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TIFF 2019: First Audience Reactions Are In For Kasi Lemmons’ ‘Harriet’


Kasi Lemmons“Harriet” world premiered at Toronto International Film Festival Tuesday evening. The film follows the unforgettable true story of Harriet Tubman (“Widows”‘ Cynthia Erivo) as she escaped from slavery and became one of history’s greatest freedom fighters. Tubman went on to free hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad during pre-Civil War. Her story comes to life on screen as the film debuted in Toronto.

Lemmons directs her fifth feature with “Harriet.” She writes the screenplay with Gregory Allen Howard. Lemmon’s past projects include “Black Nativity,” “The Caveman’s Valentine” and the biopic “Talk to Me,” starring Don Cheadle. Lemmons’ directorial debut was with “Eve’s Bayou,” a drama she wrote for Trimark Pictures in 1997. Through the ’80s and ’90s, Lemmons also starred in roles for “Silence of the Lambs,” “Candyman” and “Hard Target.” She directs rising British star Cynthia Erivo in a role audiences are calling “the real deal.” Some attendees are reacting and engaging more with Erivo’s performance rather than the narrative at stake. Others are finding it to be an incredible biopic. The early consensus reads mixed reactions.

4130 D002 00002 RC Erivo was seen last year in supporting roles in Steve McQueen’s “Widows” and Drew Goddard’s “Bad Times at the El Royale.” She was nominated at the 2019 BAFTAs for the EE Rising Star Award. Also starring in the film with Erivo are Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monáe, Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles and Clarke Peters.

Read some of the first audience reactions for Lemmons’ latest out of TIFF:

“Harriet” is produced by Martin Chase Productions, New Balloon and Stay Gold Features. It is distributed by Focus Features and releases in theaters November 1. It is also set to screen at Mill Valley Film Festival October 5.

What do you think of the first reactions for “Harriet” out of TIFF? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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Written by Jessica Peña

Jessica Peña studied journalism at Volunteer State Community College before she began writing about film on a personal blog that sprouted from an electronic media course. She is now a film journalist for Awards Circuit, as well as a content editor and writer for the UK-based site JumpCut Online. She also loves the Child's Play/Chucky franchise with no end in sight.


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