A24. Lakeith Stanfield. Kwame Onwuachi. What do all these excellent people / production companies have in common? Variety broke the news yesterday that Stanfield (who you should know from his killer roles in Sorry to Bother You, Get Out or Atlanta) is set to star in a movie based off of Chef Onwuachi’s memoir, Notes From a Young Black Chef, and financed by indie hitmaker A24. Even with no director attached (as of right now at least), the news is a heady combination of local greatness and Hollywood glamour. If the Michelin Guide made D.C.’s food scene real to food snobs, a movie like this can (at the very least) make it real to film snobs.
And yet, D.C. is jam packed with people who deserve their time in the spotlight too. Besides Chef Onwuachi (whose food we’ve been raving about since Kith & Kin opened), here are some other local heroes who should get their own movies. They all deserve it.
José Andrés, President of ThinkFoodGroup / World Central Kitchen
It’s an obvious pick, but considering Andrés has a great book of his own and is, along with Onwuachi, one of the most visible chefs in D.C., it fits. I see Andrés film as a slick and heartwarming documentary about a group of hard working people (AKA World Central Kitchen) coming together to make a difference in other people’s lives. Maybe directed by someone with an investigative (but captivating) eye like Gabriela Cowperthwaite (who made Blackfish) or someone who knows how to imbue a lot of heart into a doc (and is already a well known name in the food documentary space) like Laura Gabbert (City of Gold).
Sunyatta Amen, Owner of Calabash Tea & Tonic
From her beginnings as a shop kid in her parents apothecary to thriving with her own local tea and tonic business (Calabash just expanded to its second location), Sunyatta Amen’s story is more than worthy of being on the big screen. Known as the head witch of Calabash, I see Amen’s film should be filled to the brim with charisma and humor (like the woman herself). Maybe I’m too stuck on the witch thing, but I could see Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story) writing something fun and addicting.
Robin Bell, Artist
If you’ve been paying attention to art, politics or any local news this year, you know about Robin Bell. The artist is famous for projecting phrases like “There is a rapist in the White House,” “Axis of idiots” and “Pay Trump bribes here” on the walls of the Trump Hotel, but he’s also VJ’s many a BYT event. For Bell’s movie, I can imagine a funny, weird and still deeply political film by someone like Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line).
Caroline Phillips, Founder of the National Cannabis Festival
Called the “Queen of Cannabis” by the Washington Post, Phillips founded and produces D.C.’s very own National Cannabis Festival. It would be easy to see Phillips’ story (which you can read more about here) directed by someone like Kevin Smith or the folks behind High Maintenance, but I would love to see Paul Thomas Anderson bring some of his Inherent Vice weirdness to this one.
The Gray Family
Considering Jamal Gray‘s deep rooted history in D.C.’s music scene (you can read all about his father’s record label and how it relates to his band Nag Champa here), a movie about the Gray family would be a great opportunity to create a multigenerational biopic that covers a slice of D.C.’s music history. A film by Taylor Hackford (who directed Ray) or James Mangold (Walk the Line) would have us running to the theater.