Saturday, April 30, 2016


Film Review by Kam Williams

Suburban Nerds Masquerade as Hardened Gangstas to Retrieve Cat from the 'Hood

Rell (Jordan Peele) was so inconsolable after being dumped by his girlfriend that getting high didn't help ease the pain. But then, while crying on the shoulder of his cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key), a cute, little kitten appeared on his doorstep. 
Seeing this as a sign of divine intervention, Rell adopted the adorable stray, which he proceeded to feed, bathe and name Keanu, Hawaiian for "cool breeze." But after bonding for the next couple of weeks, his newfound state of bliss ended abruptly with the kidnapping of Keanu during a break in by members of the 17th Street Blips.

The Blips are a ruthless drug gang from the wrong side of the proverbial tracks. So, Rell realizes that to rescue his pet he's going to have to venture into the heart of the ghetto.

This is a tall order for a nerd from the burbs totally unfamiliar with the ways of the 'hood. for some reason, he enlists the assistance of his equally-geeky cousin, whose wife (Nia Long) and daughter (Jordyn A. Davis) very conveniently just happen to be going away for the weekend.

Rell and Clarence adopt gangsta' alias, Tectonic and Shark Tank, respectively, before confronting Cheddar (Method Man), the Blips' bloodthirsty kingpin. They also deliberately abandoned their bourgie black accents for grammar-butchering Ebonics laced with profanity, the N-word and lots of double negatives.

Of course, retrieving Keanu proves to be quite complicated, as not only Cheddar but a Latino crime boss (Luis Guzman) has staked a claim to the cat (which he refers to as Iglesias). And it is very important that the cousins never admit their middle-class roots lest they risk being exposed as lacking street cred.

Thus unfolds Keanu, a one-trick pony or, should I say, a one-trick kitty directed by Peter Atencio, director of 54 episodes of the Key and Peel TV show. This fish-out-of-water comedy repeatedly relies on the theme that these guys have no idea how to survive in the slums on the run from myriad maladroit morons. That running joke gets tired after about 10 minutes, but the stretch-o-matic skit format insists on beating the dead horse for another hour and a half.

That's irritainment!

Fair (1 star)
Rated R for violence, sexuality, nudity, drug use, inncessant ethnic slurs and pervasive profanity
Running time: 98 minutes
Distributor: New Line Cinema / Warner Brothers

To see a trailer for Keanu, visit:

Friday, April 29, 2016

Top Ten DVD Releases for 5-3-16

This Week’s DVD Releases
by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for May 3, 2016

East Side Sushi

Hostile Border

Easy Rider [The Criterion Collection]

Top Gun [30th Anniversary Steelbook]

The Randolph Scott Round-Up Volume Two: Six Classic Westerns [The Desperadoes / The Nevadan / Santa Fe / Man in the Saddle / Hangman's Knot / The Stranger Wore a Gun]

The Brokenwood Mysteries: Series Two

Henry Gamble's Birthday Party

Hammer Films Collection: Volume Two [Creatures the World Forgot / The Revenge of Frankenstein / Maniac/ Never Take Candy from a Stranger / The Snorkel / Die! Die! My Darling!]

The Club

Bikes vs Cars

Honorable Mention

Dog House: The Complete Series

Let's Learn: S.T.E.M. Volume Two

Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors

Hyena Road

Bob the Builder: Construction Heroes!

Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre

The 5th Wave

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Club

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Pedophile Priests Shown Sympathy in South American Drama

The Oscar-winning Best Picture Spotlight addressed the problem of pedophilia in the priesthood from the point of view of the victims. But if you're looking for a take on the issue more sympathetic to the perpetrators, have I got a movie for you. 
Nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Foreign Language Film category, The Club is a disturbing, deliberately-paced drama for the very open-minded directed by Pablo Larrain (Post Mortem). The picture is set at a mountaintop estate nestled along the Chilean seacoast where a half-dozen defrocked clergymen have been sent to repent. 
The secluded retreat is run with a firm hand by Sister Monica (Antonia Zegers), a disgraced nun with a checkered past of her own. Nevertheless. it's her job to enforce house rules dictated by the Vatican including no communication with outsiders, no cell phones, no self-pleasuring, no self-flagellation, and a vow of poverty.

Consequently, the former pastors' Spartan-like daily regime consists of little more than chores, attending mass, confessing their sins and praying the rosary between meals. Still, there is much to be gleaned from the clerics' conversations among themselves.

This one feigns innocence, claiming, "I didn't commit a crime. I'm not a queer." Another, ostensibly wracked with guilt, eventually finds a gun and shoots himself in the head, when he can no longer live with himself. And there's an unrepentant soul who says "I see the light of the Lord in homosexuality," arguing that man-boy love brings one closer to God than heterosexuality. 
Rules are made to be broken, and the plot thickens when a housemate sneaks into town where he forges a friendship with a fellow pederast offering to procure all the local kids he'd like to rape. Will he or won't he take the creep up on the offer? 
An eerily-unsettling examination of pedophilia from the perspective of the perpetrators suggesting that these sex offenders might not be monsters, but merely misunderstood children of God.

Very Good (3 stars)
In Spanish with subtitles
Running time: 97 minutes
Distributor: Music Box Films
DVD Extras: Commentary by co-stars Alfredo Castro and Antonia Zegers; interviews with Antonia Zegers and director Pablo Larrain; Berlinale press conference excerpt; and a collector's booklet featuring cast and crews interviews and an essay by film critic Jessica Kiang.

To see a trailer for The Club, visit:

To order a copy of The Club on DVD, visit:


Kam's Kapsules for Movies Opening 5-6-16

Kam's Kapsules:
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams
For movies opening May 5, 2016


A Bigger Splash (R for profanity, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity and brief drug use) Erotic thriller, loosely based on La Piscine (1969), revolving around a rock icon (Tilda Swinton) whose vacation with her boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts) on a remote Italian island is disrupted by the arrival of an old friend (Ralph Fiennes) with his daughter (Dakota Johnson) in tow. Featuring Lily McMenamy, Aurore Clement and Elena Bucci.

Captain America: Civil War (PG-13 for extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem) 13th episode in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series finds the Avengers split into a pair of adversarial factions, freedom lovers led by Captain America (Chris Evans), and a pro-government camp led by Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.). With Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Paul Rudd.


Beautiful Something (Unrated) Homoerotic ensemble drama following the fates of four gay males (Colman Domingo, Zack Ryan, John Lescault and Brian Sheppard) dealing with relationships over the course of one very eventful evening. With David Melissaratos, Grant Lancaster and Matthew Rios.

Dark Horse (PG for mature themes and mild epithets) Inspirational, rags-to-riches documentary recounting how a group of working-class Welshmen successfully pooled their resources to raise a great racehorse.

Elsetree 1976 (Unrated) Nostalgic documentary featuring fond reminiscences by extras and actors who played supporting roles in the original Star Wars movie. Cast includes Paul Blake, Jeremy Bulloch and John Chapman.

A Monster with a Thousand Heads (Unrated) Revenge thriller about a desperate woman (Jana Raluy) who takes the law into her own hands after her insurance company denies medical care for cancer-stricken husband. Featuring Sebastian Aguirre, Hugo Algores and Emilio Echevarria. (In Spanish with subtitles)

Mothers and Daughters (PG-13 for mature themes and brief drug use) Ensemble drama serendipitously interweaving numerous characters' meditations on motherhood. Cast includes Susan Sarandon, Selma Blair, Sharon Stone, Courteney Cox, Christina Ricci and Mira Sorvino.

Pele: Birth of a Legend (PG for smoking, mature themes and mild epithets) Soccer boiopic chronicling the legendary Pele's (Kevin de Paula) rise from the slums of Sao Paulo to lead Brazil to its first World Cup victory when he was just 17 years-old. With Colm Meaney, Vincent D'Onofrio and Rodrigo Santoro.

Phantom of the Theatre (Unrated) Haunted house horror flick, set in Shanghai, revolving around the reopening of a cursed theater, 13 years after a performance troupe was murdered there. Co-starring Ruby Lin, Simon Yam and Tony Yo-ning Yang. (In Mandarin with subtitles)

Rabin in His Own words (Unrated) Reverential biopic about Yitzhak Rabin (1922-1995), narrated by the assassinated Israeli Prime Minister himself via a combination of home movies and archival news footage. (In Hebrew with subtitles)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Film Review by Kam Williams

Jewish Baker Takes Muslim Apprentice in Unlikely-Buddies Dramedy

Nat (Jonathan Pryce) is the owner of Dayan and Son, a Kosher bakery located in London. The store's name is a bit of a misnomer since he's been the only Dayan working there ever since his father passed away.

Nat's disappointed that his own son, Stephen (Daniel Caltagirone), opted to become a lawyer rather than join the family business. Consequently, he had to settle for teaching the tricks of the trade to a neighborhood kid (Dominic Garfield), only to have that sole assistant eventually stolen away by Sam Cotton (Philip Davis), a conniving competitor planning to open another bakery right next door.

To add insult to injury, Cotton is also wining and dining Nat's lonely landlord Joanna Silverman (Pauline Collins), not out of affection, but to buy the building for a song. If successful, he'll be able to kick Nat out once the lease expires. Worst of all, Dayan and Son is having trouble staying afloat due to a dwindling clientele that's dying off.

Nat's fortunes change soon after he hires Ayyash (Jerome Holder), a teenaged Muslim immigrant from Darfur, as his new apprentice. For, it isn't long before the store is attracting long lines of customers. 
But what Nat doesn't know is that Ayyash has been spiking the batter with marijuana. That's the reason for the sudden increase in satisfied shoppers. Of course, it's just a matter of time before the cat's out of the bag, and matters come to a head when the proprietor gets an explanation for his skyrocketing profits.

Thus unfolds Dough, a tender-hearted dramedy directed by John Goldschmidt (Maschenka). The cross-cultural adventure milks most of its humor and tension out of the friendship grudgingly forged between between unlikely-buddies Nat and Ayyash. The picture effectively contrasts the former's being old, Jewish,white, British and middle-class with the latter's being young, Muslim, black, African and living hand to mouth. 
The film also features a surprising number of intriguing subplots, including a love triangle involving Nat, Joanna and Cotton; Ayyash and his mother's (Natasha Gordon) becoming homeless, Nat's neglected granddaughter (Melanie Freeman) craving quality time with her grampa, and Ayyash's antagonizing a vengeful drug dealer (Ian Hart).

By the closing tableau, all the loose ends are tied up quite satisfactorily, and we've also learned a very timely lesson in tolerance. 'Dough'-lightful!

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 94 minutes
Studio: Viva Films
Distributor: Menemsha Films

To see a trailer for Dough, visit:

Monday, April 25, 2016

Tyler James Williams

The “RePlay” Interview

with Kam Williams

Tyler Talks about His New Sci-Fi Series

Born in Westchester County, New York on October 9, 1992, Tyler James Williams can be seen this spring co-starring as computer whiz Monty in CBS' Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, a new spinoff series. Early last year, he guest-starred as Noah in AMC’s The Walking Dead.

In 2014, he impersonated Steve Urkel on Key & Peele. The skit received rave reviews and was named the #1 sketch of the year by New York Magazine.

On the big screen, Tyler starred as Lionel Higgins in the breakout film Dear White People, a satire about being a black face in a very white place. The picture was well-received, including winning the Special Jury Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The year before, he appeared in Peeples opposite Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson.

Tyler might be best known for his work on the Emmy Award-winning series Everybody Hates Chris for which he won a 2007 NAACP Image Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. In 2012, he was nominated for another Image Award for his performance as a gifted rapper plagued by self-doubt in the Disney Channel Original Movie, Let It Shine.

Tyler began acting at the age of 4 on Sesame Street and he subsequently co-starred in the animated series Little Bill. His other television credits include Law & Order: SVU, as well as numerous appearances in sketches on Saturday Night Live.

An accomplished musician, Tyler recently released a mixtape with his brother Tyrel titled Me, My Brother & a Mic. Here, he talks about starring in RePlay, a scripted time-loop series from New Form Digital which debuted on April 20th.

To see the premiere episode of RePlay, visit: 

Kam Williams: Hi Tyler, thanks for the interview.
Tyler James Williams: Thank you, Kam.

KW: What interested you in RePlay?
TJW: I just really liked the story and I loved the movie Groundhog’s Day.

KW: How would you describe the series in 140 characters or less?
TJW: It’s DJ Allison Lee’s (Lyndsy Fonseca) 25th birthday party and she just HAS to impress promoters. She fails and wishes for another try. She gets 25 chances to get it right.

