Marshall with HMV.COM has written an excellent piece on HEART, BABY! and its writer/director Angela Shelton, which we are very proud of. The link is below, the body of the article is below that. Enjoy!


by Marshallhmv London, 28/04/2017, Bio: Word monkey, nerd, film guy, gamer.

Newport Beach Film Festival - Day Eight: Five Things We Learned

Having spent a week immersed in movies, within hugging distance of the folks who made them, surrounded by like-minded film fans happy to talk for hours about cinema, fuelled by pizza, popcorn and Tito’s Handmade Vodka, a beloved sponsor dedicated to rescuing festival guests from sobriety, how, by the beard of Zeus, is a person supposed to return to real life?

Tonight, at the closing night party, while saying our goodbyes to festival folks we’ve come to love this past week, we’re going to find festival co-founder and CEO Gregg Schwenk, and attempt to convince him that the only sensible course of action is to extend the festival into a 52-weeks-a-year event. All we ask is to live in this beautiful bubble forever.

 Welcome to Day Eight – the final day - of the Newport Beach Film Festival!

Heart and soul.

By the time a movie makes it to your local cinema, chances are you’ll have seen a few trailers already, maybe read a couple of reviews and generally soaked up the buzz to the point where you pretty much know what you’re going to get. Many of the films screened at Newport Beach, however, haven’t seen the inside of a cinema before, and though some have toured the festival circuit, they’re still relatively unknown quantities. When you head to a screening here, then, you have to be prepared to be surprised, and what a wonderful, uncommon feeling, uncertainty is.

Case in point, a new movie from award-winning writer/director Angela Shelton called Heart, Baby! At first glance you might think it’s a prison boxing movie, kind of like Rocky meets The Shawshank Redemption. We’ll tell you right here, though - and apologies for the spoiler – but that is not the case. In reality, this affecting drama tells the powerful true tale of a young black man (Gbenga Akinnagbe), imprisoned at 18, whose burgeoning boxing skills catch the eye of Olympic scouts. But to accept their offer of freedom, in exchange for representing the US at the 1984 Olympics, would mean leaving the secret love of his life behind – his white transgender cellmate (Shawn-Caulin Young). 

How to describe Heart, Baby!? An LGBT prison biopic featuring graphic depictions of rape and murder? That’s accurate. A film about love and learning tolerance with strong Christian values? That also applies. A celebration of the heart and human spirit, with a catchy country soundtrack and unexpected notes of humour. Again, all correct. From cut throats to cross dressers, Heart, Baby! tells a bittersweet sweet tale of interracial romance, with boxing. Honestly, it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before, and for that reason alone, given the chance, you should see it. 

The thing is, it’s also a very good movie, fearlessly depicting the harsh realities, and sensitively revealing the sweet distractions, of prison life. Co-starring Twilight star Jackson Rathbone and peppered with familiar faces, it’s a film that, even now, will startle and delight you. 

Five Questions With…

Angela Shelton, who you may remember from 2004’s Searching For Angela Shelton, a film in which Angela Shelton sought fellow Angela Sheltons, wrote and directed festival favourite Heart, Baby! No Angela Sheltons were harmed in the writing of this paragraph. 

Who’s your movie idol?

“Spielberg is my movie idol because his movies made such an impression on me growing up. I aspire to be a baby Spielberg with rougher edges and more cursing. Actually Heart, Baby! is my homage to him. I even started the film on purple fabric as a shout-out to The Color Purple.”

What’s your go-to comfort film?

Harold and Maude is my go-to movie, just because it's brilliant. I'd say the Color Purple but I've seen it so many times,and cry like a baby every time, that I couldn't put that under comfort. Harold and Maude makes me smile from ear to ear. ‘Harold!’”

From the initial thought, to the final press event, what’s your favourite part of the movie making process?

“Writing the script and then the casting process. It is a joy to my heart when the perfect actor walks into the room andbrings your character to life.”

What would you like people to know about your new film?

“I've been told by many audience members that Heart, Baby! is a Christian realism movie, they've added ‘realism’because it tells the truth of violence, anger and loss, while having the heart of brotherhood, love and faith.”

What’s the question that, during interviews, you’re surprised you’re not asked more? Please then answer that! 

“I'm not asked what my next project is as much as I expect. I'm working on another true story about a Vietnamese family escaping Vietnam in the late ‘70s. It is another true story that will burst your heart open.”