Based on the true story of Orson Welles, Rose McClendon and their revolutionary Shakespeare production!
Produced by the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts in association with Warner Bros., this 14x Festival Winner tells the dramatic story of when, in 1936, Broadway star Rose McClendon and producer John Houseman convinced a gifted but untested 20-year-old Orson Welles to direct Shakespeare’s Macbeth with an all-Black cast in Harlem.
Set in Haiti, the production first earned the nickname “Haitian Vodou” fulfilling the element of witchcraft contained in the Shakespeare original. It later became more famously known as “Voodoo Macbeth”.
A box office sensation, the production, which toured the nation, was regarded as a landmark theatrical event for its innovative interpretation of the play, its success in promoting African-American theater, and its role in the development of Orson Welles as a new and powerful theatrical force.
It was before Citizen Kane and before War of the Worlds. It was dynamic and included Orson and Rose – who also played Lady Macbeth – clashing over everything from scene blocking to crew hires, while Houseman contended with a congressman hell-bent on shutting down what he deemed to be communist propaganda. In the end, Welles and McClendon overcame the political pressure, personal demons, and protests to realize their groundbreaking vision.
This 2021 film / 2022 theatrical release tells the story how Voodoo Macbeth was conceived and developed. Its dramatic and theatrical style is due, at least in part, to the extensive collaboration that went into the production itself. The large cast, numerous directors, multiple producers and the USC/Warner Bros. relationship results not only in incredible storytelling, but also in a new and exciting style of production itself.
The Volume of Festival Wins to Date Speak Loudly. Here are a few…
- Best Film – Harlem International Film Festival
- Best Production – Harlem International Film Festival
- Best Actress – Harlem International Film Festival
- Best Film – Vail Film Festival
- Best Director, Charlotte Black Film Festival
- Best Ensemble Cast – San Diego International Film Festival
- Director’s Choice Award / Independent Spirit Award – Sedona International Film Festival
- Best Director – Catalina Film Festival
- Best U.S. Feature – Catalina Film Festival
- Best Actress – Catalina Film Festival
- Best Actor – Catalina Film Festival
“A moving tribute to an indelible slice of history, that is finally being shared and celebrated! One of Orson Welles’ most pivotal moments, right before Citizen Kane, brought beautifully to life. This story was hidden for far too long, along with Rose McClendon’s wonderful legacy. Some say better late than never, but this story should be shouted from the rooftops, uncovering one of America’s hidden jewels, that was always meant to shine!” – Suzanne Marques, CBS Los Angeles.
“Impressive…the film’s production is itself a collaborative effort in the spirit of the Harlem theatre…”– J. Paul Johnson, 25 Years Later.
“This retelling of a very innovative part of theater and African American history is precious.” – Dwight Brown, National Newspaper Publishers Association.
“A fantastic example of team unity as there is never a sense of multiple voices trying to steer this project…with solid production design up and down the line and never a sense of doubt in the story that it is trying to capture.” – Dave Voigt, In The Seats.
“By all odds, my great success in my life was that play, because the opening night there were five blocks in which all traffic was stopped. You couldn’t get near the theatre in Harlem. Everybody who was anybody in the black or white world was there. And when the play ended there were so many curtain calls that finally they left the curtain open, and the audience came up on the stage to congratulate the actors. And that was magical.” – Orson Welles (1982 interview)
BONUS MATERIAL ON THE DISC VERSIONS
- Audio Commentary
- Actual 1936 footage from National Archives of the play that toured the country to interracial audiences.
2021 / Drama / 108 minutes / Color / English Language / A film directed by Agazi Desta, Sabina Vajrača, Hannah Bang, Christopher Beaton, Dagmawi Abebe, Victor Alonso-Berbel, Tiffany K. Guillen, Zoë Salnave, Ernesto Sandoval, Roy Arwas, and produced by Xiaoyuan Xiao, Miles Alva , Jason Phillips, John Watson.
HOW TO ORDER:
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In-home/personal use copies are available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3fjerzW
WATCH THE TRAILER