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Movie Detail
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Antwone Fisher
Alternate Title: Finding Fish
Director: Denzel Washington (Dir)
Release Date:   20 Dec 2002
Premiere Information:   World premiere at the Toronto Film Festival: 12 Sep 2002; Los Angeles opening at the AFI Fest: 7 Nov 2002
Production Date:   began 3 Oct 2001
Duration (in mins):   117 or 120
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Cast:   Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher)  
    Malcolm David Kelley (Antwone Fisher, age 7)  
    Cory Hodges (Antwone Fisher, age 14)  
    Denzel Washington (Jerome Davenport)  
    Joy Bryant (Cheryl [Smolley])  
    Salli Richardson (Berta [Davenport])  
    Leonard Earl Howze (Pork Chop)  
    Kenté Scott (Kansas City)  
    Kevin Connolly (Slim)  
    Rainoldo Gooding (Grayson)  
    Novella Nelson (Mrs. Tate)  
    Stephen Snedden (Berkley)  
    Leo Nepomuceno (SP #1)  
    Sung Kang (Receptionist)  
    Cordell Stokes (Keith, age 5)  
    Ellis E. Williams (Reverend Tate)  
    Timothy Reddick (Dwight, age 8)  
    Yolonda Ross (Nadine)  
    De'Angelo K. Wilson (Jesse, age 19)  
    Jascha Washington (Jesse, age 8)  
    Vernée Watson Johnson (Annette [Elkins])  
    Viola Davis (Eva [Mae Fisher])  
    Earl Billings (James [Elkins])  
    Margaret Ford-Taylor (Eda)  
    Bob Banks (Horace)  
    Jada S. Louie (Jeannette)  
    Rebecca Morris (Anna)  
    Brandon Biggins (Eddie)  
    Brandon Lewis (Ray)  
    Eddie Baccus (Blind piano player)  
    David Fowler (Chief master-at-arms)  
    Sean'e La'Dae (Edward)  
    Linda Cevallos (Sexy woman)  
    O. L. Duke (Uncle Duke)  
    Charlie Robinson (Howard [Davenport])  
    Michelle Davison (Johnny Mae [Davenport])  
    Fran Dorsey (Owner)  
    Ruth Stehle (Snide clerk)  
    John Pittman Jr. (Another clerk)  
    Lissy Gulick (Mona)  
    Edward C. Reynolds III (Man)  
    André Patton (Kenny)  
    Rita Pearson (Cashier)  
    Janaya Reynolds (Young girl #1)  
    Na'tasha Marie Evans (Young girl #2)  
    Doug Jewell (Spinoza)  
    Lynn E. Charles (Spinoza's wife)  
    Jason Dixon (Jason)  
    Mary Bradley Marable (Older lady)  
    Teresa Hoefke (Case worker)  
    Angela Gillespie-Winborn (Woman in white)  
    Kim Johnson (Disc jockey)  
    James Brolin (Commanding officer)  
    Jenifer Lewis (Gwen)  

Summary: Twenty-four-year-old Antwone Fisher, stationed at the Naval base in Coronado, California, often loses his temper and fights with his fellow seamen. After his latest brawl, the African-American Antwone defends himself by stating that his opponent made a racial slur, but is still sentenced to reduced pay and a demotion, and is also ordered to be evaluated at the Naval psychiatric facility. Antwone reluctantly sees psychiatrist Commander Jerome Davenport, who is bemused by the dichotomy between Antwone’s belligerence and shyness. Intrigued by Antwone’s statement that he is “from under a rock,” Davenport orders him to return the following week. Taking advantage of his liberty from the ship, Antwone goes to the base exchange to see Cheryl Smolley, a fellow Naval recruit with whom he is smitten. Despite her own shyness, Cheryl attempts to tease Antwone into a conversation, but the tongue-tied young man leaves quickly. Two weeks later, Davenport has Antwone forcibly brought to his office, as he had not reported for their meeting. Davenport explains to the angry seaman that he has only three sessions in which to evaluate him and make a recommendation to his commanding officer, who wants Antwone dismissed from the Navy. Declaring that there is nothing wrong with him, Antwone refuses to talk, and so Davenport orders him to attend weekly sessions until he does. For several weeks, Antwone sits in silence while Davenport catches up on his paperwork. Finally, Antwone begins to speak, soon revealing that he never knew his father, who was murdered two months before he was born. His mother was in prison when he was born, and Antwone was put in an orphanage for two years. Eventually, Antwone was placed in the Cleveland foster home of Reverend and Mrs. Tate, an older African-American couple who also fostered young Dwight and Keith, who was favored because he was half white. Antwone describes the incessant physical and emotional abuse heaped upon the children by Mrs. Tate, who called them “nigger” so often that they could tell which child she was calling by how she said the word. Antwone cannot control the pain in his voice upon describing how Mrs. Tate bragged about beating him unconscious when he was eight years old, and Davenport begins to sympathize with his patient. During their next session, Antwone tells Davenport about his best