can't wait to see what's next.