The Magic and Urban Legend of Air Jordans revisited with Unbanned: The Legend of AJ1

The Magic and Urban Legend of Air Jordans revisited with Unbanned:  The Legend of AJ1

Unbanned: The Legend ofAJ1 goes beyond the shoe's namesake and breaks down the rules that resulted in the most popular sneaker in the world literally being banned by the NBA.  Proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  It's all very reminiscent of the backlash toward former NFL star Colin Kaepernickfor taking a knee to protest inequality toward people of color and the senseless shootings of a multitude of unarmed black men and women.

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The Gospel According to Andre Gives Fly on Wall Insight to a Fashion Icon

The Gospel According to Andre Gives Fly on Wall Insight to a Fashion Icon

The Gospel According to Andre will serve as the best dish of caviar money can buy to those obsessed with fashion.  I, for one, was honored and gleefully proud that Andre Leon Talley opened a door to fashion that will forever be changed by his existence.

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Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind

Robin Williams:  Come Inside My Mind

A few years ago, I attended a live-taping of "The Odd Couple" in which the creator Gary Marshall loved to interact with the audience during taping breaks.  He shared tale after tale of all the now famous people he discovered from Julia Roberts to Henry Winkler to Robin Williams.  Williams had just passed a few weeks before and Marshall gleefully spoke of how Williams' character of Mork was born on "Happy Days" because his son wanted to see a martian on the show.   Mork from Ork was only the beginning for the shooting comet we knew as Robin Williams.

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Sammy Davis, Jr. : I Gotta Be Me is the Ultimate Tribute to the Ultimate Entertainer

Sammy Davis, Jr. :  I Gotta Be Me is the Ultimate Tribute to the Ultimate Entertainer

Sammy Davis, Jr. was the ultimate entertainer.  He could sing.  He could dance.  He could do a killer celebrity impersonation.  He could act.  He was a member of the Rat Pack.  And...he bridged the racial gap of entertainment like no other.  There will never be another.

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HIRED GUN: OUT OF THE SHADOWS - INTO THE SPOTLIGHT

HIRED GUN:  OUT OF THE SHADOWS - INTO THE SPOTLIGHT

What is a hired gun?  It's a musician that has the ability to read charts fast, fit in like a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle and be ready to tour at a moment's notice.  Sounds like a great way to earn a living right?  Not all of the musicians  interviewed would agree with you.  As a matter of fact, several members of Billy Joe's band referred to him as 'heartless'.  Most attribute this attitude as an aftermath of his former manager stealing 90 million dollars and vanishing into thin air.  That kind of betrayal would leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth.

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LA FILM FESTIVAL 2017: OUT OF STATE

LA FILM FESTIVAL 2017:  OUT OF STATE

"The first time I walked into the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona I cried.  There, in the middle of a dusty prison recreation yard, were 100 men chanting my entrance into the facility.   Prior to arriving, I had reasonable concerns about filming in prison and had been  advised by mentors to love my subjects but to also be cautious given their histories. Every expectation was immediately thrown out the door when I saw these men chanting in varying

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LA FILM FESTIVAL 2017: SKID ROW MARATHON

LA FILM FESTIVAL 2017:  SKID ROW MARATHON

When one thinks about skid row, the last thing that would come to mind is running through the streets of Los Angeles to prepare for a marathon half way around the world.

The Honorable Judge Craig Matthews spends his entire day sentencing convicted criminals from the Los Angeles Superior Court.  When he invites these skid row felons to join him on Mondays and Thursdays at 5:45am...the results will blow you mind.

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BLOOD ROAD

BLOOD ROAD

Like so many in the U.S., my father was a Marine who served his country in Vietnam.  While he was away, he sent letters and reel-to-reel tapes to me, My Mom and my brother letting us in on his adventures, his fears and his never-ending love for us.  Daddy was one of millions of men that ventured down the Ho-Chi-Minh trail, otherwise known as "blood road" for all the blood shed by both sides during the war.

While watching this documentary, I  couldn't help thinking about the fact that our family was one of the lucky ones.  My Dad returned from the war in one piece, but there are so many that were "missing in action".

One of those missing soldiers was Captain Steve Rusch.  His plane was shot down during the war and his family didn't know if he was a P.O.W (prisoner of war), dead or lost somewhere with a mistaken identity.  It would be 30 years later, that a portion of his remains would be found - two teeth.

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THE FREEDOM TO MARRY

THE FREEDOM TO MARRY

The Freedom to Marry chronicles Wolfson, Bonauto and a few couples along the way who they fought the good fight with.  This documentary, at times, was just as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking, but inspiring all at once.

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I AM HEATH LEDGER

I AM HEATH LEDGER

Described by his Mom as a "wild stallion",  this  overzealous Australian teen  booked his first film "10 Things I Hate About You," shortly upon arrival in Tinseltown.  However, it was his big break opposite Mel Gibson in The Patriot that put him on the map and Brokeback Mountain made him an A-list star.

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COPWATCH

COPWATCH

Do we ever wonder what happens to those capturing the injustice?  I know I didn't, but thanks to the new documentary Copwatch that portal has now been opened.  Directed by Camilla Hall, this documentary profiles several WeCopwatch members - revealing how their mission to film police brutality has impacted their lives.  This isn't about what happened in front of the cameras, but about those who stood behind them.  The members featured captured the fatal arrests of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray.

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Let It Fall

Let It Fall

Remembering the L.A. Riots and the Rodney King beating vividly, I was surprised to become enlightened about all the elements and incidents that were popping off.  I had no idea that a young LatashaHarlins was shot in the head over some orange juice by the shop owner.  No idea that Karen Toshima, a budding artist, was gunned down in Westwood.  No idea that James Mincey, Jr. was murdered based on the stereotype that he "looked" "big and threatening" or that innocent families had their homes ransacked for drugs leaving their abode inhabitable.

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#inspiringWomanPBS Maya: And Still I Rise

#inspiringWomanPBS Maya:  And Still I Rise

We don't know the heartbreak of never having a lifetime love.  We don't know how isolating and lonely it is to be a strong, intelligent, independent black woman.  We don't know what it is to balance love for a parent, even when that parent treats you as if you have rocks for a brain.  These are the Maya Angelou private images that we would never know...until now.

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Bright Lights: RIP Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Bright Lights:    RIP Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

As many people have seen in numerous posts over the years, I unequivocably love my mother.  She's my sheroe.  She taught me that it was never too late in life to accomplish ANYTHING.  She is one of the bravest women I know, loves me unconditionally and sometimes behaves as if she doesn't want to ever let me grow up.  One day, as we prepared to go out somewhere, she was tugging on my clothes annoying me to no end.  Being a smartass I quipped, "You're always going to be my mother aren't you?".  She quickly snapped, "Well, what did you expect...of course I am".

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MISS SHARON JONES

MISS SHARON JONES

Too short.  Too Black. Too Fat.  This is what record execs told Sharon Jones while she pursued a record deal.  Man, did she prove everyone wrong...including herself!

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13th

The 13th Amendment.  What do we really know about it other than it was part of the constitution that kicked slavery to the curb.  It declared that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime  whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Leave it to director Ava Duvernay to break it all the way down to make a case out of the fact that slavery hasn't really been abolished.  In fact, it's actually evolved into our current system of mass incarceration.  A system,  in which many prisons are run by major corporations (Walmart and Victoria's Secret)  for profit.  Prisoners  are paid a pittance for their labor. Twelve cents an hours to be exact.

In a year that has seen a black life murdered or jailed at a rapid rate, a movement incited by people of all races speaking out on the injustices called #BlackLivesMatter and year in film that began with the hashtag #oscarssowhite, 13th brings to the forefront a much need conversation about mass incarceration of people of color.

From Jim Crow laws to Nixon's "war on drugs" to Bill Clinton's "three strikes" legislation, mass incarceration is a real issue and one that sorely needs investigating and discussing.  In 1970, there were 200,000 prisoners and today the numbers are staggering toward more than 2 million.  Did you know that while the America has more than just 5% of the world's population, we have more than 25% of the world's population in prisoners?  It is a proven fact that one in three prisoners are black men and more than 60% of the people in the prison system are people of color.

Interviewing scholars and activists ranging from Angela Davis to rapper/Oscar winner Common, the film trots out images of lynchings, cellphone videos of police abuse and footage from the  1815 D.W. Griffith film "The Birth of a Nation".  That film alone glorified the Klu Klux Klan and was screened with pride at the White House for then President Woodrow Wilson. I know ...right??!!

13th couldn't  be more timely in an election year where we have candidates speaking of building walls, politicians pushing for criminal justice reform and reducing the prison population - particularly of non-violent offenders.  As if Hillary Clinton doesn't have enough on her plate with those damn emails, the film openly criticizes Bill and Hillary for supporting the 1990's crime bill that has led to a massive increase of the prison population today.  A bill in which those both now realize was a fatally flawed mistake for our country.

A pivotal, yet chilling moment for me was some footage of a recent Trump rally - where angry white people with black protestors are shown against archival clips of civil rights protestors.  All the while listening to Donald Trump say, "In the good old days...they would be carried out on stretchers."

I'm not gonna lie.  Watching these types of projects makes me feel some kind of way. Mostly angry, hurt and left with a massive desire to make difference.  Obviously, there is strength in numbers.  Each one teach and tell one.  So, today I have taught you more than you probably wanted to know about the 13th amendment through the lens of brilliant director Ava Duvernay.  The rest is literally up to you to keep the conversation going until a change is made.

13th can be streamed NOW via Netflix.

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!