New HBO Doc to Spotlight the Murder of Yusuf Hawkins


HBO has given the go-ahead to Storm Over Brooklyn, which won the inaugural Feature Documentary Initiative created by Lightbox and the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in an effort to encourage diversity in feature docs.

Directed by Muta’Ali, Storm Over Brooklyn tells the story of Yusuf Hawkins, an African-American teen who was murdered after being trapped by a group of white youths in 1989. The project was one of more than 300 submissions to the initiative, which aimed to explore themes related to the African-American experience. Lightbox and the ABFF revealed that the second edition of this multi-year program will open for entries on July 18, 2018.

Muta’Ali commented: “Yusuf Hawkins’ murder had a major effect on the public, and the locked-away regret and sorrow questions a history that those involved have held onto for nearly 30 years. We will finally see the light of day in the context of our time. This is due to the courage of Yusuf’s loving family, as well as the visionary talent teams at HBO, Lightbox and ABFF.”

“We are genuinely thrilled that HBO has greenlit Storm Over Brooklyn—a powerful, timely film which feels so relevant to today’s audience even though the events it depicts took place 30 years ago,” noted Lightbox co-founders Jonathan Chinn and Simon Chinn. “Muta’Ali is a talented and passionate director who is perfectly placed to bring this highly relevant story to the screen and we are proud to support his vision. We are delighted to be working once again with our friends at HBO Documentary Films, whose reputation for high-quality, thought-provoking documentaries make it the perfect home for this project, and we’re honored to be working in partnership with them to nurture and support new, diverse creative talent.”

Jeff Friday, founder and CEO of ABFF Ventures, added: “It’s an honor to partner with HBO Documentary Films on Storm Over Brooklyn, which is a natural extension of the ABFF HBO relationship. Together, we have been fostering diverse storytellers in the narrative space for 22 years. Expanding into the documentary space and production is a very exciting opportunity for ABFF and the filmmakers who come through our talent pipeline programs. We could not have wished for a more fitting home than HBO.”