Fox Searchlight is calling its musical movie adaptation Black Nativity "the film of the season," and stars Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett have been giving interviews as they promote the film, which released Wednesday.
Black Nativity is based on Langston Hughes' play of the same name, which was originally performed Off-Broadway in December, 1961. Featuring an all-black cast, it was the first play to feature a real gospel choir.
Kasi Lemmons wrote the screenplay and directed the film.
Bassett said that when she read the script, "it was challenging trying to image what it would be because the vision of it really was ... in the heart and in the head of ... Lemmons."
According to Whitaker, most of the choir was "from the church." He admitted to getting "lost in the energy of it" when the musical numbers were performed.
Bassett described the singers as "so sincere, so authentic."
— Fox Searchlight (@foxsearchlight) November 27, 2013
Besides Whitaker and Bassett, the film stars Academy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Tyrese Gibson, Nasir "Nas" Jones, and Vondie Curtis-Hall.
In a modern take on the original play, the film follows a Baltimore teen, played by Jacob Latimore, to New York City after he and his single mother (played by Hudson) are evicted from their home. Latimore is to spend the holidays with his grandparents (Whitaker and Bassett) from whom his mother has been estranged for most of his life.
Fox Searchlight clearly hopes Black Nativity will be one of those uplifting movies that is seen as perfect for the holiday season. The official website describes Latimore's character's experience with his grandparents in feel-good terms: "a surprising and inspirational journey ... along with new friends, and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and family."
Image via YouTube