Sunday, June 8, 2008

Craig Brewer: Reconstructing The South

Criag Brewer is one of those amazing director/screenwriters that come along every July snow. He was born in Virginia on December 6, 1971. His father Walter worked in a number of high-level corporate positions for Matson Navigation Company, culminating in the position of director of corporate development from 1990-1998, when he died. His work caused the family to move from Vallejo, California (where Craig attended elementary school and junior high) to Orange County, returning to Vallejo in the early 1990s. Walter frequently rented out local theaters to present young Craig's plays and often financed Craig's productions.

Craig's mother, Gail, was a school board member for Vallejo's district both times the family lived there and taught English and Drama in nearby Mt. Diablo School District. She allowed her son, fresh out of high school, to teach her drama courses at College Park High School in Pleasant Hill, CA and produce/direct the school's plays, with the school occasionally serving as a showcase for his original works. Craig's father also helped finance school productions, and helped to rent out local theaters for additional shows. Craig's high school friends, including future wife Jodi and Chris Barella, took an active role in CPHS's drama department productions. Craig's younger sister, Amanda Brewer attended CPHS from 1992-1995. Because o this early experience Craig was able to go on to work with the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.

After moving to Memphis with his wife, Jodi, Brewer wrote and directed his first feature, The Poor and Hungry (2000). Set in Memphis, about a car thief who falls in love with one of his victims, the film won the Hollywood Discovery Award for Best Digital Feature at the Hollywood Film Festival; Best Feature Film at the Magnolia Independent Film Festival; and Audience Choice Award, Dreammaker Award and Special Award of Merit at the Nashville Independent Festival. It later aired on the Independent Film Channel.

By the time Brewer teamed-up with Stephanie Allain and John Singleton for his next film, Hustle & Flow (2005), starring Terrence Dashon Howard and Anthony Anderson, he was soon to be an award-winning screen-wrtier. The movie was about a Memphis pimp who dreams of becoming a successful rapper, and the film won the Audience Award at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.

Brewer continues to live in Memphis and included the regional elements in his 2007 film, Black Snake Moan, about a white nymphomaniac (Christina Ricci) who has to be cured by an older black man (Samuel L. Jackson). The unapologetically lurid posters for "Black Snake Moan," showing a chained-up Ricci in a crop top and cut-off shorts, was designed to shock, and seem to have done the trick: When Salon's Andrew O'Hehir wrote about Black Sanke Moan from Sundance, plenty of readers chimed in to denounce the movie for its misogyny, despite the fact that none of them had yet seen it. Nevertheless,this picture about the redemptive possibilities of the blues (Jackson does his own singing), and it also featured Justin Timberlake, as Ricci's soldier boyfriend, in a nonsinging role. The movie won critical aclaim.

A new film, Maggie Lynn, is currently in pre-production, this film is also Produced by Stephanie Allain. Craig was named among Fade In Magazine's "100 People in Hollywood You Need to Know" in 2005. Find out more about him at:

Research info gathered at:

Now, here's one of my poems with "southern hospitality":

Am I Going To Prison?

In this scenario every other public school is a
federal prison. The nation’s inner courtyard
has been transformed into a theme park with
cotton candy machines dressed in bunny suits.
I’m responsible for organizing the egg hunt.
You’re in charge of the soap oprea commercial
projected on a snowy screen. I wear a rented
trampoline and an Afro wig and you sport pink
pedal-pushers and a clip-on bow tie. We are
convinced no child should be left behind and
insist on staying the entire length of the visiting
hour staring at life in the aquarium but not
talking. Words are cheap. Sex is an identifiable
bacteria founded in the produce section of the
supermarket. Fact is, lights from the maximum
penitentiary burns so intensely the stars have all
given up and gone dark. We quickly learn not to
idealize, not to judge, not to demonize, not to
anathematize, naked eyed and borne out in the
statistics that only Russia approaches our rate
of incarceration, which makes you wonder who’s
left to look after the dog.

Poem first published at:
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and music blog:
Poem Copyright 2008 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.


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