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Producer Datari Turner Talks Bringing ‘A Boy. A Girl. A Dream.’ To Life (Sundance Interview)

January 29, 2018
Come Sunday
FRANCHESCA-RAMSEY
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We’re taught to lean into to love — to let dreams and possibilities consume us. The paralyzing fear the comes with jumping in head first is rarely explored. However, Qasim Basir strips down the fairytale with his gorgeously shot A Boy. A Girl. A Dream. Omari Hardwick and Meagan Good stand at the center of the film as Cass and Frida, two strangers spiraling toward one another in the midst of an election night that would jolt the world awake. For producer Datari Turner who has worked in the entertainment industry for two decades, it was a story that he needed to be a part of. A day after the film premiered at Sundance Film Festival, I sat with Tuner on a hotel balcony overlooking the snowy mountains of Park City to chat about the film.

For the Oakland native, returning to Sundance was like coming home. “I’ve had six films in the festival in the last seven years, and my company has produced 30 films,” he explained. “Q and I met here six years ago at a dinner that Ava DuVernay put together. I was here at the time with a film called LUV. Ava was here with a film called Middle of Nowhere. Omari was in Ava’s film, and Meagan was in LUV. Q and I met, and we stayed in contact over the years, and always talked about projects. As a man of faith. I always feel like everything happens when it’s supposed to happen. A year and a half ago, Q called, and he was like, ‘I’ve got a love story, and it’s sort of in the vein of a Love Jones meets The Notebook.’ I read it and what drew me to the project was that it was about two people who had given up on their dreams. I read an article that said 8% of the people in our country are actually doing things that they love, and that really struck a chord with me. So many people move to LA and New York and Atlanta to pursue a dream, and then real life sets in.”

Love also drew Turner to the words on Basir’s page. “Obviously love makes everything work,” he reflected. “It doesn’t matter what color you are, race, or class, you’re either chasing love, in love, falling out of love, or wanting to be loved more. Love is the thing that we all deal with every day in some way. Those were the things that really drew me to it, and then the election happened.”

The election of Donald Trump was paralyzing, his victory ringing out like an atomic bomb that no one saw coming. “We had already been developing A Boy. A Girl. A Dream. and moving forward with the project before the election happened,” Turner explained. “I would say, I couldn’t really remember any time in my lifetime where the country had been more divided, it was just a really polarizing night. I would say in modern day history, it’s probably the most polarizing night. Everybody had an opinion about it. Qasim, he was calling me during the night. He’s like, ‘I can’t believe this is really happening.’”

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