KW: The premise does sound a little like Groundhog's Day.
TJW: Yes, I would describe it as a modern day Groundhog’s Day. I really liked RePlay because it wasn’t just Allison’s character that experienced a replay, but eventually her friends realize they are also reliving the same day. And it is interesting to see how humans would act if they knew there were never any consequences for their actions because the next day they could wake up and just redo it.

KW: If you had an opportunity to repeat the most important day of your life until you got it right, would you?
TJW: Oh man, I think I would. I would probably take a really bad date from when I was younger where just everything went wrong.

KW: How would you describe your character?
TJW: I play Nate who is Allison’s best friend, but he is secretly in love with her. He is in the “friends zone,” but really tries to get out of it. Each day, he gets a bit more desperate.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
TJW: I love breakfast food any time of the day.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
TJW: Well I remember everything from my days shooting Sesame Street. It was such an incredible experience. My mom also convinced me to steal one of Big Bird's feathers, which I still have.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you've learned so far?
TJW: Patience, always be patient. I also believe everything happens for a reason. 
KW: What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
TJW: Hmm... How about shooting the RePlay party scene over and over again and doing the wake up scene 25 times on the same day in a row! That was pretty crazy! [Laughs]

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
TJW: When I am in New York, I love going to a Chinese restaurant and ordering chicken wings and fries.

KW: “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan asks: What’s your dream locale in Los Angeles to live?
TJW: I really like where I live in L.A. right now. I live in the Valley and I feel I picked a spot that has some New York aspects. There are diners and a corner store.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?
TJW: Money and a hair tie for my personal trainer Jimmy. You never know when he needs to put it up in a man bun. [Laughs] I am really into fitness right now and trying to bulk up.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Tyler, and best of luck with all your endeavors.
TJW: My pleasure, Kam.

To see a trailer for RePlay, visit:

To watch episodes of RePlay, visit:

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Dispatches from the Gulf

Film Review by Kam Williams

Eco-Documentary Assesses State of the Gulf of Mexico Six Years after Catastrophic Oil Spill

On April 20, 2010, an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig claimed 11 lives while igniting a fireball that could be seen as far as 40 miles away. The blowout also triggered a leak of over 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the worst spill in American history. 
Short term, the frightening disaster certainly had a catastrophic effect on the Gulf's fisheries, fauna, water and wildlife. Nevertheless, many wondered whether the region would ever recover from the tragedy. 
A team of experts decided to tackle that question, and the upshot of that effort is Dispatches from the Gulf, an eco-documentary directed by Hal Weiner (Journey to Planet Earth). Narrated by Matt Damon, the film relates some very surprising findings on the part of the scientists. 
For example, they learned that "the sun has done a remarkable job of breaking down the oil molecules." About half of the petroleum slime has evaporated, a quarter of it washed up on beaches, and the other quarter was either burned or siphoned off by dispersants. 
In terms of the seafood industry, it turns out that Gulf fish have substantially recovered, although they are generally smaller than they used to be. However, they did discover contaminated coral still consuming oil on the ocean floor when they descended via submersible to a depth of 5,000 feet.

In the end, the group concluded that the monitoring of the Gulf must continue, as there are no easy answers and no quick fixes for this unprecedented, man-made calamity with unanticipated fallout remaining a distinct possibility. Meanwhile, the next time you're in New Orleans, consider it perfectly safe to order the gumbo again!

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 60 minutes
Distributor: Screenscope

To see a trailer for Dispatches from the Gulf, visit:


Film Review by Kam Williams

Reverential Retrospective Revisits Life and Career of Charismatic Pop Artist

David Hockney was born in Bradford, England in 1937 which means that his formative years were substantially shaped by World War II, from the air raids to the food rationing. He attended both the Bradford College of Art and the Royal College of Art before scraping up just enough money to move to the United States.

In 1964, he settled in California where he became one of the seminal founders of the Pop Art movement. Like his contemporary Andy Warhol, Hockney had a knack for drawing the attention of the press, between his bleached blond hair and his flamboyant wardrobe. 
But while both icons were gay, only David dared to feature homoerotic themes in his art. Despite the stigma associated with homosexuality back in the Sixties, he still managed to achieve enormous success. 
That enduring career as well as his self-indulgent private life prove to be fertile fodder for Hockney, a reverential biopic featuring a mix of home movie footage and intimate interviews with David's friends and associates. The intriguing documentary marks the feature film 
directorial debut of Randall Wright, who does a great job of humanizing his subject to the point where you really feel as though you know this inscrutable, if charismatic public figure. 
A fascinating examination of the mind, motivations and legacy of one of the 20th Century's most important, modern artists.

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 112 minutes
Distributor: Film Movement

To see a trailer for Hockney, visit:

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Burning Bodhi

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Millennial Generation's Variation on "The Big Chill" Arrives on DVD

Bodhi was a popular guy back in high school several years ago. So, when he passed away unexpectedly from an aneurysm, it's no surprise that many of his friends might decide to return home to attend the funeral. 
Among the pals descending on Albuquerque for the services is Miguel (Eli Vargas) who picks up a pregnant hitchhiker (Sasha Pieterse) en route from Chicago. Another is Miguel's roommate, Dylan (Landon Liboiron) whose mom (Virginia Madsen) hasn't seen her son since he went away to college. 
Then there's Ember (Cody Horn), a promiscuous bimbo who admits to sleeping with Bodhi despite identifying herself as a lesbian. And Katy (Kaley Cuoco), who has a child being raised by her grandmother, is out on probation after spending time behind bars for drug possession and for leading police on a high-speed car chase.

This motley crew of mourners and a few others reunite to reminisce, imbibe and asses the state of their lives in Burning Bodhi, an alternately whimsical and sobering meditation on mortality. The movie marks the outstanding writing and directorial debut of Matthew McDuffie who exhibits quite a knack for capturing the attitudes and angst of today's twenty-somethings. 

His pithy dialogue is laced with lots of memorable lines like, "May the light at the end of the tunnel is just you coming out of another vagina." Executing the flip script is a very talented ensemble led by The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco who exhibits an impressive acting range in a role far afield from the person (Penny) she plays on that popular sitcom.

The plot thickens when Dylan's jealous girlfriend Lauren (Meghann Fahey) shows up in time to put the kibosh on any rekindling of romance between him and his ex, Katy. Meanwhile, Ember can hardly contain her crush on Katy, who was dumped by Dylan for sleeping with dearly departed Bodhi right after he left for the Windy City. And so forth.

To summarize in 25 words or less, this compelling, character-driven soap opera examines the incestuous coupling, uncoupling, re-coupling, revelations and regrets among a wacky clique of world-weary ex-classmates. A trendy, Millennial Generation variation on The Big Chill which gives that beloved classic a real run for its money. 


Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity, sexual references and drug use.
Running time: 93 minutes
Distributor: Monterey Video
DVD Extras: Interviews with the actors.

To see a trailer for Burning Bodhi, visit:

To order a copy of Burning Bodhi on DVD, visit:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Top Ten DVD Releases for 4-26-16

by Kam Williams

This Week’s DVD Releases

Cary Grant: The Vault Collection [18 Films from the Archives]

The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates

Son of Saul
Burning Bodhi


Ride Along 2

Art House

19-2: Season One

Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson


Honorable Mention

Wabbit: Season One, Part One

Death Becomes Her

Bloody Wednesday

No Evidence of Disease

The Driftless Area

Kam's Kapsules for Movies Opening 4-29-16

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams



Keanu (R for violence, sexuality, nudity, drug use and pervasive profanity) Suburbia meets the 'hood comedy about a couple of bourgie cousins (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) who pose as drug-dealing gangstas in order to rescue a beloved pet from the ghetto. With Nia Long, Will Forte and Method Man.

Mother's Day (PG-13 for profanity and suggestive material) Ensemble comedy revolving around a cornucopia of characters whose lives serendipitously intersect over the course of a very eventful week leading up to Mother's Day. Cast includes Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, Loni Love, Hector Elizondo and Jon Lovitz.

Ratchet & Clank (PG for action and rude humor) Animated adaptation of the sci-fi video game about a mechanic (James Arnold Taylor) who joins forces with a renegade robot (David Kaye) to prevent an evil alien (Paul Giamatti) from destroying every planet in the galaxy. Voice cast includes Sly Stallone, John Goodman, Bella Thorne, Rosario Dawson and Jim Ward.