friend Jesse, a devil-may-care boy whom Mrs. Tate detested. One day, when Jesse came to call for Antwone, Mrs. Tate began to berate Antwone, but the by then teenaged boy, unable to endure her tyranny, grabbed the shoe with which she was beating him, and she threw him out. Hoping to help Antwone understand the Tates’s ambiguous feelings about their own race, Davenport gives him a book about slavery, explaining how generations of African-American slaves passed on to their children the poor treatment they had received from their masters. Despite his initial skepticism, Antwone finds himself responding to Davenport’s gentle questioning and so is distraught at the end of their third session, when Davenport states that he can no longer see him, although he will recommend that Antwone be allowed to remain in the Navy. Overwhelmed by the release of feelings he had kept locked inside, Antwone begins fighting again, and one day, shows up at Davenport’s office, where he yells at the waiting patients. Drawn to helping Antwone, Davenport offers to see him on his own time, and they begin their sessions again. Antwone is amazed one afternoon when Cheryl asks him out, and after receiving encouragement from Davenport, has a successful first date with her. Thrilled that Cheryl kissed him, Antwone dashes to Davenport’s house to tell him, and the commander’s wife Berta, with whom Davenport has a strained relationship, caustically tells her husband not to cure the young man of his enthusiasm. All goes well for Antwone until his ship makes a routine tour of Mexico, where one night, he and his buddies visit a nightclub. There, Antwone’s frequent tormentor, Grayson, taunts him for not wanting to dance, implying that he is either a virgin or a homosexual. After the ensuing brawl, Antwone is returned to Coronado, where Davenport questions him in the brig. Antwone confides that he is a virgin, then reveals that as a young child, he was repeatedly sexually molested by Nadine, a predatory older girl also staying with the Tates. Later, Antwone stops by the Davenport home to see the commander and charms Berta with his honesty and politeness. Berta insists that Antwone attend their Thanksgiving dinner, at which Antwone experiences his first family holiday. In gratitude Antwone gives Davenport a moving poem, “Who Will Cry for the Little Boy?”, and a deeply touched Berta realizes how much Antwone means to her husband. Soon after, however, Davenport is forced to tell Antwone that it is time for him to move on, as he must now take charge of his recovery himself. An infuriated Antwone lashes out, yelling that everyone in his life has abandoned him, even Jesse, and reveals to Davenport that rather than simply losing touch with Jesse, as he had said earlier, he was an innocent bystander when Jesse was shot while robbing a convenience store. After finally being able to admit his anger toward Jesse, Antwone realizes that Davenport is also right about his need to find his real family. Asking Cheryl to accompany him, Antwone returns to Cleveland, but receives little help from social services. Cheryl then encourages Antwone to question Mrs. Tate. Antwone goes to the Tate home, where he castigates Nadine and Mrs. Tate for their abuse, then defiantly declares that he is still standing strong. After Mrs. Tate tells Antwone that his father’s name was Edward Elkins, Antwone and Cheryl begin calling all the Elkinses in the Cleveland phone book. Late that night, a confused Annette Elkins receives a call from Antwone, and after he relates his story, tearfully tells him that she may be his "auntie." The next morning, Antwone and Cheryl go to Annette’s home, and there meet her, his uncle James and another uncle, none of whom knew of his existence. James realizes that Antwone’s mother is Eva Mae Fisher, the sister of a friend, and takes him to meet her. Antwone is dismayed by his mother’s tenement home, while she is too overwhelmed by his sudden appearance to speak. Antwone tells her that he is a good man, of many accomplishments, and after kissing her on the cheek, leaves with forgiveness in his heart. Upon his arrival back at the Elkins home, Antwone is stunned to be proudly welcomed by his many relatives, who have prepared a feast for him. When he returns to Coronado, Antwone cheerfully informs Davenport that he is not a virgin any longer, and tells him that he was right about seeking out his family. In turn, Davenport relates that when he and his wife discovered they could not have children, he obtained the best psychiatric help for Berta, but he shut down emotionally. It was not until Antwone entered his life that Davenport came alive again, and the commander thanks Antwone, his surrogate son, for helping him become a better doctor and husband. 

Production Company: Antwone Fisher Productions, Inc.  
  Fox Searchlight Pictures (A News Corporation Company)
Production Text: A Mundy Lane/Todd Black Production; A Denzel Washington Film
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (A News Corporation Company)
Director: Denzel Washington (Dir)
  Randy Fletcher (1st asst dir)
  Don Wilkerson (2d asst dir)
  Hope Goodwin (2d 2d asst dir)
  Brenda Garcia (Addl 2d 2d asst dir)
  Karen Davis (2d 2d asst dir, Cleveland unit)
Producer: Todd Black (Prod)
  Randa Haines (Prod)
  Denzel Washington (Prod)
  Nancy Paloian-Breznikar (Exec prod)
  Antwone Fisher (Co-prod)
  Chris Smith (Co-prod)
  Gina White (Assoc prod)
Writer: Antwone Fisher (Wrt)
Photography: Philippe Rousselot (Dir of photog)
  Neal Norton (Cam op/Steadicam op)
  Tony Nagy (1st asst cam)
  Don Duffield III (2d asst cam)
  Renee Shuyten (Cam loader)
  William Keily Cronin (Cam loader, Cleveland unit)
  Pamela Rittelmeyer (B cam op)
  Xiomara Comrie (B cam 1st AC)
  Rod Sandoval (B cam 2d AC)
  Sidney R. Baldwin (Still photog)
  Jack English (Gaffer)
  James Babineaux (Best boy elec)
  Stephen Thorp (Elec)
  Glenn Moran (Elec)
  Erik A. Erichsen (Elec)
  Michael Walsh (Elec)
  Chris B. Shaw (Elec)
  Julie Ann Lindstrom (Elec, Cleveland unit)
  Jeff Fisher (Elec, Cleveland unit)
  Lester Parker (Elec, Cleveland unit)
  Stuart M. Abramson (Key grip)
  Marc Leeger (Best boy grip)
  Arnaud Peiny (Key rigging grip)
  Jason Newton (Dolly grip)
  Seth Greenwald (B cam dolly grip)
  Keith P. Nickoson (B cam dolly grip, Cleveland unit)
  Cameron Thorburn (Company grip)
  Rick Linkowski (Company grip)
  Joseph 'Jo Jo' Presson (Company grip)
  Joel A. Ruiz (Rigging grip)
  Greg Flores (Rigging grip)
  Billy Beaird (Rigging grip)
  Joe Cassano (Grip, Cleveland unit)
  Russ Faust (Grip, Cleveland unit)
  Thomas Diehl (Libra head tech)
  Gregory T. Schmidt (Libra head op)
  Damon Degrignon (Technocrane tech)
  Kevin P. Boyd (Video asst)
  Lou Sumien Jr. (Projectionist)
  Westcam Incorporated (Westcam system provided by)
  Dave Norris ([Westcam] op)
  Gary LaMantia ([Westcam] tech)
  TM Equipment Rentals, Inc. (Lighting and elec equipment supplied by)
  Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment, Inc. (Cranes and dollies)
Art Direction: Nelson Coates (Prod des)
  David S. Lazan (Art dir)
  Warren Drummond (Storyboard artist)
  Laura J. DeRosa (Des dept coord)
  Al Lewis (Art dept asst)
  Heather Hudson (Art dept asst, Cleveland unit)
  Carolyn Bishop (Des dept PA)
  Michael Dudiak (Des dept asst, Cleveland unit)
  James E. Todd (Scenic, Cleveland unit)
Film Editor: Conrad Buff (Film ed)
  Warren Paeff (Addl ed)
  Carole Ann Kenneally (1st asst ed)
  Jennifer Calbi (Asst ed)
  Daniel Kupresan (Asst ed)
