Common, John Legend & More Set For Blackhouse Sundance Summit

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Elton Anderson
 John Legend at Blackhouse Foundation’s 2016 Sundance summit.

Common, John Legend and director John Singleton are among the special guests confirmed for Blackhouse Foundation’s slate of panel discussions at the Sundance Film Festival. Held at the Buona Vita restaurant in Park City, Utah, Blackhouse’s four-day run at the annual event kicks off Jan. 20 and ends Jan. 23.

Common will participate in a panel discussion sponsored by Campaign for Black Male Achievement, alongside director Gerard McMurray (forthcoming film Burning Sands, featuring music artists Trevor Jackson and Empire cast member Serayah) and Franklin Leonard, film executive and founder of the publication The Black List. Legend, executive producer of WGN America’s Underground, will be on hand to talk about the television series’ upcoming second season. He’ll be joined by two of the show’s stars, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Aldis Hodge, and its creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski.

Singleton will lead the conversation for the BET-sponsored panel “Rise Up: The Evolution of Black Womanhood on Screen.” He’ll also introduce a clip from his new BET series, Rebel. The drama stars Giancarlo Esposito and Danielle Moné Truitt and co-stars rapper Cliff “Method Man” Smith, among others. Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jill Scott composed the music for the pilot. Notes Singleton of Blackhouse, “I love to see the energy of new filmmakers of color who have so many great stories to tell on the big screen.”

Additional Blackhouse programming highlights include a discussion with director McMurray of the aforementioned Burning Sands, which stars Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes, and the “HBCU Rising” panel session. The latter is tied to filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s documentary Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities due later this year. Grammy-nominated singer/producer/DJ Vikter Duplaix will be curating the music for Blackhouse’s evening festivities.

This year marks Blackhouse Foundation’s 10th year at Sundance. Founded in 2006 by chairman Brickson Diamond, the organization focuses on expanding opportunities for minority content creators in film, television, digital and emerging platforms.

“This is a renaissance time for black film, TV and content,” says Diamond. “In the face of changing tides in this country and around the world, we have to provide more of a platform, and increased levels of access, for our artists and our stories.”

Sundance 2017