Special Correspondents (Unrated) Ricky Gervais wrote, directed and co-stars in this remake of Envoyes Tres Speciaux, the French farce about a radio journalist (Eric Bana) and assistant (Gervais) who decide to fake their own disappearance and flee to New York during an uprising in a South American Banana Republic. With Vera Farmiga, America Ferrara and Benjamin Bratt.


3rd Street Blackout (Unrated) Romantic comedy about a tech-addicted couple (Negin Farsad and Jeremy Redleaf) forced by a Huirricane Sandy power outage to face each other sans electronic devices. With Janeane Garofalo, Devin Ratray and Ed Weeks.

A Beautiful Planet (G) Jennifer Lawrence narrates this eco-documentary examining humanity's relationship with the Earth via footage shot from the International Space Station.

Dough (Unrated) Unlikely-buddies dramedy about a Jewish shopkeeper (Jonathan Pryce) who revives his failing bakery with the help of his Muslim apprentice's (Jerome Holder) marijuana-spiked yeast. With Ian Hart, Philip Davis and Malachi Kirby.

The Family Fang (R for profanity) Jason Bateman directed this adaptation of Kevin Wilson's best seller about a brother (Bateman) and sister's (Nicole Kidman) search for their performance artist parents (Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett) who disappeared without a trace. Cast includes Kathryn Hahn, Jason Butler Harner and Marin Ireland.

The Man Who Knew Infinity (PG-13 for smoking and mature themes) Adaptation of the best-seller of the same name about a promising math prodigy (Dev Patel) brought to Cambridge University from the slums of India by a professor (Jeremy Irons) who recognized the kid's genius. Cast includes Toby Jones, Stephen Fry and Jeremy Northam. (In Tamil and English with subtitles)

Papa Hemingway in Cuba (R for profanity, sexuality, nudity and some violence) Slice-of-life biopic, set in Havana, recounting the friendship Ernest Hemingway (Adrian Sparks) forged with a reporter from Miami (Giovanni Ribisi) during the Cuban Revolution. With Minka Kelly, Mariel Hemingway, James Remar and Joely Richardson.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Kimberly Conner

The "Before 'I Do'” Interview
with Kam Williams

The Wizardry of Kimberly 
Writer/director/author/producer Kimberly Conner is the founder of Predestined Arts 
& Entertainment. An honors graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Kim has been a
finalist in several screenwriting competitions, including the Hollywood Black Film 
Festival, the Urban Media Makers Film Festival in Atlanta, and the Screenwriting
Program at the University of Southern California.  

Her directorial debut, This Life Ain’t Pretty, was based on a true story. The socially-
conscious short film challenges stereotypical beliefs associated with HIV/AIDS in 
young, black, heterosexual America. Kim’s first full-length feature, Jump In, revolved 
around a law school graduate/single-mom's quest to pass the bar exam. En route, 
she is blindsided by the unthinkable, family ties are pushed to the limit, and 
astounding revelations unfold.  
Here, she talks about her new film, Before 'I Do,' an ensemble drama which is set 
to premiere in her hometown of Springfield, Illinois on April 30, 2016 at the Hoogland 
Center For the Arts. 

Kam Williams: Hi Kim, thanks for the interview.
Kimberly Conner: Thank you, Kam. I'm honored.

KW: What inspired you to write Before 'I Do'?
KC: My desire is for everyone to discover their passion. Life is short. It is my hope that people will watch this film and vow to follow it. So often, we do not do that. Fear holds us back. We listen to the opinions of others instead of listening to that voice inside of us. Film is the vehicle that I use to convey what I feel is a very important message.

KW: Why did you pick a firefighter for your protagonist? I ask because my father had a long career in the NYFD, eventually rising to the rank of Captain, and my uncle, Gus Beekman, was appointed Fire Commissioner in 1978 by Mayor Ed Koch.
KC: Wow. That's interesting..I love Firefighters. I respect what they do. It takes a special person to run into a burning house to save someone that they don't even know. I admire that. As a kid, the fire chief lived right across the street from us. At the time, it seemed like an easy job. I never really saw the dangers, just the glamour of it all. He's retired now, but he still lives in the same house, across the street from my Dad. I found it intriguing. I wanted to show what it's like to be a firefighter, so I spent time with several different departments, talking with and observing firefighters to give the story credibility and to shed elements of truth throughout the film.

