Rising stars assemble for Brother

Filming begins on the Clement Virgo's dramatic adaptation of the prize-winning novel, with Bron Releasing to handle international sales.

Lamar Johnson (The Hate U Give), Aaron Pierre (Underground Railroad), Stephanie Blake (When They See Us) and Kiana Madiere (Fear Street) will lead the cast on writer-director Clement Virgo’s feature film Brother, now in production.

Filming runs until Oct. 26 in and around Toronto and Scarborough on the adaptation of David Chariandy’s prize-winning novel of the same name. Producers on the film are Virgo (The Book of Negroes, Greenleaf) and Damon D’Oliveira (Wildhood) of Conquering Lion Pictures and Aeschylus Poulos and Sonya Di Rienzo (The Young Arsonists, Queen of the Morning Calm) of Hawkeye Pictures.

The drama is being made with the participation of Telefilm Canada, the Canada Media Fund, Ontario Creates and the Shaw Rocket Fund and in association with Bell Media’s Crave and CBC Films.

Elevation Pictures is distributing in Canada, while Bron Releasing will handle foreign sales. A theatrical release is planned for fall 2022.

Laurie May and Noah Segal of Elevation Pictures are executive producers alongside Bron’s Aaron L. Gilbert and Steven Thibault.

“I feel a deeply personal connection to David Chariandy’s novel… and the characters who populate that world. Lamar Johnson, Aaron Pierre, Marsha Stephanie Blake, and Kiana Madeira are the ideal cast to convey the essence of each of these characters and bring out their internal lives to share with audiences,” said Virgo, in a statement

The 2017 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize winning novel is rooted in the author’s own coming-of-age experience as a Black man in the heavily policed city in the early 1990s. Virgo, the son of Jamaican immigrants, grew up in the ’80s in nearby Regent Park.

The film intertwines issues of masculinity with music, as it follow two sons of Caribbean immigrants, raised by a single mother through tense events in the sweltering summer of 1991 in Scarborough.

Producers D’Oliveira, Di Rienzo and Poulos added, “Clement Virgo, one of Canada’s foremost auteur directors, has a profound resonance with this material. We cannot imagine anyone better suited to translate the beauty of Chariandy’s underlying novel onto the big screen.”

“We are thrilled to be partnered with Clement, Damon, and the Hawkeye Pictures team to bring this seminal and important Canadian story to Canadian audiences,” said  May and Segal, adding, “It’s a moving story of love, loss and family reflected in a community whose stories must be represented.”

The team also includes: cinematographer Guy Godfree (Wildhood, Maudie), production designer Jason Clarke (The Righteous, The Book of Negroes), costume designer Hanna Puley (Nine Films About Technology, Run This Town), and editor by Kye Meechan (ARQ, Kim’s Convenience, The Book of Negroes).

Lamar Johnson is repped by WME, Management 360 and Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner & Klein. Aaron Pierre is repped by CAA, Hamilton Hodell and Anonymous Content. Marsha Stephanie Blake is repped by Carolyn Govers, Trevor Adley of Anonymous Content and attorney Lucy Popkin. Kiana Madiera is repped by Ambition Talent, Verve and attorney John Meigs.