Fraternities and sororities at historically Black colleges and universes have had a significant impact not just on the students who are a part of them but on the Black community as a whole. In films like “Drumline” and “Stomp the Yard,” which are set on HBCU campuses, we often get a small glimpse into the sacred world of pledging, the focus of these film shining a light on other aspects of college life. Perhaps not since Spike Lee’s 1988 film “School Daze” has there been such a major focus on pledging Black frats and sororities and the hazing that often comes along with that.
In his feature directorial debut, “Burning Sands” director Gerard McMurray gives an emotionally honest and raw look into the world of 21st-century fraternity pledging. Told from the perspective of Zurich (Trevor Jackson “American Crime’) who is torn between honoring a code of silence and standing up against the intensifying violence of underground hazing, the film is a dark and gritty look at the bonds of Black brotherhood and rites of passage. Alfre Woodard, Steve Harris, Tosin Cole, DeRon Horton and Trevante Rhodes also star in the film. Ahead of the film’s Sundance debut, I got a chance to chat with Tosin Cole and DeRon Horton who play Frank and Square, respectively. We chatted about the history of pledging, getting into character and forming a brotherhood.
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