THE HEROES PROJECT
SQUARE 1 PROJECT
Bruised serves as Halle Berry’s directorial debut; a classic redemption story about the trials and tribulations of a passionate MMA fighter. Halle Berry stars as Jackie Justice who walked away from the sport after losing one of the biggest fights of her career. After a disgraceful exit from the MMA world, Jackie wastes her talent and finds comfort in taking on odd jobs until her boyfriend tricks her into attending an underground fight. Her passion for the sport is reignited and her journey begins. As she begins her road to redemption, she’s faced with her past demons and she begins fighting for a second chance at life – in the ring, and as a mother to the son she abandoned who unexpectedly re-enters her life.
Berry has long been interested in filmmaking, especially as a Black woman in the industry, whose chances of directing are limited. The script struck a chord with Berry and she felt compelled to reimagine the script for a black woman instead of the traditional white-led story. During a Variety interview, Berry explained, “It’s an old genre; there’s so many great fight films that have been made. I made the point why it would be worth retelling an age-old story with this new twist.” The film was featured in the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2020 and gained significant attention from major distributors. Bruised quickly gained the attention of Netflix and has since been bought for a whopping twenty million dollars. The official trailer has been released and will feature in select theaters on November 17, 2021.
National Champions is a film about the tenuous ecosystem that makes up collegiate athletics. It raises essential questions about what is the fair and equitable balance between the rights of student-athletes who essentially fuel the industry and the college athletics institutions that have existed for over 100 years who have cemented and operate the existing system. In this gripping drama, star quarterback LeMarcus James – played by Stephan James – ignites a players’ strike hours before the college football National Championship Game in order to raise awareness of his perceived unfairness of the NCAA system, signaling a fight ahead for equitable compensation, equal rights, and respect for student-athletes.
The story of National Champions revolves around the timely and delicate issue of institutional control versus individual freedoms, in this case doing so against the backdrop of college athletics. The protagonist of the film, LeMarcus, attempts to bring attention to what he perceives is an abuse of power by the institutions that control the system, thus leaving student-athletes with very little to show for their efforts. To do so, he organizes a player walk-out on the eve of the biggest event of the year – against the wishes of his coach and mentor, James Lazor – played by Academy Award winning, JK Simmons. This impromptu protest evokes a much broader conversation and shines light on the exploitation of student-athlete’s service to the institutions that are in control of the system. In short, National Champions serves as a triumphant story to stand up for what’s right – potentially sacrificing everything in the process.
This extraordinary film was directed by Ric Roman Waugh and penned by Adam Mervis. Waugh has directed some of the most intense and gripping films in recent times, including: Snitch, Shot Caller, Angel Has Fallen, and Greenland, among many others. To his credit, Mervis has written a series of intriguing films, including: The Last Days of Capitalism, The Philly Kid, Choices, Shakespeare Theorem, and 21 Bridges. Through the combined storytelling of Waugh and Mervis, National Champions is easily one of the best and most compelling sports films of 2021.