Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Giving a Holler to the Hyphen

The title Speed Dating has been claimed in recent years by a 2004 PAX Television reality show, a 2005 short, a 2007 full-length Irish feature, three more shorts that same year and another in 2009. Which explains why the makers of a new full-length independent romantic comedy screening Thursday, July 29th at the Roxbury International Film Festival chose to go with the hyphenated variation of Speed-Dating.

Another unusual aspect of the film is that after a brief, $6,000 single-screen theatrical run last month in Chicago, Speed-Dating will, post-Roxbury, be following a much more leisurely timetable than that of its main subject matter, as it is not scheduled to return to theaters in Chicago and at least a half-dozen other regional markets including Houston and Atlanta until October 1st.

The Roxbury event, now in its 12th year, is designed to showcase works by "filmmakers of color." As is Los Angeles' Pan African Film and Arts Festival, where Speed-Dating kicked things off with an Audience Award in February. (Strangely, at press time, the PAFF website has been hacked.)

And the hyphen is down there

In between these two ethnically focused festivals, Speed-Dating was picked up in April for theatrical distribution by the new L.A. based firm Rockstone Releasing. The company was founded in 2009 by the heavyweight husband-and-wife team of Camille Irons, a former production executive for Russell Simmons and Tracy Edmonds, and H. M. Coakley, once a programming head with Film Independent.

Written and directed by first-timer Joseph A. Elmore, Speed-Dating is the story of three African-American bachelors who decide that a speed-dating operation is the best way to raise funds for their club and meet women. Former Late Show contributor Chris Elliott stars as the city inspector who refuses to give them a liquor license, alongside other notable cast members such as Clint Howard, Holly Robinson Peete and rapper Chingy.

One clever element of the grassroots marketing campaign for Speed-Dating is the series of upcoming HurryDate events being put on in partnership with online dating site BlackSingles.com. Beginning at ONE Sunset in West Hollywood on July 30th, these real-life speed dating events will spread the word and allow participants to meet select members of the cast.


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