Review by Carla Renata for UBNRADIO.com, TheCurvyFilmCritic.com and MsInTheBiz.com I don't know about you, but when I hear the word chess, automatically the name Bobby Fischer pops into my head.  It's generally not a game I identify with African-American players.

Although, there have been several players of color.  In 2014, Cuba Gooding, Jr starred in Life of a Kingabout Eugene Brown.  Brown started a chess club for inner city students in Washington D.C. after he had been jailed for 18 years.


Maurice Ashley is a Jamaican American chess grandmaster, author, commentator, app designer, puzzle inventor, and motivational speaker. In 1992, he shared the United States Game/10 chess championship with Maxim Dlugy.  Fédération Internationale des Échecs or World Chess Federation (FIDE) awarded him the grandmaster title in 1999,making him the world's first Jamaican chess International Grandmaster.   Ashley is well-known as a commentator for high-profile chess events, spent many years teaching chess and On April 13, 2016, was inducted officially into the US Hall of Fame along with Chess Grandmaster Gata Kamsky.


Enter Phiona Mutesi, a girl from the streets of Kampala, Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess by soccer coach and former missionary Robert Katende.  As a result, she is encouraged to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion. Queen of Katwe is Phiona's story of discovery, love, sacrifice and developing the heart of a lion king while accomplishing a feat even she thought was impossible.

In 2012, at the age of 16, at her second Olympiad, she became a Woman Candidate Master, the first step towards Grand Master. Earlier this year Phiona graduated from St. Mbuga Vocational Secondary School and is now applying to college and hopes to become a doctor or lawyer.


Played majestically perfect by Madina Nalwanga, “Phiona’s story is like my story,” Nalwanga says. “Her background is like my background, but for her it was chess that changed everything and for me it was dancing and singing.”

It was refreshing to see that Disney made a huge effort to keep this story's authenticity by casting actors from Uganda and South Africa. Both David Oyelowo as Robert Katende and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o seemed destined to be part of the project.

The role of Harriet was written for Nyong’o, whom director Mira Nair has known for years. “I thought of Harriet as a young Mother Courage, and that is the strength and beauty that is in Lupita,” says Nair.   A child of East Africa, an alumnus of Maisha Film Lab and an intern at Nair’s production company Mirabai Films in New York, Nyong’o shot to fame with her Oscar®-winning performance in “12 Years a Slave,” which she followed with roles in “Star Wars: A Force Awakens” and “The Jungle Book.”


“I have a daughter and I want her to watch this film and feel like she can do anything because she is worthy of it, because she applies herself, as we see Phiona do,” says David Oyelowo.   My hope is that some girl in Iowa who wants to be a pilot will watch this film and be inspired to do what she wants to do.”


Queen of Katwe is an inspiring, uplifting film that reminds its audience that anything is possible with a little hard work, support, love, self-confidence and belief in one's self.

Produced by Disney,

Queen of Katwe

opens in limited release on September 23rd and nationwide on September 30th.



Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and TheCurvyFilmCritic.com


Being s self-proclaimed geek, one Christmas, my Mom gave me a handheld computer for Christmas.  It was revolutionary, not bigger than the palm of my hand and this device could literally do everything my desktop could with  a series of apps.

The only reason I eventually bought an iPhone was strictly for work purposes.  I discovered there were apps that I could use that would allow me to never miss another voice-over audition or job.

With the invention of social media and popular apps like Facebook, Twitter, Apple iPhones and a little series on AMC called "Halt and Catch Fire", one forgets that compatibility was virtually impossible before Compaq computers appeared on the scene

"Silicon Cowboys" is a documentary that breaks down the wild-west mentality of the personal computer industry from Compaq to IBM and beyond, but is basically a story of the rise and fall of Compaq Computers.

IBM had an arrogance and confidence that controlled the marketplace making it the 6th largest industrial company in the United States.  IBM was literally selling a computer unit a minute..

Meanwhile, Compaq developed its first portable computer that weighed only 27-28 pounds and was the first computer to be compatible with the IBM PC..  Compaq answered the need of those people who wanted to finish their  work over the weekend at home and their portable computer was perfect.  However, Compaq only sold 53,000 compared to 750,000 PC's that were being sold at IBM.

Right on its heels as Steve Jobs and Apple in 1984, who to this day reigns supreme over smart phone and laptop technology.

Silicon Cowboys is fascinating in the respect that it show that "nerds" can go in hard for what they believe in and want to fight for.  Like any other business driven industry  computer geeks would pull out all the stops with Celebrity endorsements, smaller and better version of their product  and like a true fight to the finish the best product would be left standing in tact.

Ultimately, that did not end up being Compaq, who would eventually merge  with another technological giant Hewlett-Packard.

If you love technology and am as fascinated as I am about its origins, you will love Silicon Cowboys..

Released on September 16th nationwide in 12 markets and nationally of all digital platforms and directed by Academy Award nominated Jason Cohen Silicon Cowboys serves as  refreshing alternative to the familiar narratives of Jobs, Gates and Zuckerberg.  It also features interviews with Compaq founders Rod Canion, Jim Harris, Bull Murto, Alec Berg,- Executive Producer of HBO's "Silicon Valley" and co- creator of AMC's :Halt and Catch Fire"  Chirs Cantwell.




Spy. Genius. Hacker. Traitor are just a few of the names associated with former NSA computer specialist Edward Snowden.

At 29 years old, Snowden released NSA and FISA files stolen from their database and caused a global panic.  The judgements against him were harsh at best and even worse for his girlfriend Lindsay Mills.

So unless you have been under a rock, let me break this down for you.  Edward Snowden was a young soldier when a debilitating leg injury forced him into a medical discharge.  Enter the CIA.  Snowden was sought out, trained and eventually placed in Quantico  as a recruit.  Ultimately, not being pleased with the method in which our government was violating rights spelled out in our Constitution to  justify "spying" via  cell phones, computers and virtually anything containing a digital footprint, he blew the whistle setting off one of the biggest scandals in US history regarding a simple thing called privacy.

According to Snowden, who was streamed in live from Moscow a few nights ago, "Privacy is about something to protect...Privacy is the right of self...Privacy is the fountainhead of ALL other rights.  Without privacy you don't have anything for yourself.  Saying you don't care about privacy is like saying you don't care about freedom of speech."

Directed by Oliver Stone, who seems to be attracted to political, historical and controversial subject matter, Snowden is approached from a humanistic point of view.  Often times in these types of situations, we forget that at the end of the day, the accused, the ridiculed and outcast are still human beings with relationships.  It is the adversity of these relationships, as well as, the cost of holding secrets that Stone spells out for the audience through the brilliant performances of Joseph Gordon Levitt and Shailene Woodley.

Levitt really put it all on the line for this one...literally.  He traveled to Moscow to visit and study Ed Snowden and it paid off.  Under the radar and often overlooked, this former television child actor is giving  a performance that is so nuanced that you forget he's acting and believe you are watching the real deal.  As I said many times when speaking about performances, it is the dialogue not spoken that is intriguing and interesting to watch.  Joseph Gordon Levitt is mesmerizing, believable and dead-on.  I thought he was great in "The Walk", but that performance pales in comparison to Snowden.

Seen as the star of "Divergent" film franchise, Shailene Woodley is really pulling it all the way down for Lindsay. Her subtle and passion filled performance is marvelous to behold.  She embraces Lindsay with every fiber of her being  making her empathetic, sympathetic and a free-spirited woman whose strength is beyond measure when it comes to loving and being loved.

The real Ed Snowden even dropped this little kernel about an app called Signal, which uses an advanced end to end encryption protocol that provides privacy for EVERY message EVERY time.  It uses your existing phone number and address book.  There are no separate logins, usernames, passwords or PIN's to manage or lose.

Yes, Ed Snowden broke the law.  Yes, he is a fugitive. Yes, he is ridiculously brilliant and Yes, he believes that one's privacy is a right not a privilege.

My jaw dropped open more times than I care to remember during the course of this film.  Mostly due to major education received by the Ed Snowden portrayed onscreen and the real Snowden streaming live.

Trust me, this one is well worth the price...Snowden opens nationwide TODAY!




  Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com, MsInTheBiz.com and TheCurvyFilmCritic.com

"There's trouble right here in River City"...has never been truer than in the case of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Anna Vasquez and Kristie Mayhugh

Directed by Deborah S. Esquenazi, "Southwest of Salem" explores the case of what would become known as the San Antonio Four.  In 1994, four women were accused, tried and convicted of assaulting two young girls (nieces of Ramirez).  Twenty years later these Latina women maintain their innocence, citing that the accusations against them were fabricated and perpetrated from the homophobic prejudice surrounding lesbians and that lifestyle leading to covens, cults and child abuse.

San Antonio Four Mugshots

It is heartbreaking to watch these women railroaded, much like the subject of the Netflix series "The Making of a Murderer".  It tore several families apart and ruining some relationships beyond repair.

When I spoke to the women at the Tribeca Film Festival, I offered congrats on their release, Those dolls were real quick to remind me that, their ordeal is not over yet.  In fact they could still go back to prison..  Let's hope not, so that these beautiful women and get on with the bit of life they have left to enjoy.

Carla and San Antonio Four

As much as it pains me to say this, the most interesting aspect of this story is the fact that when celebrities are "allegedly" accused of such heinous and disturbing acts, their wealth and fame often times assist them in alluding any jail time and/or the charges more often than not are overturned.

These four women were railroaded in court not only for their ethnicity, but in part their sexual orientation.  The prejudice and ignorance that is prevalent in the current American Diaspora gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "innocent until proven guilty".

Deborah S. Esquenazi does an excellent job of presenting a very strong argument as to why the women are innocent.  After meeting and chatting with them all, I can tell you that there is nothing more heartbreaking than watching women walking on the tightrope of life without a net.  Watching them live each day in fear of having freedom snatched, having the courts take their time setting a new trial date and not being able to move forward and enjoy life for yourself.

If you hate prejudice against women, LGBT community and injustice in general, here are some steps  you can take now to assist the San Antonio Four...

  1.  Call 210-335-2311.  Ask for District Attorney Nico LaHood's Office.  Here's what to say:  "I am angered by Judge Pat Priest's ruling to not recommend exoneration for Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Anna Vasquez and Kristie Mayhugh.  I want Nico LaHood and the District Attorney's office of Bexar County to take a stand on the San Antonio Four case to declare actual innocence and have the women exonerated for their wrongful convictions."
  2. Tweet:  @BexarCounty @Nico4DA Take a stand about the @SanAntonioFour injustice! Recommend exoneration #FreetheSA4 @IPofTexas #southwest of Salem
  3. Post on Facebook:  I am angered by Judge Pat Priest's ruling to not recommend exoneration for Elizabeth Ramirez, CAssandr Rivera, Anna Vasquez and Kristie Mayhugh.  I want Nico LaHood and the ;district Attorney's office of @BexarCounty to take a stand on the San Antonio Four case to declare actual innocence have the women exonerated for their wrongful convictions. #FreetheSA4 #SouthwestOfSalem



Here are some excerpts of our interview together...

Southwest Interview 2016

[audio mp3="https://carlarenatascorner.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/southwest-of-salem.mp3"][/audio]


Review by Carla Renata for UBNRADIO.COM and The Curvy Film Critic

The obsession over sneakers in a documentary Sneakheadz and getting the latest "kicks by any means necessary is real.  Many kids have been killed, beat up even harassed over the type of sneakers they are wearing.

With a debut earlier this year at the Tribeca and LA Film Festivals, KICKS takes it to a whole new level, by putting this controversial subject to a narrative centered around three urban teens.  When one of them is jacked for his Jordans, he and his friends find themselves on a journey to recover the shoes, but not without consequences and repercussions.

Fifteen-year-old Brandon longs for a pair of the freshest sneakers that money can buy and assumes that having them on his feet will help him escape the reality of being poor, neglected by the opposite sex and picked on by everyone -- even his best friends. 

Working hard to get them, he soon finds that these shoes have made him a target after they are snatched by local hood, Flaco.  Flaco has his own issues  that will are revealed when Brandon goes on a mission to retrieve his stolen sneakers with his two best friends in tow.

Produced by the same team that brought us Morris from America, boasting an amazing soundtrack of both hip-hop classics and Bay Area favorites, Kicks creates an authentic and original portrait of a young man drowning in the expectations of being grown and standing his ground for what he believes.

With an impressive screen debut, Jahking Guillory is perfection as Brandon.  Mahershala Ali is having a great year and his portrayal of Flaco is chilling, yet compassionate as a gang-banger Dad with a heart.

Kicks is  a modern-day Boyz in the Hood Air Jordans as the centerpiece.  I could have done without some of the more graphic scenes, but guess they seemed necessary in order to give this film authenticity around its storyline..

As a first time director/screenwriter, Justin Tipping does an admirable job in creating a magical urban tale about friendship, honor and life in Oakland.

Kicks rolls into a theatre near you on September 9th by Focus films.