  Keith Sam (Editorial PA)
  Twentieth Century Fox Studios (Post prod facilities provided by)
  Gary Burritt (Negative cutter)
Set Decoration: Anne McCulley (Set dec)
  Paul Sonski (Set des)
  Barbara Mesney (Set des)
  Troy Borisy (Leadman)
  Rocky Slaymaker (Leadman)
  Matt McGuire (Set dresser)
  Leonard Rothstein (Set dresser)
  Rod Ledta (Set dresser)
  Manuel Castillo (Set dresser)
  Daniel W. Roberts (Set dresser)
  Diego Sanchez (Set dresser)
  J. D. Smith (On set dresser)
  Jason Truitt (Swing gang)
  Troy Flores (Swing gang)
  Jon Nicholson (Swing gang, Cleveland unit)
  James K. Butler (Swing gang, Cleveland unit)
  Dennis G. Knight (Swing gang, Cleveland unit)
  Frank McKeon (Swing gang, Cleveland unit)
  Jack Gardener (Swing gang, Cleveland unit)
  Ken McCahan (Swing gang, Cleveland unit)
  Will Blount (Prop master)
  Monica Castro (Asst prop master)
  Matthew C. Kime (2d asst props)
  Lynn Kramer (Asst props, Cleveland unit)
  Rick Myers (Propmaker)
  James Mize (Propmaker)
  Scott Renner (Propmaker)
  David Pixler (Propmaker)
  Arnold Castaneda (Propmaker)
  Pete E. Meda (Propmaker)
  Richard N. McGuire (Propmaker)
  Thomas T. Nikitas (Propmaker)
  Thomas Kaschade (Propmaker)
  Michael Poolman (Propmaker)
  Dean L. Alexander (Propmaker)
  Thomas S. Morris (Propmaker)
  Jeff Baxter (Propmaker)
  David J. Easterling (Propmaker)
  Kevin Gustavson (Propmaker)
  William Branch (Propmaker)
  Lars Peterson (Const coord)
  John S. Bukala (Const foreman, Cleveland unit)
  Steven C. Voll (Gen foreman)
  John Sullivan (Const gang boss)
  Mindy Frank (Const buyer)
  Joseph C. Kelley (Labor foreman)
  Matthew D. Egan (Gangboss)
  Victor Shannon (Plasterer foreman)
  James Price (Plasterer foreman)
  David Goldstein (Lead painter)
  John Hinkle (Standby painter)
  Franklin Rodriguez (Painter)
  Greg Musselman (Painter)
  William Biggerstaff (Painter)
  Bill K. Hoyt (Painter)
  Bryan Wheeler (Painter)
  Gregory Puchalski (Painter, Cleveland unit)
  Donald Leigl (Utility painter, Cleveland unit)
  Terri P. Tufts (Paint foreman, Cleveland unit)
  James Thompson (Laborer)
  Robert Porter (Laborer)
  Donald Paul Cooke (Laborer)
  Mario A. Arce (Laborer)
  Shaun S. Wiggins (Laborer)
  Steven Inez (Laborer)
  Christopher Naefke (Plasterer)
  George McDougall (Carpenter, Cleveland unit)
Costumes: Sharen Davis (Cost des)
  Winnie Brown Willis (Cost supv)
  Riki Sausawa-Roach (Cost)
  Frank Rose (Mr. Washington's cost)
  Yvonne Bastidos (Set cost)
  Marylou Lim (Set cost)
  Melissa Elbaum (Buyer)
  Murshel C. Lewis (Ward, Cleveland unit)
Music: Mychael Danna (Mus)
  Adam Smalley (Mus ed)
  Brian Lawson (Asst mus ed)
  Nicholas Dodd (Score orch & cond)
  Sandy De Crescent (Scoring contractor)
  Joann Kane Music Services (Mus preparation by)
  Brad Haehnel (Score rec and mixed by)
  Paul Intson (Mus programmer)
  Andrew Lockington (Asst to comp)
  The Newman Scoring Stage (Orch rec at)
  Twentieth Century Fox (Orch rec at)
  Sony Pictures (Orch rec at)
  Warner Bros. Eastwood Scoring Stage (Orch rec at)
  Signet Sound Studios (Score mixed at)
  The Newman Scoring Stage crew: John Rodd (Recordist)
  Bill Talbott (Eng)
  Joseph Lobato (2d eng)
  Tom Hardisty (Asst eng)
  Matt Marrin (Asst eng)
  Tom Steel (Stage crew)
  Damon Tedesco (Stage crew)
  Richard Ruttenberg (Piano)
  Pauletta Washington (Piano)
  Jeff Danna (Acoustic guitar)
  Tim Clément (Elec guitar)
  Paul Intson (Bass)
  Bill Brennan (Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan)
  Mark Duggan (Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan)
  Paul Houle (Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan)
  Blair Mackay (Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan)
  Ron Searles at CBC Toronto (Gamelan rec)
Sound: Willie Burton (Sd mixer)
  Marvin E. Lewis (Boom person)
  David Holmes (Cable person)
  Kip Gynn (Sd cable utility, Cleveland unit)
  Donald Sylvester (Supv sd ed)
  Jim Bolt (Re-rec mixer)
  Anna Behlmer (Re-rec mixer)
  David Kulczycki (Sd eff ed)
  Matt Patterson (Recordist)
  William Stein (Re-rec eng)
  Charleen Richards (ADR mixer)
  David Lucarelli (ADR recordist)
  Steve Price (Foley ed)
  Alicia Stevenson-Irwin (Foley artist)
  Dawn Fintor (Foley artist)
  David Batancourt (Foley mixer)
  Mildred Iatrou Morgan (Dial ed)
Special Effects: David Poole (Spec eff)
  Marvin Felton (Spec eff)
  Martin Bresin (Spec eff coord)
  Custom Film Effects (Titles and opticals)
Make Up: Carl Fullerton (Makeup)
  Amrita-Diane Ford (Makeup)
  F. Laini Thompson (Addl makeup)
  Cat'ania McCoy-Howze (Addl makeup)
  Angela Johnson (Addl makeup)
  Denise Pugh-Ruiz (Addl makeup)
  Kathy Madison (Addl makeup, Cleveland unit)
  Nadia Zogby (Addl makeup, Cleveland unit)
  Ken Walker (Key hair stylist)
  Larry M. Cherry (Hairstylist)
  Soo Jin Yoan (Addl hair)
  Lynn Champagne (Addl hair)
  Fay Kelly (Addl hair)
  Pauletta Lewis-Irwin (Addl hair)
  Deborah Lily (Addl hair, Cleveland unit)
  Tanya Johnson (Addl hair, Cleveland unit)
  Vera Moore Cosmetics (Makeup supplied by)
Production Misc: Robi Reed-Humes (Casting)
  Lillian Pyles (Cleveland casting)
  A. Dorian Reed (Casting assoc)
  Donna R. Harrison (Casting asst)
  Tina Real Agency (Extras casting)
  Caitlin McKenna (Voice casting)
  Traci Easley-Williams (Casting PA, Cleveland unit)
  Adrienne Brown (Casting PA, Cleveland unit)
  Kenneth Clemmons (Casting PA, Cleveland unit)
  William Moore (Casting PA, Cleveland unit)
  Leigh Shanta (Unit prod mgr)
  Melissa "Stanley" Cohen (Prod supv)
  Molly Allen (Loc mgr)
