Filmmakers Adamma and Adanne Ebo are taking on megachurch culture with their Sundance film, Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul.
As an official media partner at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, Shadow and Act interviewed the twin sisters and filmmakers about the film, a comedy-drama which they call a “faux-documentary,” and what it was like working with Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown.
S&A Managing Editor Trey Mangum moderated the conversation, in which he asked what it was like for the Ebo sisters to work together as film partners.
“It just honestly felt natural.” said Adanne, with Adamma adding, “It’s all we’ve ever known.”
“We were born a partnership, we lived a partnership,” said Adamma. “…I don’t think we knew going into our careers that we would be a creative partnership…but once we decided, it just felt like the next natural step in our relationship.”
The initial short film gained exposure in a short film format on Issa Rae’s Short Film Sundays, and as they were developing the feature-length version, Adamma and Adanne were able to attract Daniel Kaluuya to become a producer. Adamma said it was “shocking” to get Hall to play their first choice for their female lead character, Trinitie.
“I was like, ‘I need somebody who is gut-bustingly funny, but you could really dig deep and find some of those dramatic moments because the film does run that tonal gambit, and Regina Hall has been huge in Black Hollywood for forever,” she said. “I never thought I could get Regina Hall.”
The search for Hall’s co-lead Lee-Curtis was a bit longer, said Adamma. But the sisters eventually found him in Brown.
“Sterling’s name had come up a couple of times and we were like, ‘Is Sterling funny?’ We’re used to him making us have all the feels and cry,” she said “…So we were scrolling through his credits on IMDb and we saw that he won an Emmy for guest-starring on Brooklyn 9-9, so we were like, ‘Okay, let’s check out this episode.’ We watched it, and he was so hilarious…He also has the range. We now know he has the complete range.”
Both talked about how supportive Hall and Brown were as actors and executive producers.
“I think a lot of Lee-Curtis and Trinitie is on the page but they brought so much as executive producers, really digging into the characters, using their resources to help this tiny, independent short film happen,” said Adamma. “I am enthralled with them; it’s going to be so hard to work with other people. I love them so much. They were so nurturing…it felt so familial.”
She hopes they can work together on future films, adding, “I am totally down to built a Sterling and Regina multiverse.”
Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul premieres online at Sundance Jan. 23 with a second showing Jan. 25. Visit Sundance’s website for more information.
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Flee, CODA, Passing, Summer Of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape.
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