Sundance ’15 | Rick Famuyiwa



One of the films that is generating considerable buzz is the latest from writer/director Rick Famuyiwa. The antithesis of Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good Day,” Dope flips the traditional urban hood story with a unique twist.

Partly inspired by Famuyiwa’s own upbringing in Inglewood, Dope follows Moore and a cast of promising young actors through The Bottoms, one of the town’s tougher areas. Famuyiwa calls the film a “sort of homage” to indie directors like Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson whose “personal, character-driven aesthetic” shaped his cinematic voice.

“The main character, Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is a Nineties hip-hop geek,” Famuyiwa says of Dope‘s protagonist, a modern-day teen who lives in Inglewood, Calif. “He isn’t a drug dealer or a gang banger. He’s into all types of music, and video games and computers. We’ve seen a lot of films about everything else in these neighborhoods—the crime, the athletes, the gangs—but you don’t see films about the regular kids who have to survive in these streets.”

Check out the trailer for DOPE

The 41-year old filmmaker of Nigerian descent, Famuyiwa’s films mainly explore themes of racial diversity and acceptance of oneself and others, especially within communities of color. His impressive canon of storytelling includes stories such as The Wood, Talk To Me, Brown Sugar and Our Family Wedding. In the majority of Famuyiwa’s films, friendship plays a central role to the characters’ development and progression throughout the film. Additionally, thus far, nearly all of Famuyiwa’s feature films have dealt with the institution of marriage in one form or another. It is helpful to note also that Rick Famuyiwa’s upbringing in the racially eclectic Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood has had a tremendous impact on his cinematic works and point of view as both an individual and artist. Famuyiwa is known for producing quality stories which include .

A graduate of University of Southern California (USC) and has Bachelor of Arts degrees in Cinematic Arts Film & Television Production and Cinematic Arts Critical Studies, Famuyiwa is a member of the Director’s Guild of America and it is his passion to make African-Americans a greater, more respected part of the cinema industry.

Famuyiwa discusses his film below: