Docs

HBO sets airdate for Muta’Ali Muhammad-directed Yusuf Hawkins doc

HBO is set to premiere Muta’Ali Muhammad’s documentary Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn this August. The film tells the story of Yusuf Hawkins, a Black teenager who was murdered in 1989 by ...
July 16, 2020

HBO is set to premiere Muta’Ali Muhammad’s documentary Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn this August.

The film tells the story of Yusuf Hawkins, a Black teenager who was murdered in 1989 by a group of young white men in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

Hawkins’ death and the official response sparked “outrage” in New York, unleashing a “torrent of racial tension” and spurring civil rights activism.

More than 30 years later, New Yorkers — including Hawkins’ family and friends — reflect on his death and the subsequent fight for justice that “inspired and divided” New York City.

The film draws on archival footage and photos, witness statements, new footage and candid interviews with Hawkins’ mother, Diane; brothers, Freddy and Amir; cousins, Darlene and Felicia Brown; and friend Christopher Graham; as well as the two friends who were with him during the attack, Luther Sylvester and Bensonhurst native Russell Gibbons.

Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn also includes interviews with defense attorney Stephen Murphy; Joseph Fama, who was convicted of the crime; Reverend Al Sharpton, who became the family’s spokesperson; assistant district Attorney Douglas Nadjari; activist Dr. Lenora Fulani; and former Mayor David Dinkins.

This film will be available on HBO and to stream on HBO Max Aug. 12.

Selected from more than 300 submissions, the documentary is the winning project of the inaugural Feature Documentary Initiative created by the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) and Academy Award-winning production company Lightbox.

Producers are Jevon Frank, Victorious De Costa, Alexandra Moss and Muhammad; co-producer is Melanie Share; executive producers are Jonathan Chinn, Simon Chinn, Jeff Friday, Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin. For HBO, executive producers are Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller and Jacqueline Glover; supervising producer is Greg Rhem.

“It’s important to remember Yusuf Hawkins, honor his life and be mindful that our martyrs have families who need our love long after the marching subsides,” Muhammad said in a statement. “This film ties together the past and the present showing how racism can rear its head anywhere, even in a liberal city.”

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is a special reports editor at realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.

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