  Kei Rowan Young (Asst loc mgr)
  Mark Davies (Loc asst)
  Artis I. Gaines (Asst loc, Cleveland unit)
  Tricia Lynch (Asst loc, Cleveland unit)
  Linda Warrilow (Navy coord)
  Matt Cahill (Loc PA, Cleveland unit)
  Joan Andrews (Loc PA, Cleveland unit)
  Marquis Frost (Loc PA, Cleveland unit)
  Ann S. Christman (Prod coord)
  Carrie Black Gallison (Asst prod coord)
  Jen O'Neal (Asst prod coord, Cleveland unit)
  Lisa D. DiSanto (Clearance coord)
  Doug Moreno (Prod accountant)
  Annie Welles (Scr supv)
  Kathy Rowe (Exec asst to Mr. Black)
  David Gerson (On set asst to Mr. Black)
  Rita Pearson (Exec asst to Mr. Washington)
  Sal Muhammed (Mr. Washington's personal security)
  Gavin Roberson (Mr. Washington's driver)
  Moses D. Isreal Jr. (Asst to Mr. Washington, Cleveland unit)
  Rebecca Kirkland (Prod secy)
  Ron Clarke (Office prod asst)
  Cyrillynn P. Grospe (Office prod asst)
  Kim Andrews (Office PA, Cleveland unit)
  Lashawn McCrary (Office PA, Cleveland unit)
  Angelique Graham-Bones (Key set prod asst)
  James W. Crawford Jr. (Set prod asst)
  Audric Thompson (Set prod asst)
  Levi James (Set prod asst)
  Iris Huezo (Set prod asst)
  Johnny Haddad (Set prod asst)
  Karl Jefferson (Set PA, Cleveland unit)
  Toya Milawan Profit (Set PA, Cleveland unit)
  Sean Duckworth (Set PA, Cleveland unit)
  James D. Emory (Film runner)
  Chris Crago (Film runner)
  Beverly L. Mink (1st asst accountant)
  Karen Shane (Asst auditor)
  Alex Lerner (Asst auditor)
  Brandon Linville (Asst auditor)
  Karen Scarborough (Payroll accountant)
  Sid Swank (Unit pub)
  Wayne Williams (Transportation coord)
  John A. Brubaker (Transportation capt)
  Amy Sterner (Transportation asst)
  Gala Catering (Caterer)
  Sol Rivera (Craft services)
  Annette Moreno (Craft services)
  Will Gatlin (Craft services, Cleveland unit)
  James Maclin (Craft services, Cleveland unit)
  Robert "Sarge" Hepburn (Medic)
  C. Don DeBaun (Medic)
  Jim Dresser (Medic)
  Sheila Goldfarb (Medic)
  Virginia Spaganlo (Medic, Cleveland unit)
  Steven R. Kutcher (Entomology consultant)
  Cdr. Paul Hammer (Psychiatric tech adv)
  Beth Dubber (Travel coord, Cleveland unit)
  On Location Education (Children's tutoring provided by)
  Linda Edminson (Teacher, Cleveland unit)
  Marjorie Pyles-Hearst (Teacher, Cleveland unit)
  Kimberly Taylor (Teacher, Cleveland unit)
  Aerial Brilliance, Inc. (Aerolite balloons provided by)
Stand In: Tierre Turner (Stunt coord)
  Robert "Ripp" Powell (Stunts)
  Dain Turner (Stunts)
  Keith Butler (Stunts)
  Gail Monian (Stunts)
  Tom Waite (Stunts)
Color Personnel: Dennis McNeill (Col timer)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Country: United States
Language: English

Music: "Marine Corps Jody" and "Miss Mary Mack," traditional.
