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  • Dir. George C. Wolfe
  • USA
  • 2020
  • 94 min.
  • R
  • DCP
  • Assistive Listening
  • Hearing Loop


Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey (Academy Award® winner Viola Davis). Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. As the band waits in the studio’s claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman) — who has an eye for Ma’s girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry — spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories, truths and lies that will forever change the course of their lives.

Adapted from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play, MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM celebrates the transformative power of the blues and the artists who refuse to let society’s prejudices dictate their worth. Directed by George C. Wolfe and adapted for the screen by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the film is produced by FENCES Oscar® nominees Denzel Washington and Todd Black. Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, Michael Potts, Taylour Paige and Dusan Brown co-star — alongside Grammy® winner Branford Marsalis’ score.

“While there is plenty to praise in MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM, the primary topic of conversation will be focused on [Viola] Davis and [Chadwick] Boseman's performances…It will undoubtedly be a fitting bookend to Boseman's brief but wondrous career, and one he more than deserves.” —Allie Gemmill, Collider

“Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman bring down the house. Praise is stupendous for George C. Wolfe's August Wilson adaptation, with Boseman and Davis now shoo-ins for acting honors next year.” —Ryan Lattanzio, IndieWire

“After a summer of racial reckoning for the country, [playwright August] Wilson’s tragic story of Black Americans navigating a rigged system has become only more relevant…To [Viola] Davis, that is what remains so meaningful about Wilson’s work, where everyday Black people were finally afforded the scale and specificity to become the sort of tragic heroes who were long embodied by white men in theater.” —Kyle Buchanan, New York Times

The Belcourt Theatre does not provide advisories about subject matter or potential triggering content, as sensitivities vary from person to person.

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