“August was that one writer who saw me. And when I say ‘me,’ I do mean me, but I also mean people like me,” Viola Davis says in the trailer for Giving Voice, an upcoming documentary that honors the legacy of iconic Black playwright August Wilson, whose plays like Fences and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom left an indelible mark on Black history. And Davis, who won an Oscar for her performance in the feature adaptation of Fences and is earning buzz for her turn in the upcoming Netflix adaptation of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, is now using her platform to make sure that Wilson’s legacy lives on in young Black students across the country, who are at the center of this documentary. Watch the Giving Voice trailer below.
Giving Voice Trailer
Directed by James D. Stern and Fernando Villena, Giving Voice had its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Sundance Favorite Award, earning it Netflix’s attention and money. The streamer acquired the documentary, which pairs nicely with its upcoming release of the highly anticipated Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, a feature adaptation of Wilson’s play directed by George C. Wolfe and starring Davis as well as Chadwick Boseman in his final feature role.
The documentary is a rousing tribute to Wilson through the lens of a yearly August Wilson monologue competition, in which thousands of high school students enter for the chance to perform on Broadway — a connection which Davis cherishes, having gotten her breakthrough on the Great White Way in the 2001 Broadway production of Wilson’s King Hedley II.
Giving Voice features the song “Never Break” from John Legend, and is produced by James D. Stern, Karen Bove, Fernando Villena, Schoen Smith, and Craig Piligian. Its executive producers include Davis, Julius Tennon, John Legend, Mike Jackson, Ty Stiklorius Dan Cogan, Jenny Raskin, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Gretchen Stockdale, Nicholas Caprio, and Constanza Romero.
Here is the synopsis for Giving Voice:
A new generation of performers is discovered in “Giving Voice,” which follows the emotional journey of six students as they advance through the high-stakes August Wilson Monologue Competition, an event which celebrates one of America’s preeminent playwrights. Every year, thousands of students from twelve cities across the United States perform the Pulitzer Prize winner’s work (“Fences,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) for a shot to perform on Broadway. Directors Jim Stern and Fernando Villena capture students discovering themselves and the world around them through Wilson’s “Century Cycle,” a canon of ten plays portraying the 20th century African American experience. Executive producer Viola Davis, along with “Fences” co-star Denzel Washington, share the impact that Wilson’s timeless artistry and legacy has had on their careers and their hopes for the young people carrying it forward. Giving Voice is an Endgame Entertainment and Pilgrim Media Group Production in association with Endeavor Content, Impact Partners, Get Lifted Film Co and JuVee Productions.
Giving Voice hits Netflix on December 11, 2020.
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