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Film Thu Mar 29 2012

Life, Love, Soul in Chicago


Filmmaker Noel Calloway and Life, Love, Soul cast; l to r: Robbie Tate-Brickle, Chad Coleman & Jamie Hector. Photo: Charles Jackson.

Noel Calloway recognizes the long-term effect of the lack of positive on-screen images; with his feature film debut, Life, Love, Soul, winner of the 2011 Urbanworld Film Festival's "Audience Award," the New York-born filmmaker, director and writer tells the story of 17-year-old Roosevelt Jackson (newcomer Robbie Tate-Brickle), who, after the sudden death of his mother, is forced to live with his estranged father. "I felt this was something that should be addressed and writing about it was my vehicle," said Calloway. Recently, at theWit Hotel, 201 N. State St., he, along with cast members Chad Coleman ("I Hate My Teenage Daughter, "The Wire") and Jamie Hector ("The Wire, "CSI: Miami") attended the Chicago screening of the film and addressed the film's motivational messages.

For Calloway, focusing on father-son relationships and the challenges that accompany them were important to highlight in the film. "What I wanted to do was give a story that gave both perspectives," he said. "I think that's a void sometimes in our portrayals and in our discussions as well--we don't get all the sides."

Tate-Brickle, the lead character, agrees with the film's display of the benefits of a productive, two-way relationship; of his on-screen father Earl (Coleman), he noted, "He helped him grow as a man and vice versa. I think that's very interesting when you see it on the screen--to see their relationship and how it builds up from both sides." For Coleman, his character serves as inspiration and encouragement to men everywhere. "I took on this role because what Noel put on the page was an amazing journey, which is my hope and what inspires me for my community," he said. The film allowed us to be able to say that we can work through [all] that--that there's a wall here and we can break that thing down in a very real way and build some bridges."

Despite Life, Love, Soul being his first project, it was always a factor to boldly and honestly confront the sometimes complicated relationships between fathers and sons, as well as the often negative images of young African-American men and how they affect society at large. "My intention is to provoke those conversations. I would not want to create a film where everyone is going to be on the same side of the fence," said Calloway. And for him, those "conversations" are very prevalent in cities like Chicago, with a major urban population. "If we show that kids in these same cities like Chicago, New York, or Baltimore are normal kids, are not nerds and that they do go to school, we show that not everybody's a 'gangster'; there are actually more of those kids and it was definitely a conscious effort to put that on screen."


Actor Jamie Hector. Photo: Charles Jackson.

In addition to popular, veteran actors like Coleman and Hector, the film also boasts talented actresses including Tami Roman and Terri J. Vaughn ("Meet the Browns," "The Steve Harvey Show"), as well as singer and songwriter Valerie Simpson, one half of famed R&B duo, Ashford and Simpson. "All of these female characters are strong, intelligent, different and vibrant," said Calloway. "And Valerie Simpson--who makes her big screen debut in my film--that's ridiculous!"

For the cast as a whole, the film resonates with a strong message that both teens and families can take away from the film; for Hector, his role in the film hits close to home, especially via his nonprofit organization, Moving Mountains. "This is closer to my life more than other roles; this is what I do--inspire, motivate, and work with kids, letting them know they have a giant that lives inside of them." And for Calloway, the message is simple: "No matter what you're going through, you're not alone."

Life, Love, Soul opens in seven cities on April 13; visit the website for more information.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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