Songs: "Laguna Sunrise," written and performed by Billy Martin, courtesy of Marc Ferrari/MasterSource; "The Humpty Dance," written by Gregory Jacobs, George Clinton, Jr., Bootsy Collins and Walter Morrison, Jr., performed by Digital Underground, courtesy of Rhino Entertainment Company, by arrangement with Warner Special Products; "La Vida es un Carnaval," written by Victor Daniel, performed by Celia Cruz, courtesy of Universal Music Latino, under license from Universal Music Enterprises; "Jumpi," written by Bruno Garcia, Pierre Luc Jamain, Livan Nunez, Vincent Jogerst and Simon Andrieux, performed by Sergent Garcia, courtesy of Labels/Virgin France S.A. under exclusive license to Higher Octave World, a division of Higher Octave Music, Inc., under license from EMI Film & TV Music; "The World Is Yours," written by Nasir Jones and Peter Phillips, performed by Nas, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing.
Composer: Simon Andrieux
  George Clinton Jr.
  Bootsy Collins
  Victor Daniel
  Bruno Garcia
  Gregory Jacobs
  Pierre Luc Jamain
  Vincent Jogerst
  Nasir Jones
  Billy Martin
  Walter Morrison Jr.
  Livan Nunez
  Peter Phillips
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation 30/12/2002 dd/mm/yyyy PA0001084767

PCA NO: 39019
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby in selected theatres
  col: DeLuxe
  Lenses/Prints: Kodak Motion Picture Film
  Widescreen/ratio: Filmed in Panavision with remote cranes and heads from Panavision Remote Systems
  gauge: 35mm

 
Genre: Biography
 
Subjects (Major): African Americans
  Battered children
  Family relationships
  Maturation
  Psychiatrists
  Sailors
  United States. Navy
 
Subjects (Minor): Child molesters
  Childlessness
  Cleveland (OH)
  Coronado (CA)
  Courtship
  Education
  Fistfights
  Foster parents
  Friendship
  Marriage
  Military discipline
  Neglected wives
  Officers (Military)
  Pancakes, waffles, etc.
  Preachers
  Robbery
  Shyness
  Temper
  Thanksgiving Day
  Virginity

Note: The working titles of this film were The Antwone Fisher Story and Finding Fish . The picture was also referred to as The Untitled Antwone Fisher Project or the The Untitled Antwone Fisher Story when production first began. The film’s closing credits begin with a written dedication from screenwriter Antwone Fisher: “In memory of my Father, Edward Elkins, whom I never had the pleasure and the honor to know.” The end credits also contain the following written disclaimer: “Antwone Fisher’s screenplay was inspired by his life. Some of the characters and events depicted in this film are fictional.”
       As depicted in the film, Antwone Fisher was born in 1959 in Cleveland, two months after his father was murdered. [In the film, the character of “Antwone” is born in 1976.] Fisher’s mother, incarcerated at the time of his birth, never claimed him from the orphanage in which he remained for the next two years before being placed into an abusive foster home. After being turned out of his foster home, Fisher spent two years in a boys’s reform school, then was homeless before joining the Navy. Fisher served an eleven-year stint in the Navy before spending three years as a correctional officer. It was while he was then employed as a security guard at Sony Pictures that he sought out and found his real family.
       Inspired by the enthusiastic reaction to his story that he received from several Sony executives, who learned about it because he had to ask for special permission for vacation time to visit his family, Fisher decided to write a screenplay about his life. According to studio publicity and numerous articles, in 1993, Fisher began taking a screenwriting class taught by Chris Smith. Smith, a screenwriter who would eventually make his debut as a producer with Antwone Fisher , introduced Fisher to his former college roommate, Sony producer Todd Black. Impressed by Fisher’s story, Black and his producing partner, Randa Haines, gave Fisher enough money to quit his security guard job and bought him a computer on which to write his screenplay. After working closely with Black for approximately a year, Fisher was able to sell his screenplay to Twentieth Century Fox in Aug 1994. Fisher later used his screenplay as the basis for an autobiographical book, published in 2001 as Finding Fish: A Memoir . The poem recited by “Antwone” in the film, “Who Will Cry for the Little Boy?,” was the title poem in Fisher’s collection of poetry published in Dec 2002.
       According to a 23 Aug 1995 DV article, Haines was considering directing the project at that time, and one of the co-producers was to be Jason Blumenthal, a vice-president at Haines/Black Productions. A 24 Nov 1998 HR “films in preparation” notice also included Blumenthal as a co-producer and listed one of the production companies as Black & Blu Entertainment, which was run by Blumenthal and Black. Blumenthal is not credited onscreen, however.
       In Sep 1996, Var announced that Denzel Washington was in talks to direct the picture but not star in it, with Will Smith being considered for the lead role of Antwone. Several articles about the making of the picture note that Black first approached Washington, who made his feature-film directorial debut with Antwone Fisher , solely about playing “Jerome Davenport.” Washington instead decided that he wanted to direct the project, and it was not until later that he agreed to play the part of Davenport, a fictional composite of several people who helped Fisher. According to a Jan 2003 Premiere article, Washington “auditioned hundreds of young men around the country” for the part of Antwone, and a 20—27 Dec 2002 Entertainment Weekly article notes that in addition to Smith, actors Cuba Gooding, Jr., Mekhi Phifer and Ja Rule were also interested in the role. The article also notes that while Fisher was working at the Sony lot, he made the acquaintance of a young actor, Derek Luke, who worked at the gift shop on the lot. Luke, who had appeared in only two television shows and a bit part in the Spike Lee movie Clockers , auditioned for the role of Antwone several times and before being cast in Aug 2001. Joy Bryant, who plays “Cheryl Smolley,” also played her first major role in a feature film in Antwone Fisher .
       In the ending onscreen credits, the filmmakers thank the Department of Defense and U.S. Navy, along with a number of specific Naval officers and ships, for their cooperation in the picture’s production. In studio publicity and television interviews, Washington credits the Navy’s extensive cooperation with helping him to produce the film on a modest budget of $13 million. Several Naval bases and areas in San Diego, CA were used as location sites, and the main ship used during production was the USS Belleau Wood . Studio publicity reported that in order to “maintain an air of authenticity, nearly all the [N]avy extras that are seen in the film were actually off-duty officers from the bases where the film was shot.” Portions of the picture were also shot in Cleveland, OH, in the real neighborhoods where Fisher grew up, and many members of the community were hired as extras or participated in the production in other ways.
       Antwone Fisher was selected as one of AFI’s top ten films of 2002, and was nominated for an Image Award as Outstanding Motion Picture. Luke received an Independent Spirit Award as Best Male Lead, and his performance was recognized as the Best Breakthrough Performance of an Actor by the National Board of Review. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   23 Aug 1994   p. 3, 18.
Daily Variety   20 Aug 1998.   
Daily Variety   6 Apr 2001.   
Daily Variety   9 Aug 2001   p. 1, 51.
Daily Variety   16 Sep 2002.   
Daily Variety   17 Sep 2002.   
Daily Variety   12 Nov 2002.   
Entertainment Weekly   27 Sep 2002   pp. 34-39.
Entertainment Weekly   20--27 Dec 2002.   pp. 12-16.
Entertainment Weekly   3 Jan 2003   p. 45.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Nov 1998.   
Hollywood Reporter   16 Oct 2001.   
Hollywood Reporter   16 Sep 2002.   
Hollywood Reporter   5 Dec 2002   pp. S1-S3, S6.
Los Angeles Times   23 Aug 1994.   
Los Angeles Times   30 Dec 2001   p. 3, 74.
Los Angeles Times   20 Dec 2002.   
New York Times   19 Dec 2002.   
Premiere   Jan 2003   pp. 56-59, 91.
Screen International   20 Sep 2002.   
Variety   23 Sep 1996.   
Variety   23 Sep 2002.   

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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