Currently streaming on Netflix (it premiered on April 28) is the Spike Lee-directed taping of Roger Guenveur Smith's one-man Rodney King show, which was picked up by the streaming platform earlier this year to release on a date that coincided with what was the 25th anniversary of the acquittals of the LAPD officers who were videotaped brutally beating King in 1991.
Titled “Rodney King,” the work is an adaptation of Smith's Bessie Award-winning stage production of the same name, and is the latest addition to a distinguished body of historically inspired work which also includes "Frederick Douglass Now," "Who Killed Bob Marley?," "In Honor of Jean-Michel Basquiat," "The Watts Towers Project," and more.
In the piece - a collision of history, poetry, and tragedy - Smith tackles the harrowing odyssey of Rodney King, from the national spotlight as the victim of police brutality, to his involuntary martyrdom that ignited the L.A. riots, to his lonely death at the bottom of a swimming pool.
It's a rhythm-driven mix of improvised movement and theatre, spoken word poetry and, as Smith himself describes it, a “post-mortem interview with the man himself.”
He's been performing the show at theaters across the nation since 2013.
Now Lee and Smith are taking the project to the Cannes Film Festival where they will discuss the Netflix Original documentary during a Cannes keynote at The American Pavilion on May 22, as part of a charity benefit black tie gala hosted by Luxury concierge service WanderLuxxe, that will honor of Lee and Smith, featuring performances and tributes to both gentlemen.
“We are so thrilled to be able to partner with such respected filmmakers such as Spike Lee and Smith along with Luna Ray Media for an incredible gala and panel discussion at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, which is celebrating 70 years,” WanderLuxxe co-founders Marti Hines and Lola Wood said to Screen International. “We are looking forward to creating a magical gala to celebrate these great talents, and to honor their impactful film work at this year’s festival.”
Netflix's "Rodney King" - which Spike Lee filmed last August (2016) in New York City - is produced by Steven Adams and Bob L. Johnson for Luna Ray Media. Matthew Helderman, Luke Taylor, and Patrick DePeters are executive producing for Buffalo 8 Productions.
It's currently streaming on Netflix: