Gospel Hill (2009)

When a corporation comes to a Southern town to bulldoze an historic African American neighborhood, there is a confrontation between a former sheriff with past sins and an ex-civil rights worker whose brother was murdered 40 years before.

Genre – Drama

Director(s) – Giancarlo Esposito

Writer(s) – Giancarlo Esposito, Jeffrey Pratt Gordon, Jeff Stacey and Terrell Tannen

Cast – Danny Glover, Giancarlo Esposito, Angela Bassett, Julia Stiles, Adam Baldwin, Nia Long, Tom Bower, Taylor Kitsch and Samuel L. Jackson

Blue Rider’s Role – Arranged bridge financing

Distributor(s) – Twentieth Century Fox (US Theatrical and DVD) and MG Film (Croatia)

Release Date – 2009

Synopsis – In the Southern town of Julia, residents of the black neighborhood of Gospel Hill are being forced out of their homes to make way for a multimillion-dollar golf course development.
Race relations are strained just as they were 40 years before, when Peter Malcolm, a black civil rights activist (Samuel L. Jackson), was assassinated. Dr. Ron Palmer (Giancarlo Esposito), an influential black community leader who runs the emergency clinic in Gospel Hill, is supporting the golf course development and helping to push people off their land.

Peter Malcolm’s son, John Malcolm (Danny Glover), withdrew from the community and the fight for civil rights after his father’s assassination, haunted by feelings of hatred for Jack Herrod (Tom Bower). Herrod, the town’s bigoted, ex-sheriff, was responsible for letting the investigation of Peter’s murder dissipate, without anyone being charged. Meanwhile, Sarah Malcolm (Angela Bassett), John’s wife, battles Dr. Palmer and reveals his greedy profiteering to the whole town.

Jack’s sons are Carl Herrod (Adam Baldwin), an iconoclastic lawyer, who is having an affair with the doctor’s wife (Nia Long), and Joel Herrod (Taylor Kitsch), who has tried to distance himself from his father’s reputation. Joel has a struggling landscaping business that flourishes when he begins to work for Dr. Palmer, but when he falls in love with Rosie (Julia Stiles), a school teacher helping Sarah fight Palmer, the conflict of interest becomes too great to ignore.

These characters’ lives intertwine as Dr. Palmer obtains real estate and pushes the development seeking they city’s approval; Sarah struggles to get John involved as she fights to expose the doctor; Joel deals with his father’s increasing animosity; Jack Herrod, discovering he is terminally ill, has secretly reopened the case of Peter Malcolm’s murder; and John Malcolm begins to realize that the fight for equality didn’t die with his brother–that it continues in every breath the town takes, and he knows that if Sarah continues to stir the hornet’s nest that the town of Julia has become, he will be thrust into the position he shared with his brother 40 years ago.

Gospel Hill Flyer

Internet Movie Database page on Gospel Hilltrailer

Critics’ Quotes
” It holds dramatic value, especially with a seriously talented cast. Giancarlo Esposito writes and directs and co-stars as a black baddie in the story, and perhaps some of his early judgements are clouded by pressure. The elements of social injustice, racial tension and character conflicts make the film engaging enough.And that’s not counting the great blues cues on the The mood and the tension build nicely, and the cast do a great job. The film improves as it goes along, drawing us into the characters and the story. It reaches its emotional and dramatic climax before the end, when a quite but intense meeting between three damaged characters reveals the heart of the story, demonstrating the banality of many misdeeds.

Excellent performances from the leads and supports, notably Danny Glover, Julia Stiles and Angela Basset, and well structured storytelling with flashbacks propelling the emotional arc of the story make for a satisfying film.”
–Andrew L. Urban, Urban Cinefile
Awards and Major People
Awards: Best picture, Nashville Film Festival; best of fest, FT. Lauderdale Intl. Film Festival
Director/producer: Giancarlo Esposito (11 acting awards and 11 noms for works including The Usual Suspects, Breaking Bad, Fresh, Homicide: Life on the Street and Revolution).
Actors: Angela Bassett (29 wins and 53 more noms for works including What’s Love Got to Do Wirh It?, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Akeelah and the Bee, Sunshine State, Boesman and Lena and ER), Adam Baldwin (best actor nom for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), Danny Glover (23 wins and 42 other noms for works such as Mandela, Freedom’s Song, To Sleep With Anger, Beloved, Queen, Lethal Weapon and Dreamgirls), Samuel L. Jackson (35 wins and 81 noms for works including Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, The Hateful Eight, Eve’s Bayou, Django Unchained and Jungle Fever; highest grossing actor of all time, through 2015), Nia Long (seven wins and 13 noms for such works as The Best Man, Third Watch, Alfie, Love Jones and The Best Man Holiday) and Julia Stiles (14 wins and 18 noms for such works as Silver Linings Playbook, Dexter, State and Main and 10 things I Hate About You).
Executive producers: Simon Horsman, Michael Judd, Charlotte Koh, Ronald Kolman, Spencer Longmore, Adam Betteridge, Christopher Mallick, Stephen Margolis (won Leo award for 50 Dead Men Walking), Andreas Olivarria, Michael Parness (three best feature wins for My Suicidal Sweetheart), David Rogers and Mark K. Sullivan.
Production designer: Jim Gloster (three Emmy noms three Art Directors Guild noms and a win for Veep and another ADG win and nomination).

Netflix recommends to is millions of worldwide subscribers the drama GOSPEL HILL, on which Blue Rider was the bridge financier. It stars Giancarlo Esposito, Danny Glover, Angela Bassett, Nia Long, Julia Stles and Samuel L. Jackson. Netflix writes: “In a small Southern town, the longstanding residents of the Gospel Hill neighborhood are being forced out of their homes to make way for a pricey housing development, pushing race relations to explosive heights in this gripping drama. Meanwhile, the mystery behind the decades-old murder of civil rights pioneer Peter Malcolm haunts his son (Danny Glover) and the ex-sheriff (Tom Bower) who deliberately botched the investigation.” This film is recommended in the categories MYSTERY, SOCIAL ISSUE DRAMAS, DRAMAS and AFRICAN AMERICAN DRAMAS.