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Daniel Kaluuya portrays iconic Black Panther Party activist Fred Hampton in the first trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah.

Directed and co-written by Shaka King (Shrill, High Maintenance), the biopic tells the story of Hampton, the highly influential chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. He was killed in a coordinated raid by the FBI and Chicago Police in 1969 at just 21 years of age.

The trailer shows Kaluuya’s Hampton declaring powerfully and poignantly: “You can kill a freedom fighter but you can’t kill freedom.”

Discussing the fact that the movie now feels even more vital following the global progress of the Black Lives Matter movement this year, King told the BBC: “We started making it prior to the George Floyd killing and the rebellions that followed. I’ve never been in this kind of position where the attitude of the audience is so caught up to the message that you’re trying to convey – but I think the message of the movie is consistent no matter when it is viewed.”

King also explained his decision to cast Kaluuya, a Brit, as a revered American activist. “I’m well aware of the debate on British actors playing American Black iconic figures,” he said. “But for me, I’m born in America, my family’s Caribbean and I’ve got a South African name – so I am literally emblematic of a sort of diasporadic way of thinking. Kidnapped Africans ended up all around the world. We have a lot more in common than people think, in terms of our experience and trying to overthrow white supremacy. So I didn’t go into it thinking there would be [an issue].”

Judas and the Black Messiah also stars Lakeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Darrell Britt-Gibson, and Martin Sheen. It was originally due to open in theaters this month but has since been postponed to 2021 because of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

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By Nick Levine