Several years ago, I read the novel Push written by performance poet, Sapphire. I remember climbing into bed one night to read it and finishing it at about 5 AM. Several times I had to put the book down for a few minutes, just to get myself together, to breathe. Once I put the book down for the final time, I still couldn't sleep: I was emotionally wrung out and deeply disturbed. It's hard to recover from a book that opens with: "I was left back when I was twelve because I had a baby for my fahver..."
Big news from the Sundance Film Festival this past weekend: for only the third time in the festival's 25-year history, the Sundance jury and the audience awarded their top honors to the same film. Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire (a title designed, no doubt, to distinguish the film from the sci-fi action film of the same name starring Dakota Fanning that hits theaters later this year) won the Grand Jury Prize as well as the Audience Award. Comedienne Mo'Nique also received a Special Jury Prize for Acting for her dramatic performance in the film. Push is an adaptation of author and performance poet Sapphire's powerful story about a young African-American woman who struggles to overcome incredible obstacles, including illiteracy and a harrowing history of abuse. The film's star, newcomer Gabourey Sidibe is receiving rave reviews, as well as her co-stars Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, and Lenny Kravitz. Unfortunately, all of this momentum may not translate into a chance at the box office.