Chevalier Film Set to Open 2023 Pan African Film & Arts Festival
Historical Drama About the Life of French Black Violinist-Composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
The Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF) announced today that CHEVALIER will open its 31st film festival in Los Angeles on Feb. 9, 2023, at the Directors Guild of America. The star-studded red carpet gala will be hosted by NFL-Pro turned actor Thomas Q. Jones (“P-Valley”), the Festival’s 2023 Celebrity Host.
Inspired by the incredible story of composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. The son of an enslaved African woman and a French plantation owner, Bologne (Kelvin Harrison Jr. in a tour de force performance) rises to improbable heights in French society as a celebrated violinist-composer and fencer, complete with an ill-fated love affair and a falling out with Marie Antoinette (Lucy Boynton) herself and her court.
CHEVALIER is directed by Stephen Williams and stars Kelvin Harrison Jr., Samara Weaving, and Lucy Boynton. The film is written by Stefani Robinson and features music by Kris Bowers.
Set in 18th Century France, CHEVALIER unfolds the vivid, timely story of the soaring rise and defiant spirit of the musical phenomenon, Joseph Bologne, aka the Chevalier de Saint-Georges. The Chevalier was what we would call today a superstar—a blinding multi-talent at the top of several games: he was a virtuoso violinist who gave packed concerts; a champion swordsman; an ingenious composer; and, for a time, one of the most alluring, unexpected members of Marie Antoinette’s glittering court.
Historians have long struggled to document Bologne’s life. With his papers and his music destroyed in Napoleonic times, little is known of his inner experiences moving in the sphere of the elites. Director Stephen Williams (“Watchmen”) and screenwriter Stefani Robinson (“Atlanta”) aimed to give Bologne a fresh, contemporary life on screen. With many of the details imagined based on extensive research of the period, CHEVALIER is a buoyant and aspiring vision of a man driven to create and to truly be who he was, no matter the expectations put upon him, or the dreams forbidden to those like him.
For Kelvin Harrison Jr. (Luce, Monsters and Men) – who studied violin for 7 hours daily to embody the title role—the Chevalier felt incredibly modern, especially the way he moves so fluidly between the worlds of music, sport, and ultimately the fight for justice. “I felt I could understand him as a Black artist. His path reflects how we all struggle to find the spaces where we can be seen and heard,” Harrison says. “This story asks big questions about art and equality and why so many Black artists have been erased, but it’s also a beautiful celebration of the Chevalier’s life.”
Tickets to the Opening Night red carpet gala are on sale at paff.org.
About the Pan African Film & Arts Festival
Established in 1992 by Hollywood veterans Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Lethal Weapon), the late Ja’Net DuBois (“Good Times”), and Ayuko Babu (Executive Director), the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has remained dedicated to the promotion of Black stories and images through the exhibition of film, visual art, and other creative expression. PAFF is one of the largest and most prestigious Black film festivals in the U.S. and attracts local, national, and international audiences. In addition, it is an Oscar-qualifying festival for animation and live-action films, and one of the largest Black History Month events in America. For more information, please visit paff.org. About Searchlight Pictures Searchlight Pictures is a global specialty film company that develops, produces, finances and acquires motion pictures for both worldwide theatrical and streaming releases. It has its own marketing and distribution operations, and is part of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company. For more, visit searchlightpictures.com