The producers of Janelle Monae's hard-hitting new movie, "Antebellum", chose not to wait for cinemas to re-open after the COVID shutdown to release the project because it's too relevant to the times.
In her first leading role, the singer doubles up as a bestselling author studying the history of African-Americans and Civil War-era slavery, and first-time director Gerard Bush tells WENN the film is too important to be put on hold.
Instead, "Antebellum" will be released via video-on-demand platforms this weekend, September 11.
"The parallels with the pandemic of racism that has existed in this country for the past 400 years… meant that we not defer this much-needed conversation another day," he explains.
"Although we had designed 'Antebellum' for the theatrical experience, the urgency of getting the movie in front of as many people as possible now in this moment was much more important than waiting until later in 2021 to get it out in theaters."
And there's another good reason to release the film now, "This feels like a divine time for the movie because the release date that we chose, September 18, unbeknownst to us, was the exact date of the anniversary of The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, and that gave us a feeling of, 'This is what we're supposed to do.' "
Meanwhile, Monae insists the film is an important conversation piece following a summer of Black Lives Matter protests throughout the U.S.
"This film highlights what black women have to deal with every single day as we carry the burden of dismantling white supremacy and systemic racism," she adds. "This isn't something that we should be doing, yet we are doing it. I think this film reminds us what's at stake. If we don't use our privilege for good to protect black lives, then we will continue to see an uprising and we will continue to lose human beings who matter."
"We need to continue the conversation, because through dialogue is how we get to change. If we are continuing business as usual and ignoring the past, which was channel slavery, and how it has informed all of the racist policies that we have today, then we won't get real change."
"Policing even during the Civil War wasn't meant to protect, but to terrorize; without realizing that we won't get to the real solution to the real problem."