Russell Simmons to produce ‘Romeo Is Bleeding’

“Romeo Is Bleeding” has won a number of awards at high profile film festivals including Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Romeo Is BleedingAll Def Digital, the leading media company for youth culture rooted in hip hop, and Russell Simmons have partnered with editor Jason Zeldes to executive produce Zeldes’ documentary feature directorial debut “Romeo Is Bleeding.”

The documentary explores the power of spoken word poetry to save and elevate youth, in one of the most violent suburbs of the country. The Film Collaborative will release the documentary in select theaters beginning July 28.  

The announcement was jointly made today by Sanjay Sharma, President and CEO of All Def Digital, and the doc’s producer Michael Klein of Circadian Pictures.  

“This is a powerful and provocative film that could not be more timely, or timeless. It carries a critical message about the power of the written – and spoken – word to save and transform individuals and communities,” said Simmons.  “As funding for the arts, the youth, and community services continues to get slashed, Romeo Is Bleeding and its star show us the importance of the arts in our lives and how one person can make a huge difference in even the most hardened of communities.” Simmons, known widely as the founder of iconic hip hop brands such as Def Jam Records and Phat Farm, also brought spoken word to the forefront of artistic culture through nearly a decade of Def Poetry Jam on HBO.  He also received a Tony Award for Brave New Voices, a spoken word inspired play on Broadway.

 “Romeo Is Bleeding” has won a number of awards at high profile film festivals including Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the San Francisco International Film Festival, Audience Award Best Documentary at the Aspen Film Fest, Best Documentary Feature at the Napa Valley Film Festival and many more.

With Donté Clark’s evocative and stirring street poetry serving as a backdrop, it captures the community tensions, violence and heartbreak that haunt neighborhoods like Richmond, California across the country (and around the world). As Donté leads a cast of high school students in an effort to mount a fresh adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet,” the film uses the Bard’s classic to delve deeper into the contemporary socio-economic issues that drive the violence in their city. As the play comes together on the stage, real life begins to parallel the Shakespearean tragedy. Pushed to his limits, Donté must decide if he is capable of being the leader that Richmond’s youth wants and needs him to be.

“When I met Donté, I knew this would be the story, subject and mission behind my first film.  His personal story and his ability to take a timeless tale and transform it into a tool to teach and redeem a group of kids was profoundly inspirational, and necessary in a time when communities are hurting, tensions are rising, and hope seems fleeting,” said Zeldes.

In addition to its theatrical release, “Romeo is Bleeding” will also be available via VOD as well as DVD and BluRay on August 1st.

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