- "Gospel Hill" a spotlight film being premiered during the HIFF
, stars Danny Glover, Angela Bassett, Samuel L. Jackson
, Taylor Kitsch, Julia Stiles
, and RZA. The first screening was held Thursday, Oct. 16, at the UA Theatre in East Hampton, and a second screening was held on Saturday, Oct. 18, at 9 p.m. in Southampton.
Directed by Giancarlo Esposito, with screenplay by Jeff Stacy, Jeffrey Pratt Gordon and Terrell Tannen, the 98-minute film concerns the struggling and long-brewing racial tensions of a small Southern town as a result of an unsolved 40-year-old murder.
Glover plays John Malcolm, the son of an assassinated civil rights leader (Sam Jackson), who is being honored by the town 40 years after his still unsolved murder.
Concurrently with the upcoming event, Glover is withdrawn and distant from his wife (Angela Bassett) who is a teacher and community activist who attempts to engage her husband's assistance to prevent developers from "invading" Gospel Hill in hopes of turning it into a golf course. The developers are aided by the local doctor (Giancarlo Esposito). Julia Stiles plays an idealistic school teacher who begins to fall for the son of the retired local bigoted sheriff who never solved the murder.
Giancarlo Esposito with his biggest fan, 4-year-old daughter, Ruby.
The past and present realities of life in the South (North Carolina) are all connected together among this cast as they individually struggle with making the right choices and decisions to atone for the past and hopefully amend the future.
The personal relationships between a husband and wife, a father and his sons, a former law officer and an disabled war veteran, a doctor and his patients, and a community with its race and economic woes are all explored, but not necessarily resolved in this thoughtful film. The film is Esposito's first film in the HIFF.
Speaking with Esposito prior to the screening, this well-known actor and director expressed, "This film has been a labor of love for me. It took me four years to make, and it was completed in 2007. I fell in love with the script, and I worked with the screenwriters, and acted as producer as well to bring this personally compelling and timely film to the screen."
Commenting on the dual roles he assumes in "Gospel Hill" as both director and actor, Esposito relayed, "As an actor I am comfortable with the egos of actors, and as a director I was thrilled with the script. I was fortunate enough to work with a stellar cast of actors." Having acted with both Samuel L. Jackson and Nia Long (who plays his wife) in prior films, Esposito also stated that "There is no comparison between actors and directors. I've been an actor for 43 years, and actors are narcissistic, however, as a director I can understand that, and it allows me to draw on that point of view."
Esposito's "Gospel Hill" once again illuminates how the past can always follow us into the future, and that the actions of one person can dramatically affect the lives of many.
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.