The Light Between Oceans

by Carla Renata for The Curvy Film Critic.com and UBNRadio.com

When I learned Academy Award winners Rachel Weisz and Alicia Vikander and 12 Years A Slave/Steve Jobs nominee Michael Fassbender had a film release based on the novel of one of my favorite writers M.L. Stedman, I knew this was a must see.

Stedman’s “The Light Between Oceans” was published in the U.S. in July 2012. Immediately embraced by readers and critics alike, it landed on both The New York Times and USA Today’s bestseller lists, as well as,  Amazon’s Best Book of the Month for August of that year. Since then, it has been translated into over 35 languages.

Having said that, I often thought that the "light" referred to the lighthouse, which is a staple fixture of symbolism in the novel and the film.  However, after seeing the film I realized the  "light" symbolizes love, loss and the secrets that bubble to the surface.

You know that old saying..."What's done in the dark comes to light"?  Well, baby what comes to light in this film affects everyone on-screen and is emotionally wrenching.  It just goes to show you that love is an emotion that sometimes transcend all reason and common sense.  After all, you only have to forgive once.  Resentment takes too much work.

Michael Fassbender as Lighthouse keeper Tom Sherbourne is a tortured soul.  When asked about Tom, the actor commented, “These things happen in life where you have to make a choice that has no simple or right answer. The story’s not about judging who is good and who is bad. It’s really about how we deal with the outcomes of our choices, and to me that is what defines us as human beings."  Fassbender is a chameleon when it comes to inhabiting characters, which is the thing great actors are made of.  His vulnerability is admirable, yet sad and pathetic all at once.  I adore him.


Alicia Vikander as Isabel is beautiful, spirited and determined.  Very much like her character from her Oscar-winning turn in The Danish Girl, complete with tears.  I love her, but Im'ma need her to do a drama without crying through the whole film.

Rachel Weisz was right on the money as Hannah Roennfeldt.  Every emotion she spoke through her actions and not necessarily with words.  Like Vikander, most of her scenes were extremely emotionally heart-wrenching.  Weisz is a class-act and one of her most intense scenes comes in Hannah’s first face-to-face encounter with Isabel after her daughter (Lucy)returns. “It’s two devoted mothers facing off,” describes Weisz, “And it’s highly charged.”

Set in a remote part Western Australia, following the devastation of the Great War, the imagery is absolutely gorgeous and made me want to go find a lighthouse on the beach to live in far away from the noise of today's society.

The Light Between Oceans is a beautiful love story of relationships and what one does when faced with a choice to do the right thing...or not.  Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures for Dreamworks, The Light Between Oceans is released in a theatre near you on September 2nd.



RIP Gene Wilder

by Carla Renata


As a kid, I couldn't wait to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. What's not to like about a factory full of chocolate??!!  What about those Oompa Loompas? What about those iconic roles in the Mel Brooks films, The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, which earned him numerous Oscar nominations.

Wilder_Young Frankenstien
Wilder_Young Frankenstien

For me, it was his performances opposite comic genius Richard Pryor in Stir Crazy, Silver Streak and See No Evil - Hear No Evil and the many films he Co-Starred in with his wife and SNL Superstar - Gilda Radner that solidified my love of his humility driven comic genius.

Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in Silver Streak, 1976.
Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in Silver Streak, 1976.
Pryor and Wilder in Silver Streak
Pryor and Wilder in Silver Streak

Stir Crazy Clip

Born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee, Wilder began studying acting at the age of 12. After graduating  U. of Iowa in 1955, he enrolled in the Old Vic Theater school in Bristol, where he honed his  acting technique and fencing.

Wilder caught his first big break playing a small role in the off-Broadway production of Arnold Wesker's "Roots" and followed quickly with his Broadway debut as the comic valet in "The Complaisant Lover" (both 1961), for which he won the Clement Derwent Award. His other Broadway credits included "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1963, with Kirk Douglas), "The White House" (1964, with Helen Hayes) and "Luv" (1966), but it was a 1963 Broadway production of "Mother Courage and Her Children" that altered the course of his life forever. In its cast was Anne Bancroft, who was dating Mel Brooks at the time, and the relationship established between the two men eventually led to Wilder's becoming part of Brooks' most celebrated actors.

With nominations for The Producers with Zero Mostel and Young Frankenstein, it seems Wilder's film career was unstoppable.. However, it was his collaboration with Richard Pryor that makes him unforgettable in my book.


His first association with Pryor had come on Blazing Saddles, when Richard Pryor (co-screenwriter) lost his bid for the Cleavon Little role. Pryor and Wilder first acted together in the commercially successful Silver Streak  and  Stir Crazy , but their later efforts were mediocre.


Ironically, Hanky Panky, Wilder's first of three films with his late wife Gilda Radner, originally was written to pair him with Pryor again, but Richard Pryor's unavailability necessitated rewriting the part for Gilda.

Gilda and Wilder
Gilda and Wilder


Two years after Gilda's death, Wilder married Karen Boyer.

Mel Brooks spoke on the death of his longtime friend and movie collaborator, who famously worked with Wilder on a long list of films and  took to Twitter to remember the movie legend, who died today from Alzheimer’s disease at age 83.

“Gene Wilder-One of the truly great talents of our time. He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship,”

-Mel Brooks

Wilder and Brooks
Wilder and Brooks

For me, Gene Wilder will always be that unusually handsome, comic genius with the piercing blue eyes and a heart that seemed to be as golden as a ticket from the Willy Wonka Factory.


Southside With You

Unknown Can you imagine being a young, female African-American partner at a law firm whose associate just can't take no for an answer?  Can you imagine that associate turning out to be the leader of the free world?  I'm sure Michelle Robinson didn't either.  Luckily for America, she said yes and we have been fortunate enough to have a front row seat at one of the most romantic love stories in American history between two beautiful, intelligent and culturally stimulated individuals - who just happen to be the President and First Lady.

"Southside With You" chronicles the first date between President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle.  It’s the answer to the age-old question couples often get asked when out in public for the first few dates - How did you meet? What was your first date like?  Who doesn’t relate to love and all the juicy details that go along with it?  I know I do and was totally sucked in by the first moment.

Tika Sumpter in the title role of Michelle Obama is direct, stunning and totally smitten by a young Barack Obama portrayed spot on by Parker Sawyers.  Sawyers effectively captures the sincerity that Americans fell in love with, therefore, electing Barack Obama as the first African-American man to serve as President of the United States.


How did these two virtually unknowns land these roles?  First of all, Tika Sumpter is barely "unknown".  I met her when she was Series Regular on the now defunct ABC-TV Soap "One Life to Live"  in Florida at a "SuperSoap" convention.  Currently, she's wreaking havoc on Tyler Perry's hit nighttime drama "The Have and Have Nots" on OWN.  Tia is one of the film's producers, along with Grammy winner/Producer John Legend.



When the 32-year-old Sawyers, who was born and raised in Indianapolis and now resides in London, sent in his first audition tape, he was doing a pitch-perfect impersonation of the President at 54, rather than at 28.  Luckily for him and for us, casting director, Twinkie Byrd convinced the film’s director, Richard Tanne to watch Sawyers tape again, but turn down the volume and just watch his performance.  Needless to say, the rest is history.

Sundance Q&A with cast & Director Richard Tanne

During a Q&A after the screening, when asked if the Obamas had seen the film, Tanne said "the president and first lady are aware of the film...and a little baffled by its existence.”  Well, I'm not and neither were the hundreds of people in the audience who along with me, gave a hearty round of applause and standing ovation. Two of my favorite moments were Michelle and Barack walking through a museum featuring the artwork of Ernie Barnes.  Barnes' art was featured prominently on the CBS hit sitcom "Good Times".

The soundtrack featuring a mix of hits from 1989 ranging from rap to Stevie Wonder kept my toes tapping while being enthralled by the performances of every actor onscreen and not just the leads.

It came to my attention that the film received mixed reviews during Sundance, which is not a surprise.  The Obamas have received mixed reviews since they crossed the threshold of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  However, what I know for sure is that those who DO see it will love it and walk away with a smile and glow at how beautiful love can be when it happens with "the right one".  It really is a marvelous emotion to experience and my wish is that everyone can find that everlasting type of mutual, love, admiration and respect in a relationship that spans a lifetime.

Thanks Tika for following your gut and your passion in getting this story told....

Southside With You opens in theaters TODAY, August 26th and trust me it is well worth the price of admission.


The Hollars

Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and TheCurvyFilmCritic.com There's always one family member who is the glue of the brood.  Without their presence, the family would fall apart.  For me that person was Mama Cleo.  She always brought the family together during the good, the bad and the ugly.  When she passed, the family would become distant and go on with their separate ways as if she were never here.

Shot in Jackson, MS in 22 days, The Hollars centers on a man returning to his hometown after his Mom is diagnosed with a brain tumor and scheduled for surgery. Originally screened earlier this year at the Sundance and Los Angeles Film Festivals, The Hollars will strike a chord for anyone that has a wacky, dysfunctional entertaining family.  I think that pretty much includes anyone reading this review.

Actor John Krasinski, puts on his director and producer hat and ensembles one of the best cast...ever.  Mostly known for comedy, the cast includes Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendricks and the irrepressible Margo Martingale are flipping the script and displaying their drama chops.  Every last one of them are bringing their A-game!!!


This is one of the best films I've seen in 2016! Although it is little reminiscent of Boyhood in terms of a family theme, it will make you all warm and fuzzy inside and break your heart all at the same time.

Margo Martingale will finally get that Oscar nomination that has eluded her for years.  Largely known for her stellar work on hundreds of television shows, Margo is giving the performance of a lifetime.  Her crafty recipe of comedy dashed with drama makes her role ring true from moment she appears on-screen.


Richard Jenkins is the best crier I have ever seen!  But seriously, Jenkins' arc of being dependent and then having to deal with the possibility of his wife's demise is just speechless.  He literally took my breath away.

John Krasinski is the anchor of the film in more ways than one and his scenes with Martindale are heartwarmingly delicious.  The heavy comedy lifting was left to Charlie Day and Sharlto Copley.  They are simply hi-larious!!!!  And who knew that Grammy winner Josh Groban was such natural on the silver screen?


If you have to see one film this year, The Hollars is definitely your best bet.  I guarantee you will be hearing more about it come awards season.

The Hollars will be in theatres on Friday, August 26th.


Tales of the Grim Sleeper

image Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and The Curvy Film Critic

If you live in the Los Angeles area and especially on the South Side, you know of The Grim Sleeper.  If not, The Grim Sleeper 'aka' Lonnie Franklin was arrested in 2010 and charged with the brutal murder of nearly 200 women.  While remaining behind bars, his trial date had been postponed three times.  The Tales of the Grim Sleeper was one of big documentary hits at the 2015 Pan African Film Festival.

However, a few days ago Lonnie Franklin was sentenced to death after a trial that lasted for months.  A death sentence for a man who clearly had no regard for human life.

Initially, based on DNA evidence, the police believed Franklin's son Christopher was guilty.  Only  after finding DNA on a cup obtained in the trash at a pizza joint, was it determined the DNA in fact matched Lonnie Franklin - not his son.

When asked how Christopher feel about his Dad being a murderer, he replied "I lost my best friend...I'm still his son".  On whether or not he thought his Dad would be convicted, "...He has a lot of fans in law enforcement and freaks in the street that think what he did was cool".

Told from the eyes of Pamela Brooks (former drug addict and acquaintance of Franklin's) we learn that the Lonnie Franklin, the man described by neighbors and friends as a "really nice guy" had a mean streak...especially with women.

Franklin, a former sanitation worker and ex-con was known to troll close to his neighborhood (Western and 81st) for hookers who ranged in age from 14-36.

Apparently, according to several women who know him, Lonnie liked to take naked pictures of women and have sex with them - all with the aide of his "friends" in the neighborhood.  Those same friends tell investigators that they believed Lonnie hated women because of a tumultuous relationship with his first wife (a crackhead).

Directed by Nick Broomfield (a filmmaker from the UK) many things are brought to life through the eyes of various individuals who seemingly knew two very different sides of Lonnie Franklin.

At the Q& A following the film, Margaret Prescod from the Black Coalition Fighting Black Serial Killers informed the audience of a 911 call which had been suppressed as evidence for nearly 20 years and that only 18 of the 90 women murdered were on the books at the time the crimes originally occurred.  Police allegedly believe that many of the victims wound up in a landfill.

Ms. Prescod brought up a good point noting that when Natalie Holloway went missing, it was international news, but women of color AND from South LA are especially ignored and deemed unimportant.  Things that make you go hmmm....

Check out this trailer...


Pete's Dragon

File_000 (18) Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com, The Curvy Film Critic and MsInTheBiz.com

As an avid Disney fan, I was aghast that I didn't remember the 70's version of this Disney Classic starring Grammy Winner, Helen Reddy. Not to mention the fact that I pretty much remember just about every Oscar nominee across categories, but totally missed that the song was nominated.

File_000 (24)


I'm kinda glad though, because it allowed me to watch the reboot with a fresh heart, mind and eyes.  When I tell you, I got so caught up that the "ugly cry" was unavoidable...I do not exaggerate.  My own mother was like, "Are you ok"?  LOL!!!

Disney has created a new classic with Pete's Dragon for all ages.  If you have the heart, curiosity and wonderment of a child residing anywhere in your bones, this film will awake it .

Remember, Pete's Dragon came along way before E.T.,, Gremlins and all those other loveable creatures we have fallen in love with over the years. Yet, I fell for Elliott just as hard.  He kinda reminded me of my faithful Maltese Mr. Spanky..  Only difference is Elliott is green, flies and breathes fire.  I'm pretty sure Spanky and Elliott would be besties.

So, I ask you...if your buddy, your partner in crime, your loyal furry friend was in trouble wouldn't you move heaven and earth to save him?  Pete and his new-found friends go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that Elliott is safe and unharmed.  Human beings predictably always attempt to destroy or discredit those entities which we don't understand or fear. and fear is a very powerful emotion that can persuade one to act up and show out.

Even though the 1977 version was basically a film musical, this reboots focuses strictly on the story of a young child who has found a friend in a forest where he has been living an adventure for six years, until a forest ranger and her fiance' invite him to become a family member

Oakes Fegley (Pete) as the orphaned Pete is just yummy!  His instincts are spot on and you believe him every moment he is on-screen.  His acting ability is to be rivaled by any adult and is eerily  reminiscent of a young River Phoenix.  Paired up with the perfect Oona Laurence as Natalie, these two are unstoppable.

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Bryce Dallas Howard for me can just do no wrong and having her own children gave her the right mindset to pull off inhabiting Grace.  The vulnerability displayed will break your heart.. She has somehow been handed down that gene that made America fall in love with her Dad, Ron Howard as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show.

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Robert Redford is one of my all time favorite actors and hadn't been on-screen for a while until this year with A Walk In The Woods and now as Meacham.  To witness Redford become a child before your eyes as he speaks of the fondness in which he meets the "dragon" is really something special.  It takes an exceptional actor to recall that emotion and make the audience take that journey with you.  Well done, Sir!

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You know there is always that one character that throws a wrench into the Hallmark Family moment and Karl Urban is the perfect guy to do it.  As Gavin, he is despicably delicious, comical and handsome all at the same time.  I know...right??!!  He's easily the chameleon of the crew.

Director, David Lowery performs triple duty, as he is also credited as the editor and screenwriter.  As his first foray into the world of Disney he is crushing it.  I think he needs to direct ALL DISNEY movies from now to eternity!

I loved this film!  Mostly because it reminded of a time when life was not complicated by the hard knocks of adulthood.  As a little girl, my biggest issue was what I wearing to school and what boy I had a crush on. Those memories and feelings are irreplaceable, but I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.

Pete's Dragon  will take you back to time where life was simple, joyous and uncomplicated.  Take the fam, the hubby and have a beautiful family night you all will not soon forget.  Pete's Dragon opened nationwide August 12th.

Take the time to download the coloring sheets and activities, Disney has graciously provided for the kids to enjoy.  Trust me...I played them and had a ball!!!





Pete's Dragon Activity Booklet


Abortion: Stories Women Tell

File_001 (5) Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and The CurvyFilm Critic.com

As the child of a military family, we traveled for most of my life.  However, in between moves, we always went back "home".  Home for me is St, Louis, Missouri.  Both of my parents were born and raised there.  My relatives on my maternal and paternal side still live there.  I went to the prom, fell in love for the first time, had my first date, learned to drive, got my first job, became a beauty queen and attended my first college...all in the state of Missouri.

My memories are vast and fond of my life there.  However, as magical and warm the memories are that I have growing up in Missouri, I also remember Missouri for being one of the most racist states in the union.  Some residents of the state can be so full of judgement that some of my friends growing up there who were gay knew that "outing" themselves was never an option.  To do so would result in isolation from friends and family and being labeled and attacked,  Being a young, gifted and black was not celebrated.  To the point, that in 2016,  we are still witnessing young men like Michael Brown being harassed, shot and murdered.

Patient sitting on hospital bed waiting

Needless to say, when I learned of the documentary Abortion:  Stories Women Tell screening at the Tribeca Film festival around Missouri becoming one of the many states to make abortion illegal, I was not surprised.  I was, however, extremely annoyed.

In 1973 the US Supreme court decision Roe Vs. Wade gave every woman the right to have an abortion. Since 2011, over half the states in the nation have significantly restricted access to abortions. In 2016, abortion remains one of the most divisive issues in America, especially in Missouri, where each year sees more restrictions.

Award winning director and Missouri native Tracy Droz Tragos sheds new light on this controversial  issue, with a focus not on the debate, but rather on the women themselves. Women who are struggling with unplanned pregnancies, the providers who show up at clinics to give medical care, as well as the activists on the sidewalks hoping to save one more child.

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Abortion: Stories Women Tell portrays an intimate portrait into the lives of these women through their personal stories, which come to life brilliantly, through the gentle and respectful approach by director Tragos.   Some are heartbreaking and tender, some are bleak and frightening, while others simply inform us of the strength and capacity of young women to overcome and persevere through often-tragic circumstances.  Take a listen to a recent interview I did with Tracy about her doc...

[audio mp3="https://carlarenatascorner.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/tracydrozetragos_abortionstories.mp3"][/audio]

Abortion:  Stories Women Tell also shows us how organizations like Planned Parenthood are being targeted for abortion procedures and allegedly accused  of selling fecal organs for medical testing.  My newly divorced mother (who is also a Registered Nurse) took me to Planned Parenthood as a teen to be educated on birth control and the services provided to young girls like me.  That Planned Parenthood location on Lindell Avenue in St. Louis has been shut down and the nearest location  is two hours away in Columbia, Missouri.

With young girls being sexually active as early as 10 years old, where will those mothers who don't take their daughters to be educated?  Especially now, that sex education has been slowly forced out of the public school system.

I employ each and every one of you reading this to think of all these concerns and facts as your state contemplates making a decision that affects thousands if not millions of American women.

Watch for this powerful doc to show up on HBO, but if you can't wait until then it had its theatrical release August 12th..  You will angered, educated,  but most of all moved to make a difference.



  Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner.com

Death is always uncomfortable.  Those left are always second guessing what their loved one would've thought or how they would want their wishes to be carried out.  Often times, when there is a child who has been coddled and protected by the deceased parent,  it forces them to grow up rapidly in ways they don't necessarily want or expect.

Direct from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, writer/director Ira Sachs examines the friendship of two teenaged boys and how the social/economic gaps between their families threatens to overwhelm  and undermine that relationship.

In the wake of Jake's Grandfather passing, he and his family move from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Sensitive and shy Jake (Thos Taplitz) quickly becomes besties with Tony (Michael Barbieri), who is a little more gregarious by nature and is fiercely protective of his new best friend.

While the boys are bonding, the adults are fighting! over real estate.  Apparently, Jake's grandfather didn't handle all of his business, leaving the lease for a dress shop he owned up for grabs.  When Leonor (Paulina Garcia) decides that it is her right to stay at the shop without raising the rent, an immature, unflattering behavior casts a cloud over both the tragic and comedic contrasts to the world that Tony and Jake share.

Michael Barbieri (Tony) and Theo Taplitz (Jake) carry this film, much in the way Tatum O'Neal carried Paper Moon and Abigail Breslin carried Little Miss Sunshine.  Their scenes together are entertaining to say the least, but it's moment they are alone with other actors where they really have an opportunity to shine.


The highlight of the whole scene is where Tony is in a Meisner  acting class doing a repetition exercise with his instructor that literally garnered applause from the audience at the screening I attended.


Paulina Garcia as Leonor is deliciously despicable.  Your heart breaks for her.  You realize not only did she lose someone she loved, but now is losing the security of a home, job and business due to no fault of her own.  As a Chilean mother, she is struggling to give her son the best life possible and feels like she is failing.


Greg Kinnear as Brian is subtle, yet extremely effective as the small time actor juggling the pressure of marriage and kids in the midst of coping with family loss.

Having been a military brat, I am all too familiar with making great friends, moving away and losing touch as the years go by.  You try desperately to hold on to the good times, but life goes on. The only solace you have is that somehow those friends changed the kaleidoscope of you childhood and made you a little richer for having met them.

Ironically, Ira Sachs shared at a recent Q&A that Little Men picks up where Love So Strange leaves off.  Love So Strange ends with a kid on a skateboard and Little Men begins with a kid on a skateboard.  Sachs thought it would be interesting to see what happens to that kid.  Guess What Ira?  Not only was it interesting, but I loved it!!!



File_000 (1) Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner.com

Have you ever done what you knew in your heart was wrong for all the right reasons?  So has Tallulah.  A homeless girl who has not been dealt a full deck within the card game of life, Tallulah finds herself in a situation where she makes a decision that ultimately affects not only her...but many others.

Tallulah and her boyfriend Nico (Evan Jonigkeit) are wandering through life trying to figure out what their next move will be.  Will they go to abroad or stay in New York?  One never knows, but Nico decides that he is done with Tallulah and leaves.  While trolling through floors at a hotel/apartment building, she stumbles upon a woman who is clearly troubled and with a toddler. This chance meeting will turn out to change Tallulah in ways she didn't even see coming.

Having debuted at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, this Chris Columbus produced dramedy is one of the best films I have seen yet this year.  Kudos to Bernie Telsey and his casting associates for gathering such a stellar cast.

Although Ellen Page (Tallulah) and Allison Janney  (Margo) are turning in some outstanding performances, this film belongs the insatiably, sadistic Tammy Blanchard (Carolyn).  Since bursting on the scene as a 2011 Tony Nominee for the second revival of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, Blanchard, those who have watched her star ascend knew it would be only a matter of time before all of her true talent would be showcased.  Her performance in Tallulah is only to be rivaled by that of Oscar winner Cate Blanchett in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine.

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Ellen Page is a task master at portraying young woman with no real moral compass.  She's brilliant at it actually!  Her presence brings the much-needed comic element to Tallulah and she never disappoints.  Ellen Page is the only actress I can think of that makes you want to slap her and hug her all at the same time.  This is certainly the gift of skills she bring s to the role of Tallulah.

Allison Janney is better and better with each film she appears in.  As an awkward, socially inept woman on the verge of divorcing her gay husband. Janney conveys all the colors and layers necessary to pull off the character of Margo.  Her attempt to seduce the doorman is hysterical and incredibly sad all at once, as well as, her anger burst toward her future ex-husband are outstanding moments.

It was nice to see David Zayas and Uzo Aduba, as well as, John Benjamin Hickey and Zachary Quinto on-screen in one film.  Each of them spectacular in their respective roles.

Director/Writer Sian Heder has honed his skills in the world of dramedy on such hits as Orange Is The New Black and Men of a Certain Age, but it's safe to say that Tallulah will be the breakout film garnering major attention for him and Blanchard this awards season.

Tallulah debuted on Netflix July 29th and is available for streaming now.






Baby, the Ghostbusters are back with girl power for days.  Whoever thinks girls aren't funny, I'm here to tell you that you are wrong as two left shoes!!! If Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy are bringing the funny, proton packs, special gadgets and lighting up the Manhattan sky for the reboot of the 1984 megabit Ghostbusters.


Two childhood science geeks/authors/former besties reunite over paranormal sightings in New York City.  Sounds familiar right?  Of course, this time its in 3D, the green screen special effects are ramped up a notch and when those ghosts are unleashed it's an experience one is not likely to soon forget.

Abby (Melissa McCarthy) and her business partner Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) team up with Erin (Kristen Wiig) and former MTA token booth clerk Patty (Leslie Jones) to become 'ghostbusters'.

They take on a male receptionist - Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), who is wonderful to look at, but dumb as a box of rocks...lol.  However, when Kevin's body is inhabited by building janitor Rourke (Matt Walsh), things really get a little slow.  Only for a few moments and then the girls are off and running ready to save New York from impending ghostly doom.


There are some classy and creative star cameos from Andy Garcia as the Mayor to all the Original Ghostbusters cast (Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson).  Of course, those missing are the late Harold Ramis and Rick Moranis (who has retired from acting).

Having collaborated with McCarthy for the fourth time, director Paul Feig really did his best along with producer and Original Ghostbuster creatives Dan Aykroyd and Ivan Reitman to keep the integrity of the first version in tact.  As an enormous Ghostbuster fan, I really appreciated that.  Even the theme song by Ray Parker, Jr., was  fused with a brand new version from Fall Out Boy featuring Grammy winning artists Missy Elliott called "I'm Not Afraid".

I got a little tickled when after posting a few pix last week this young man sent me his version of the Ghosbusters theme with his little toddler pretending to "haunt" Daddy!

Leslie Jones is "laugh out loud" funny and a real smart cookie as Patty.  Her knowledgable history of NYC, it's buildings and subway tunnels make her a force to be reckoned with.  It's so incredibly refreshing to see a black woman in an onscreen comedy who is not just there for the jokes, but to enhance the plot alongside with her co-stars.



Kate McKinnon as Holtzman is a strange as hell, but in a nerdy, freaky, fun sort of way that just leaves you shaking your head with a smile on your face.

Kristen Wiig is the "straight man" of the quartet and relentless in her sexual harassment of Kevin.  Pure Comedy for sure!!!

Of course, anyone who has EVER read my blog in the past knows that I adore Melissa McCarthy!!!!  She is a "comedy goddess" and can do no wrong in my book and along with her cohorts!  Kudos to Amy Pascal for bringing some girl power to the producing team and I am totally looking forward to the sequel. "I ain't 'fraid of no ghost!!!"

Ghostbusters opens nationwide TODAY - July 15th in a theatre near you!  Don't miss it!!!

FYI...Had the opportunity to attend a special press conference for bloggers and here is an excerpt...

Los Angeles, Ca-- July 8,2016: Bloggers attend a Press Conference at the Press Junket for Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Carla Renata:  Hey Y'all How you doing!

Leslie Jones:  Hey!

Los Angeles, Ca-- July 8,2016: Bloggers attend a Press Conference at the Press Junket for Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Carla Renata:  Hey Girl...it's Carla Renata from CarlaRenatasCorner.com soon to be CurvyCritic.com (massive laughter). But, anywhoo...we were talking a little bit about empowerment.  Being a curvy girl myself I understand challenges that people may have getting dressed for a red carpet or a special event...so I just want you to speak to that if you don't mind.

Leslie Jones:  I've been six feet tall since the 6th grade and had a size 10 foot in 7th Grade.  It was always hard for me to find clothes.  So, for the industry not to make clothes for me, that average woman who actually goes into the store and buys...it kind of pisses me off a little bit.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being curvy.  I'm a size 10 and I use to be a size 14. (based on her look we burst into laugher).  I mean I need y'all to know a b*&%h been working out.  ( more laughter)  It takes a real designer to design for real women who buys your clothes. I know that there's the Kardashians and all that, but there's on ly a small percentage of them.  The big percentage is us the real people.

We have to say something.  You have to speak up.  You have to!  You're spending the money.  You have to say something.  I mean...I don't know... maybe I should shut up (uproarious laughter)

Melissa McCarthy:  It's a very strange thing.  I've always been bewildered.  I think 72% of the American population is I think a size 14 and above.  (To Leslie)  You don't fall in that.  Most stores do not offer it or if it is it's up by the tires.

Leslie Jones:  Um...hmm

Melissa McCarthy:  I'm always bewildered.  What other business goes Oh it's the majority....ok I'm for sure gonna keep you out.  Mean I started a clothing line because I couldn't shop.  I couldn't get stuff.  I had to have stuff made and I thought this is madness.

Carla Renata:  What's the name of your clothing line

Melissa McCarthy:  It's under my name...Melissa McCarthy.  It's  a crazy thing and I think the more you speak out and say like it's NOT the exception.  They're expecting everyone to be the exception.  It's like...NO!  We come in every shape, size, color, height and everything and they should serve that.

Los Angeles, Ca-- July 8,2016: Bloggers attend a Press Conference at the Press Junket for Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Leslie Jones:  I believe that the craziest, wrongest...(chuckling) wrongest.  The most wrong statement that can be made is that's just how it is.  That's just gonna kill us.  There's no such thing as that...stop saying that.  The worst thing that can happen is they say no.

Carla Renata:  Well, alright then (laughter)

Los Angeles, Ca-- July 8,2016: Bloggers attend a Press Conference at the Press Junket for Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Happy 100th Birthday Olivia de Havilland

by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner Gone With The Wind is one of my Mommy's favorite movies and has become a classic one of mine as well.  For the woman who played the role of faithful wife to Ashley Wilkes - Olivia De Havilland is the film's only surviving actor.  Today she turned 100 years young!


Born in Tokyo on July 1, 1916, to British parents, de Havilland and her younger sister Joan Fontaine grew up in California and both became Academy Award-winning lead actresses (the only pair of siblings to do so). Reportedly, Fontaine had originally been approached for the role of Melanie in "GWTW," but wanted to play Scarlett O'Hara.  She suggested her sister for the part instead.


De Havilland, who appeared in "GWTW" when she was in her early 20s, ultimately went on to star in dozens of movies and TV shows, winning two Oscars (for 1947's "To Each His Own" and 1950's "The Heiress") before stepping away from the spotlight in 1988.

One of my all time favorite films starring de Havilland was a Hitchcock thriller called Suspicion.  If you haven't seen her body of work, take a break from the barbecue and fireworks to check her out.  Like the iconic films in which she starred...Olivia de Havilland is a class act.


Summer of Sequels

by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner.com This summer's box office seems to be relying heavily on a "Summer of Sequels" ranging from Finding Dory to Conjuring 2.  Do some of these films require a second look or are studios just cashing in on the success of days gone by?

I don't know about you, but I could care less what the reason is.  I just want to grab my popcorn and snacks and get my movie groove on...lol.  Take a look at the sequels taking over the screens for the summer of 2016.


This flick about the "little fish that could" is shattering box office records, kicking tail and taking names (did you like that one...lol).  Finding Dory has already grossed 400 million dollars making it the fastest and highest grossing animated feature of all time!  Thanks Ellen!



I loved the original Independence Day!  It made a bonafide box office summer star out of Will Smith and was just an overall great film.  This sequel does not have Will Smith and word on the street is that it's just ok.  I guess in some cases, some things are better left alone.  Hope they can at least make their money back and break even.  Don't hate on a sister'...I'm just the messenger...



So, I am all about my action adventure flicks, but what is the need to kill off superheroes this year?  First Superman meets an untimely demise in Batman vs Superman, now this!  Having said that, I heard this one is actually pretty good, but is already on it's way to a Blu-Ray DVD release in September.



Having been a publicist in a past life, I have a theory.  Whenever you see a major publicity blitz on a film pre-opening and then the film opens and it's crickets...chances are the film doesn't stand up to tall the hype.  Sad to say that was the case with the X-Men franchise this year.  No Halle, No Wolverine leaves you with things that make you go hmmm...



The prequel to this did extraordinarily well at the box office.  Although word on the street is that the sequel isn't really that bad, Johnny Depp's personal life eclipsed the film and it's potential at the box office.




According to Variety, “Now You See Me 2 is the kind of sequel that has all but gone out of fashion: a follow-up to a blockbuster so flaky and off-center that even those who made the original probably never expected it to spawn a second chapter."  Boom...enough said



I'm sure you are starting to see a pattern by now, so I won't bother highlighting the other sequels that include Conjuring @, The Purge 3, Neighbors 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Out of the Shadows.  At the end of the day, if you are a fan of the franchise, it won't matter what the word on the street is.  Which is exactly why I am all over the new Star Trek and Star Wars films due to hit theaters this year.  Having the force be with a trekkie is a beautiful thing.


