A host of celebrities and local talent attended the Atlanta premiere screening of HBO’s upcoming original film Bessie earlier this week.
The invite-only event at The Rialto Center for the Arts attracted nearly 500 attendees, including actors, musicians and dancers who appeared in the movie.
The soiree, presented by HBO and the Georgia Film Office, was hosted by the film’s producer Shelby Stone and lead actor Tory Kittles. Guests enjoyed movie-style snacks, including popcorn, homemade cookies and an assortment of candies.
Based on the life of legendary blues singer Bessie Smith, the movie is already creating a buzz, with film buffs praising Oscar-nominee Queen Latifah’s poignant portrayal of Smith. Directed by Dee Rees (“Pariah”), the flick focuses on the Jazz icons turbulent life and transformation from a struggling singer to “the Empress of the Blues,” who became one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s.
During Monday’s event, Bessie was presented a Phoenix Award from the City of Atlanta, recognizing the singer’s ties to Georgia and commending the production for its contribution to the state.
Not only was Atlanta a featured city in Bessie, the movie was filmed almost entirely in Georgia. The production generated more than $16 million into the state economy, employing nearly 1,700 cast and crew in more than 27 locations.
The film is based on a screenplay by Dee Rees and Christopher Cleveland & Bettina Gilois, with a story by Dee Rees and Horton Foote. Cast members include Michael Kenneth Williams, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, Tory Kittles, Tika Sumpter, Oliver Platt, Bryan Greenberg, Charles S. Dutton and Mo’Nique.
Guests at the screening included film and stage actresses, Donna Bisco and Maria Howell; legendary casting director, Reuben Cannon and his wife, “Drumline 2″ actress, Jasmine Burke; “Living Single” actor, T.C. Carson, “A Different World” star, Jasmine Guy; comedic actor, Rodney Perry; Bronze Lens Film Festival Founder, Kathleen Bertrand, media personality, Karyn Greer; and actress, Tammy McGarity.
Bessie debuts Saturday, May 16 (8:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT) exclusively on HBO.
Follow Kunbi Tinuoye on Twitter@Kunbiti
Check out more photos of the screening here: