Review: Roman J. Israel, esq – Symposium & Discussion


Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a dramatic thriller set in the underbelly of the overburdened Los Angeles criminal court system. Denzel Washington stars as a driven, idealistic defense attorney whose life is upended when a turbulent series of events challenge the activism that has defined his career. Colin Farrell costars as the ambitious, monied lawyer who recruits Roman to his firm.

[Leimert Park, CA]  Known as the cultural heartbeat of the African-American community Leimert Park was full of energy as SONY Pictures, the African-American Film Critics Association and the Urban Issues Forum hosted a symposium and discussion on the upcoming movie Roman J. Israel, esg.  Last night a standing room only crowd squeezed in the iconic Regency West supper club to hear first hand why this movie is a must-see.

“You have lots of great civil rights attorney’s but they are not the same as civil rights activist.”  Jasmyne Cannick.

Led by AAFCA president Gil Robertson the panel was allowed to stretch out and gave great examples of current day activism in Los Angeles.  The panelists were social critic and political commentator Jasmyne Cannick;  the film’s director and producer Dan Gilroy; Professor of African-American studies and noted historian of activism in Los Angeles, Dr. Anthony Samad and noted community activist attorney Nana Gyamfi.

Asked about what motivated him to create the film, director Gilroy stated he is a “child of the 60’s” who grew up in a very liberal-minded family.  He noted the impact of the civil rights movement and how he came to appreciate the activist attorney’s who worked during that period even up until now.  “The issues never stop,” mentioned Gilroy.  He spoke how the character portrayed in the movie had a unique personality and once he showed the screen play to lead actor Denzel Washington the rest is history.  Washington played a critical role in developing the film and once the movie “Fences” was completed he gave his full energy in helping Gilroy bring the movie to the big screen.  Screening is set with a special engagement on November 17th in Los Angeles and New York.

The film is set in Los Angeles during the ’70’s and is one you will enjoy.  Coincidently, coming out of the civil rights movement many students moving on to college were motivated to study law.  A good crop were led to become proficient as “people’s law” attorney’s with the aspiration to bring justice to all of those who were underserved or victims of the criminal justice system.  Like the movie character Israel, they weren’t the most flashy in appearance but were extraordinary in understanding the law and how it could benefit the clients who sought them out.  Israel’s character also reminds you of the work such as James Bell who has built a stellar legal career dealing with the injustices of youth.

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