With Hillary Clinton being the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2016 bid for the most powerful office in the land, we would be remiss if we didn't remember all of the women before her who have run...Geraldine Ferraro, Sarah Palin, Shirley Chisholm, Jill Stein, Carol Moseley-Braun, Cynthia McKinney and Gracie Allen...just to name a few. However, none of them brought as much controversy and skepticism as when Roseanne Barr.

Roseanne is known for a lot of things.  Butchering the National Anthem, being unapologetically opinionated and for producing the first sitcom to show a lesbian kiss on national television.

So, when she announced her candidacy in 2012 for the highest office in the land...The Presidency of the United States, most people chalked it up to a publicity stunt.  After all, her popularity had waned considerable after The Roseanne Show.   Between that, her split from ex-husband Tom Arnold and numerous other shenanigans...could she really be serious.? Yes, indeed she was.

While Obama and Romney were squaring off, Roseanne was encouraged by U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney and film activist Michael Moore to make her voice be heard as the leader of the Green Party.  With both barrels blazing, she hired campaign manager Farheen Hakeem and began strategizing to win the nomination from from-runner Jill Stein.

Apart from her political aspirations and views (which she jokes ended her career), I learned some things about Roseanne I never knew.  Never knew she had been institutionalized for mental health reasons in Provo, Utah or that she hailed from Salt Lake.  Nor did I know her family owned an apartment building full of Jewish refugees or that a brain injury she incurred as a child put her in a coma for five days.  When she had awaken...she awoke to being a completely different person..which probably explains a lot about the Roseanne we have come to know in the media.

Roseanne exudes a vulnerable, sweet side showing her sensitivity to the world around her just like the rest of us.  It's never more noticeable than when she watches her loss to Jill Stein for the Green Party nom  149 - 36.  But, of course, we are treated to the Roseanne we have come to love when we watch her puffing on a blunt while passing a cop car...lol

Running for any political office is daunting, but when you are a personality as controversial as Roseanne - it takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there despite the consequences or results.

If you haven't seen this documentary...take a look, learn, be educated and surprised.  Roseanne For President made its debut at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and will be released on July 1st in Los Angeles (Sundance Sunset Cinema), New York (IFC Center) and available on VOD/Digital Platforms.





  Report by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner.com

The American Film Institute announced today the AFI DOCS 2016 Audience Award winners, concluding the five-day festival in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, MD.  This year's Audience Award for Best Feature went to MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE, directed by Rita Coburn Whack and Bob Hercules (U.S.).  This year's Audience Award for Best Short went to SNAILS, directed by Grzegorz Szczepaniak (Poland).  With 93 films from 30 countries, the festival brought together filmmakers, industry, national policy and opinion leaders.



The 2016 festival provided unique opportunities for audiences, filmmakers and policymakers to meet in our nation's capital as news unfolded.  U.S. Representatives Jim Himes and Nita Lowey addressed the NEWTOWN Spotlight Screening audience at the Newseum just hours after Democrats concluded their sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives.  AFI DOCS filmmakers convened with policymakers at the White House, while AFI DOCS Impact Lab-participating filmmakers met with U.S. Representatives Ted Lieu, Jim McGovern and David Price.


As part of AFI DOCS 2016, the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands and the U.S. State Department conducted a gathering and roundtable of international filmmakers from Pakistan.  The meeting focused on how international filmmakers can make the leap into the established western film community, along with private conversations on how to handle issues such as funding, distribution and censorship.  This is the third year AFI DOCS and the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands have partnered to organize programs to advance the art and impact of documentary film.


This year's AFI DOCS attendees included renowned filmmakers Judd Apatow, Ramin Bahrani, Heidi Ewing, Alex Gibney, Rachel Grady, Werner Herzog (this year's AFI DOCS Charles Guggenheim Symposium honoree) and Barbara Kopple, along with acclaimed singer Sharon Jones and television icon Norman Lear.  Global, national and local leaders in attendance included U.S. Representatives Jim Himes and Nita Lowey and German Ambassador Peter Wittig.


Joining the opinion leaders were distinguished journalists:  PBS NewsHour's Chief Arts Correspondent Jeffrey Brown and Political Director Lisa Desjardins; The Undefeated's Editor-in-Chief Kevin Merida and Culture Writer Soraya Nadia McDonald; and The Washington Post's Chief Film Critic Ann Hornaday, Editor Josh Freedom du Lac and Opinion Writer Alyssa Rosenberg.





Co-directors Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack present a lovingly crafted and comprehensive portrait of the esteemed Dr. Maya Angelou.  The story is told by Angelou herself, along with a cast of contemporaries from her careers as actress, writer, poet and activist.  In chronicling Angelou's life from her youth in the Depression-era South through her rise to international prominence, the film is a vital document about the importance of grace, dignity and the quest for peace.

Maya Angelou Doc Trailer





Best friends with a shared goal of becoming millionaires believe they've found the answer to their dreams in an unlikely profession: snail farming.

Three of my favorite docs from Sundance and Tribeca were featured at AFI Docs as well...take a look at what I had to say about Life Animated, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, Abortion:  Stories Women Tell and look their trailer...






Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com, On Air With Tony Sweet and Carla Renata's Corner Phenom-Movie-1

Can you imagine being barely out of elementary school and being declared a phenomenal baseball player breaking all sorts of records and myths?  Neither did Hooper Gibson (Johnny Simmons), which is one of the reasons his short-lived good luck was on the skids along with his self-esteem, his relationship with his Dad and his relationship with himself.

Initially, I was interested in tis film because I love baseball and thought I would be seen something in the lane of MoneyBall or Field of Dreams.  What I witnessed was a film is that felt more like an August Wilson play with white people than it did a feature film.  There were mostly two-person scenes with a ton of dialogue executed perfectly by each actor casts.

Ethan Hawke, however, was on a whole other level for this role.  I'm not used to seeing him be a bully, but I kinda liked it.  He is sporting a Marine Corps still buzz cut and his attitude is just as hard-core.  If Boyhood couldn't bring home major mantel candy for Hawke last season, it's a safe bet that this performance can not be ignored.  It's simply marvelous.  No wonder Hopper was having an identity crisis.  Johnny Simmons had the most difficult role to attack with Hopper.  He had to be a bird with a broken wing, but still let you know that the apple really doesn't fall too far from the tree - involuntarily so.

The Phenom is a journey in self-loathing, self-discovery, self-awareness and how our parents can affect our spirit whether we want them to or not.  The Phenom is in theaters NOW!