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‘Charm City Kings,’ a drama about Baltimore’s 12 o’clock boys, to debut at Sundance Film Festival

Jahi Di’Allo Winston in "Charm City Kings." Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by William Gray.
Jahi Di’Allo Winston in "Charm City Kings." Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by William Gray.(Photo courtesy Sundance Film Festival)

Baltimore’s 12 O’clock Boys will soon be getting their moment in the Hollywood spotlight.

The movie “Charm City Kings," a drama shot in Baltimore in 2018 under the name “12 O’clock Boys,” will have its world premiere at next year’s Sundance Film Festival, organizers of the influential movie showcase announced Wednesday.

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“Charm City Kings” is one of 16 movies slated for the festival’s U.S. Dramatic Competition.

Shot primarily in West Baltimore in the fall of 2018, “Charm City Kings” tells the story of Mouse, a 12 O’clock Boy — so named for riding the streets of Baltimore on their dirt bikes while keeping them as close to perpendicular as possible ― who “desperately wants to join The Midnight Clique, the infamous Baltimore dirt bike riders who rule the summertime streets,” according to the Sundance website. “When Midnight’s leader, Blax, takes 14-year-old Mouse under his wing, Mouse soon finds himself torn between the straight-and-narrow and a road filled with fast money and violence.”

The movie, from Sony Pictures and Will Smith’s production company, Overbrook Entertainment, stars Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Meek Mill, Will Catlett, Teyonah Parris, Donielle Tremaine Hansley and Kezii Curtis. It is directed by Angel Manuel Soto (“The Farm”), from a screenplay by Sherman Payne, Chris Boyd & Kirk Sullivan and Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”). It is based on the 2013 documentary “12 O’clock Boys,” from Maryland Institute College of Art grad Lotfy Nathan.

A still from Ramona S. Diaz's "A Thousand Cuts." Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
A still from Ramona S. Diaz's "A Thousand Cuts." Courtesy of Sundance Institute.(Courtesy of Sundance Institute)

And the “Charm City Kings” debut isn’t the only love Sundance is showing Baltimore. Also getting its world premiere will be “A Thousand Cuts,” the latest documentary from B-more’s own Ramona S. Diaz, whose last film, 2017′s “Motherland,” was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary.

“A Thousand Cuts,” entered in the U.S. Documentary competition, chronicles a journalist in the Philippines and her work covering an increasingly repressive regime. “Nowhere is the worldwide erosion of democracy, fueled by social media disinformation campaigns, more starkly evident than in the authoritarian regime of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte,” reads the film’s description on the Sundance website. “Journalist Maria Ressa places the tools of the free press — and her freedom — on the line in defense of truth and democracy.”

Also nominated in the U.S. Dramatic Competition and getting its world premiere will be “Nine Days,” from producer and Baltimore native Jason Michael Berman. The film, written and directed by Edson Oda, stars Winston Duke and Zazie Beetz.

“In a house distant from the reality we know,” the synopsis on the Sundance website reads, "a reclusive man interviews prospective candidates — personifications of human souls — for the privilege that he once had: to be born."

In addition to Berman, whose previous credits include Nate Parker’s controversial “The Birth of a Nation,” the producers of “Nine Days” are Mette Marie Kongsved, Matthew Lindner, Laura Tunstall and Datari Turner.

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The Sundance Film Festival is set for Jan. 23-Feb. 2, 2020, in Park City, Utah.

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