AFI Movie Club: TALK TO ME – American Film Institute

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AFI Movie Club: TALK TO ME

TALK TO ME, directed by Kasi Lemmons and starring Don Cheadle, is a biopic about real life Washington DC-based radio DJ and talk show host Ralph ‘Petey’ Greene. Both Lemmons and Cheadle have instructed the next generation of filmmakers at AFI Conservatory seminars. 

 

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TALK TO ME – Reelgood

Watch Don Cheadle in this exclusive video from the AFI Archive:

Movie Trivia about TALK TO ME

DID YOU KNOW? TALK TO ME is based on real-life talk show host Ralph “Petey” Greene and his friendship with his manager, Dewey Hughes. 

DID YOU KNOW? TALK TO ME was co-written by Dewey Hughes’ son, Michael Genet, and Rick Famuyiwa. Although the movie follows the story of Ralph “Petey” Greene, Dewey Hughes was the primary source of information about the narrative, and he advised every department of the production team. 

DID YOU KNOW? In an interview, director Kasi Lemmons has said, “TALK TO ME became a film about a time when change was possible and even revolution was possible. We didn’t know what was going to happen. It was a very devastating time and a very frightening time, but it was alive.” 

DID YOU KNOW? TALK TO ME marked Kasi Lemmons’ third theatrically released feature as a director, and she received an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Director and a Best Director award from the African-American Film Critics Association. 

DID YOU KNOW? Producer Joe Fries worked for over a decade to get TALK TO ME made. The production cost $15 million and grossed $400,000 in its opening weekend. 

DID YOU KNOW? TALK TO ME was filmed on location in Washington, DC, and in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 

DID YOU KNOW? TALK TO ME made its world premiere on the opening night of the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 22, 2007. 

DID YOU KNOW? TALK TO ME won three African-American Film Critics Association Awards – including Best Director (Kasi Lemmons), Best Actor (Don Cheadle) and Best Supporting Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who won an Independent Spirit award in the same category.   

DID YOU KNOW? The NAACP honored TALK TO ME with two Image Awards for Outstanding Director in a Motion Picture (Kasi Lemmons) and Outstanding Writing for a Motion Picture (Michael Genet and Rick Famuyiwa). TALK TO ME was also nominated for four additional Image Awards in the categories for Best Actor (Don Cheadle), Best Actress (Taraji P. Henson), Best Supporting Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Best Picture. 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-How does TALK TO ME capture the world as it was in the 1960s? What aspects of the film remind you of the current political climate, and what has changed? What parts of the film strike you as “devastating” and “frightening,” as director Kasi Lemmons has described the time period?

-Describe the friendship between Petey and Dewey. Whose point of view is represented more fully, and who do you think undergoes the most distinct transformation?

-Although TALK TO ME was criticized by the Greene family for its factual inaccuracies, Kasi Lemmons pointed out in interviews that the movie was never intended to be strictly biographical. Do you think it is appropriate for filmmakers to maintain artistic license over their stories even if they are based on real people, or do you think movies should remain faithful to what actually happened? Does TALK TO ME lose its impact if it is not entirely true to reality? Is it successful in honoring Petey Greene’s legacy?

-In TALK TO ME, Petey often uses the term “signifying.” What do you think he means by this in the context of the film?

-How does Petey’s downward spiral affect the other characters in the movie? How do his challenges reflect the society in which he was living? How did Petey stand at the center of revolutionary change, and why was he not able to withstand that pressure?

-Don Cheadle was widely acclaimed for his role in TALK TO ME. Describe his acting style, and why it is so effective in this movie. What is your favorite scene, and is it comedic or tragic?

-How would you rate TALK TO ME?

New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

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