Judas and The Black Messiah

Judas and The Black Messiah
Date: 19/10/2021 Times: 7:30 pm - 9:35 pm

This is a film that is famous for the performance of Daniel Kaluuya, who won the Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, portraying Fred Hampton, the young Black Panther, who was betrayed by a friend and assassinated by the FBI in 1969. However, it was also nominated for Best Film at the Oscars.

Writer-director Shaka King’s film lays bare the dirty war that the FBI and American police have waged for years against Black Americans. King tells the story behind Hampton’s murder – as he lay sleeping next to his pregnant fiancée – from the point-of-view of William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), an FBI informant who infiltrated the Illinois Black Panthers and shared the floor plans of Hampton’s home with the authorities. King directs Judas and the Black Messiah with a refreshingly flinty sense of moral clarity, evident right from the film’s opening montage, which cuts from an archival clip of Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale listing the party’s mutual aid missions – free breakfast for children, free healthcare, free schools – to the movie’s J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen) declaring the Panthers the ‘greatest threat to internal security of the country’. 

Through O’Neal’s wary eyes, we get to know Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) and his inner circle, played with style and grit by Ashton Sanders, Algee Smith and Dominique Thorne. It’s a joy to see a fine actor like Kaluuya sink his teeth into the fiery speeches that won Hampton scores of followers and helped forge multiracial coalitions with the Young Lords, a Latino group, and the white Young Patriots. It’s a rousing yet humble performance that renders Hampton less a messiah than a man with bone-deep conviction – who’s vulnerable, all the same, to endearing shyness in intimate moments with his girlfriend, Deborah Johnson (an outstanding Dominique Fishback).  

For reviews and further information, please click below.

Judas and The Black Messiah

Year: 2021

Country: USA

Cert: 15

Duration: 126 mins

Dir: Shaka King

'a truly gripping Black Panther drama'

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Venue: William Loveless Hall