Here’s your first look at Daniel Kaluuya’s Black Panther Party film

Starring alongside Lakeith Stanfield, he plays the revolutionary socialist Fred Hampton.

by Douglas Greenwood
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07 August 2020, 12:22pm

After being delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve finally got our first glance at Daniel Kaluuya’s latest project, and he’s playing one of the most significant figures in Black history. Announced back in 2019, Judas and the Black Messiah is a cinematic interpretation of the story of Fred Hampton one of the seminal activists in the Black Panther Party who was targeted by the FBI and framed as a radical threat, before being killed by the FBI at the age of 21. The information that led to his death was provided by an informant, William O’Neal, played in the film by Lakeith Stanfield.

Directed by relative newcomer Shaka King and produced by Ryan Coogler, who famously headed up Marvel’s Black Panther, the film promises to feature another riveting (perhaps award-winning) turn from Daniel, who’s on a solid run following Get Out, Widows and Queen and Slim. "You can kill a freedom fighter but you can't kill freedom," he says, slipping seamlessly into character in the film’s trailer.

The original plan was for the film to debut on 21 August, occupying that strong summer slot that often helps kick off talks about awards season amidst a season of more popcorn fare. But in the wake of the pandemic, as well as a later Oscar season than usual, the film has been pushed back into 2021.

For those looking to do some prior reading on the subject of the film, which is more urgent than ever, you can check out our anti-racist reading list to see how the work of Fred Hampton remains in action. Judas and the Black Messiah might be a historical drama, but the ripple effects of his activism are still much-needed today.

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