The BFI London Film Festival is scheduled to take place in October this year, and the opening film for the prestigious festival has already been announced. Directed by British singer-songwriter Jeymes Samuel, who goes by the stage name of The Bullitts, The Harder They Fall is an upcoming western which will be available for streaming on Netflix as well.
Samuel’s debut feature will have a truly stellar cast, starring Regina King as well as Atlanta stars Zazie Beetz and Lakeith Stanfield. Idris Elba will take on the role of Rufus Buck from the infamous gang who went on a crime spree in the late 19th century. Although Cynthia Erivo and Wesley Snipes were initially cast for The Harder They Fall, they had to pull out due to the pandemic.
In an interview, the director revealed the significance of having his film featured at the London Film Festival: “Growing up in the UK, the festival has always been the highlight of my year and I couldn’t have imagined anything better than to have my debut film included in this year’s lineup.”
Samuel also spoke about his intentions to create a Black western: “I really, really loved westerns, but I would just see a really clear inconsistency with the portrayals of people of colour, basically in the Old West and being such a fan of actors like Woody Strode, who was amazing in Spartacus but then you’ll see him pop up in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and he couldn’t get a drink in the bar.
“I just grew up wanting to know more about people of colour and women and all of these ideas of the Old West that I was not getting from the Hollywood movies. And so I would just buy books and would…uncover amazing characters — both heroes and villains, both men and women of all colours.”
Adding, “I believe that The Harder They Fall fits firmly in the Western [canon], because the Western, when Hollywood was doing it, was fresh. The choice of music they would use, it was fresh at the time. It wasn’t actually cowboy music. So, it’s a perfect addition to the genre and brings it into 2021 and forward.”