KW: How would you describe your main character, Caleb?
KC: Caleb is complicated. Beneath it all, he's a good guy. But, he's jaded. He wants to move on after being ditched at the altar, but he's stuck there. Life suddenly forces him down a narrow path, but he comes out wiser, ultimately.

KW: The film is rich with characters and subplots. Would you consider it fair to describe it as similar to a soap opera or romance novel?
KC: It's fair to say that the film plays out somewhat like a romance novel. If it's compared to a soap opera, it would have to be an urban soap opera. It has a lot of twists and turns, just like in real life.

KW: Before 'I Do' is about secrets. Have you ever accidentally uncovered a deep secret?
KC: Not by accident.

KW: The Melissa Harris-Perry question: How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?
KC: I'm wiser, more selective, as a result. I'm careful about whom I get close to, whom I allow in my circle, in my heart.

KW: What's your target audience?
KC: My target audiences are women and men, age 24-45, African-American, Latino, and white, and middle age and older adults, age 50-70, white, African-American, and Latino.

KW: What message do you want people to take away from Before "I Do"?
KC: Pursue your passion, despite what others think. It may not be popular. It may not make sense. Life can change in the blink of an eye. Seize every opportunity. Take the risk.

KW: This is your third film. How would you describe your evolution as a writer/director?
KC: With each film, I'm learning, growing stronger, as a writer and as a businesswoman. Each film should be better than the last. I see evidence of that in my work. I'm building a team, not just producers and crew, but with repeat investors that believe in my work and my message. It's a process. After I complete each film, I make a list of the lessons that I learned on that production, things that I could improve upon. I ask myself questions like, "What can I do smarter? What can I do better? What do I need in order to be a successful?" Then, I apply those lessons to the next production.

KW: You're already in pre-production on your next two movies, Lipstick and Macabre. What are they about?
KC: Lipstick is a suspense thriller about a serial killer that targets male victims, spinning investigators through a myriad of twists and turns. Macabre is a psychological joy ride.

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to make?
KC: Yes, absolutely. I'd love to do a modern day Out of Darkness. The film starred Diana Ross, and came out years ago. Mental illness is a topic that deserves more attention and that I'd like to take on through film.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
KC: The multi-colored, shag carpet in our house on Bradley Avenue. I had to be about 3 or 4 years old, but I remember that house and the layout very well.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?
KC: Yes, you could say so. As it relates to the film, Caleb was named after Caleb in the Bible because he was courageous. Naming the lead Caleb was definitely intentional. As far back as I can remember, I've always known about God. From birth, my parents taught us about God.

KW: What motivates you?
KC: I'm motivated to succeed, to get my work out there, to get better and better, to expand in film and television. I'm motivated by a competitive streak. I refuse to be shut out of this industry, predominantly made up of white males. I deserve to be heard. My stories deserve to be told, just the same.

KW: Teri Emerson asks: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
KC: Today. My sister sent me a video of a lady beating up her boyfriend. It was hilarious. He thought he could take her. He quickly found out otherwise, learning a valuable lesson. That was the laugh of the day.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
KC: I see a fighter, a driven, young woman. I see victory. And success. 
KW: What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
KC: I got married in Las Vegas.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
KC: World peace.

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
KC: Life excites me. I love to travel. Visiting new countries. Seeing God's awesome power and authority on Earth. Testing God's promises. Stepping out in faith. Putting my faith to work. These things excite me. Being on set is like Heaven on Earth to me. Nothing excites me like film. It's my favorite place to be.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
KC: I have to have something sweet, at least once a day, on most days, be it cookies or ice cream. I don't deny myself.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
KC: The question no one asks is, "Are you single?" I think they assume I'm married or in a relationship. The answer is "Yes."

KW: Mike Pittman asks: What was your best career decision?
KC: Moving to Springfield, Illinois. It opened the door to a wealth of opportunities in state government, as well as film.

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
KC: Drive. Ambition. Perseverance. Patience. Organizational skills. And time management.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?
KC: Umm...Dust.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Kim, and best of luck with all your endeavors.
KC: Thank you, Kam! And I'm looking forward to your review of my next film!

To see the trailer for Before "I Do," visit: