Although film director Shaka King has yet to become a household name, that may change with his latest project Newlyweeds – which reveals a little-known side of the black New Yorker living experience. The film opened yesterday (Sept. 18) at the Film Forum in New York after a run earlier this year at Sundance, and King talked the finer points of the film in a recent interview.
Sitting with Gawker, King, a Brooklyn native, spoke candidly about Newlyweeds while explaining its portrayal of a normal black couple living in New York with a heavy kush smoking habit, and how his family were actually to first to gentrify Bed Stuy.
Gawker: Newlyweeds does some things I haven’t seen before, or have just seen rarely: It profiles the domesticity of more or less normal black couple, it examines weed dependency, it celebrates Bed Stuy. Did you aim to be different?
Shaka King: I think part of the reason people connected to Kanye West’s early material and basically every sort of black artist who’s crossed over to the mainstream and has still maintained a level of, “Oh this dude didn’t sell out, I really believe in this guy’s art,” it’s generally the person who is defying the sort of typical idea of black masculinity and femininity is. It’s crazy to me that there hasn’t really been a movie like this, that I can think of, where you have a holistic portrayal of contemporary black life in New York City.
King also goes into great detail about racism and movies, speaking directly to films like The Help, The Butler, and 12 Years A Slave while remarking on how blacks in roles of servitude in the movies seem to get the attention of the upper tiers of the industry. And while his current flick is centered around the sticky green leaf, King himself has a bad relationship with the narcotic surprisingly enough.
Newlyweeds, featuring Trae Harris as Nina and Amari Cheatom in the main roles, is currently airing at Manhattan’s Film Forum.
Check out the trailer for Newlyweeds in the clip below.
Photo: Daniel Patterson/Phase 4 Films