Black August TCinque J. Sampson and Samm Styles

Television crime solver Gary Dourdan (CSI) plays real life revolutionary George Jackson, a member of the Black Panther Party and founder of the Black Guerrilla Family. Jackson was a political prisoner for 11 years of his life before guards in San Quentin State Prison murdered him. So, which period of his remarkable life does Black August focus on? Why, the time spent editing and preparing for the publication of his book Soledad Brother, of course! Not that you would know that was the focus by looking at any of the film’s promotional material. The title refers to Jackson’s younger brother’s participation in a courtroom hostage taking to protest Jackson’s upcoming trial. In an effort to emphasise gunplay, that hostage situation features prominently in the film’s trailer and cover blurb. It is a fascinating story in itself but it occupies all of eight minutes of screen time. Black August has no idea what it wants to be and so it is woefully inadequate on all fronts. I’m no stranger to low-budget film but Black August looks and sounds terrible. It features community theatre-calibre sets and acting. Co-star Darren Bridgett is the worst offender on the talent front, playing Washington’s editor David Dryer. The bonus features consist of several thankfully excised scenes. They are not worth the time. Mind you, you could be even more productive with your time by avoiding this movie entirely. For those interested in George Jackson, I would recommend picking up a copy of Soledad Brother. And if you want any entertainment or educational value from Black August, I can only recommend looking into the labour disputes surrounding the production. Very entertaining. (Warner)