Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield are bringing Black history to the big screen in this forthcoming must-watch film, Judas and the Black Messiah. It chronicles the events leading up to the assassination of Fred Hampton.
Kaluuya, who also gave stunning performances in Get Out and Queen and Slim, portrays Hampton, a captivating, young activist who quickly rose to become Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. His natural gift for public speaking allowed him to charm people of all races across the nation and encourage them to work together to support the party’s social justice initiatives.
He was only 21 years old when he was assassinated by the FBI while he lay sleeping beside his pregnant fiancé. The agency had been looking to silence him for months, and was able to pin down his exact whereabouts by coercing a low-level criminal named William O’Neal (Stanfield) into infiltrating the organization and Hampton’s inner circle.
While the FBI labeled the party as terrorists and portrays them that way to O’Neal in the trailer, Black people knew that the Black Panther Party was a positive force in the community, organizing free breakfast programs and children’s events. In the sneak peek, when O’Neal witnesses the party’s generosity that inspires him to try to convince the authorities that they are mistaken. The information on the free legal services, medical clinics and research into sickle cell anemia O’Neal obtained did nothing to convince the FBI to dismantle their attempts to put a stop to the party.
The trailer features a battered O’Neal being held captive by authorities and being forced to decide between his own fate and that of his people as blood gushes from his forehead.
In an effort to avoid six and a half years of jail time, O’Neal allowed confidences to be betrayed and lives to be lost. He also fractured the efforts of the Party to form a rainbow coalition of oppressed people. As he continues to spy, he has to grapple with not only his guilt, but the fear that one of his comrades will discover his disloyalty.
Judas and the Black Messiah is the full-length directorial debut of Shaka King. He previously completed several shorts, including LaZercism and Mulignans. King also helmed episodes of critically-acclaimed shows such as High Maintenance and People of Earth.
The screenplay was written by Will Berson and Keith Lucas. The film is being produced by Black Panther and Creed director Ryan Coogler and Just Mercy and Sorry To Bother You producer Charles D. King.
Judas and the Black Messiah will premiere in 2021.