On October 19th, the Chicago International Film Festival will unveil H4, the highly anticipated re-imagining of William Shakespeare’s King Henry IV: Parts I and II as a 21st century black experience. This epic coming of age tale features an innovative production where Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter is filmed onstage and the prose is shot against LA’s urban backdrop. Acclaimed actor and Shakespeare expert Harry Lennix (NBC’s The Blacklist, Man of Steel, Dollhouse, Commander in Chief, Titus, The Matrix) plays the title role of King Henry IV. He is joined by a remarkable cast that includes Amad Jackson (Prince Hal), Angus McFadyen (Falstaff), Nick Gillie (Poins), Victoria Tilford (Chief Justice), Geno Monteiro (Hotspur), Keith David (Worcester), Jeryl Sayles (Northumberland), Terrell Tilford (Westmoreland) and Keir Thirus (The Douglas). Rapping legend “Heavy D” (aka Dwight Myers) makes his final screen appearance as Archbishop Scroop.
Ayanna Thompson, essayist, author, and Professor of English at Arizona State University wrote the adaptation of H4.
“There are many people who think that Othello is a black Shakespeare film, but it’s not,” said Lennix. “What I mean by a black Shakespeare film is that for the first time, to my knowledge, we have taken a Shakespearian play and placed it in a recognizably black world. This film is from the perspective of black people, acted primarily by black people, and it’s from the black point of view. If Shakespeare must be studied by every student in the English speaking world, because of its universal relevant themes and characters, then why do I rarely see anyone black doing it? With H4 I’m saying that it is universal. The themes represented in Henry IV are as relevant and urgent today as when it was written in 1597. During the 2013 London Olympics, we were in Stratford upon Avon where we presented H4 to the International Shakespeare Conference. I was incredibly honored to see the enthusiastic reaction the film received.”
H4 is directed by Paul Quinn. Harry Lennix and Giovanni Zelko serve as Executive Producers and Heather Ankeny, Albena Dodeva, Danny Green, Steve Harris, Pierson Blaetz, Gil Bindelglas, and Mark Schwartz are producers.
The H4 premiere takes place Friday, October 19th, 8:30 p.m. at AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois Street, Chicago. Attending will be Producers Albena Dodeva and Danny Green along with Executive Producers Harry Lennix and Giovanni Zelko. There will be an encore performance on Sunday, Oct. 20th at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $14 and $11. Please visit H4 at www.facebook.com/H4TheMovie
ABOUT THE CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL:
Now in its 49th year, the Chicago International Film Festival is the longest-running competitive film festival in North America. The Festival was started in 1964 by filmmaker and graphic artist Michael Kutza to provide an alternative to the commercial Hollywood movies that dominated the city’s theaters. The Festival opened in 1965 at the Carnegie Theater, where King Vidor, Bette Davis, and Stanley Kramer were honored for their contributions to American cinema. Since then, the Festival has grown to become a world-renowned annual event. The Festival is dedicated to fostering better understanding between cultures and to making a positive contribution to the art form of the moving image. To learn more about CIFF please vist their website at www.chicagofilmfestival.com.