Yusuf Hawkins

Source: New York Daily News Archive / Getty

As part of a new initiative to promote diversity at the premium network, HBO has ordered Storm Over Brooklyn, a documentary by actor and cinematographer Muta’Ali.

The doc tells the story of Yusuf Hawkins, a Black teen who was shot and killed in 1989 after being trapped by a group of white kids in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn. The project will delve deep into the event that set New York City up for its first and only African-American mayor, David Dinkins, who came in after Ed Koch was ousted.

“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,” Muta’Ali said. “We will finally see the light of day in the context of our time.”

The documentary won the inaugural Feature Documentary Initiative award created by LA 92 producer Lightbox and the American Black Film Festival. The initiative is open to Black filmmakers and those interested in exploring nonfiction stories that speak to the African-American experience.

“Expanding into the documentary space and production is a very exciting opportunity for ABFF and the filmmakers who come through our talent pipeline programs,” ABFF founder and CEO Jeff Friday said. “We could not have wished a more fitting home than HBO.”

Friday will also executive produce the documentary, alongside Lightbox founders Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn who also produced Whitney, about the late Whitney Houston.

“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,” said Jonathan 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.”

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