HBO has greenlit “Storm Over Brooklyn,” from Muta’Ali (pictured), and which was the winner of a new initiative to promote diversity in feature documentaries. The project will tell the story of Yusuf Hawkins, a black teenager who was shot and murdered in 1989 after being trapped by a group of white youths in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
Muta’Ali’s film will explore a crime that shocked New York and the wider U.S. Hawkins’ murder led to marches and protests that contributed to the ousting of New York City Mayor Ed Koch in favour of David Dinkins, who became the city’s first — and as of now, only — African American mayor.
“Yusuf Hawkins’ murder had a major effect on the public, and the locked away regret and sorrow questions a history that those involved have held onto for nearly 30 years,” Muta’Ali said. “We will finally see the light of day in the context of our time.”
“Storm Over Brooklyn” won a new feature documentary initiative created by U.K. and U.S.-based “LA 92” producer Lightbox, and the American Black Film Festival. It is open to African-American filmmakers and those interested in exploring non-fiction stories that speak to the African-American experience. Lightbox and ABFF develop and produce the projects with the winning filmmakers.
HBO has sponsored categories at ABFF’s awards and worked with the organization on talent initiatives. Founder and CEO Jeff Friday said the push into feature documentaries was a natural extension of their work together. “Expanding into the documentary space and production is a very exciting opportunity for ABFF and the filmmakers who come through our talent pipeline programs,” he said. “We could not have wished for a more fitting home than HBO.”
Friday, Lightbox’s Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn, and “LA 92” directors Daniel Lindsay and TJ Martin will executive produce “Storm Over Brooklyn.”