Five Favorite Films

Gina Prince-Bythewood's Five Favorite Films

The director of Beyond the Lights chats about her inspiration for the film and the state of hip-hop music today.

by | November 13, 2014 | Comments

Gina-Prince-Bythewood's-Five-Favorite-Films

From Love and Basketball to the The Secret Life of Bees, Gina Prince-Bythewood has poured her soul into her projects.

Hip-hop and R&B play a strong influence in Prince-Bythewood’s latest film, Beyond the Lights, a drama about the pressures of fame and the toll it takes on the world’s latest superstar, Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), until she falls for a member of her security detail (Nate Parker) and realizes there’s more to life than her career. Gina took time out from her busy schedule to chat with RT about her Five Favorite Films. Check them out below.


Broadcast News (James L. Brooks, 1987; 98% Tomatometer)



Holly Hunter’s performance. Her character spoke to me both personally and professionally. I saw myself in that character. It was hysterically funny, but also I love the kind of movies that make me laugh and cry and feel and it had everything. It’s almost a perfect movie.

Out of Sight (Steven Soderbergh, 1998; 93% Tomatometer)



The chemistry between Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney was insane. Anytime that movie comes on cable, I can’t not watch it and it’s really because of their chemistry and the movie’s just fun. Don Cheadle is great in it. I love the story of it. I love the way Soderbergh shot it and I love the love story aspect of it.

Central Station (Walter Salles, 1998; 94% Tomatometer)



I saw that film and I don’t like to cry in movies — I don’t think anybody does — just because it’s embarrassing, but I was sobbing in that film. It was such a beautiful story. It was this little film that spoke volumes and emotions were just so real and it just moved me. And honestly, I saw it at a time where I’d grown up loving movies and there was a period where suddenly it seemed like everything coming out was the same and I started getting annoyed and then I saw Central Station and Life is Beautiful within months (of each other) and it restored my faith in film-making.

Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990; 96% Tomatometer)



I loved that film. It tells me so much as a director. I studied it so much in terms of the camera and how you use the camera to tell the story. The performances were great, but it was really the technical aspect of it that is so fascinating to me. What Scorsese was able to do with the camera to tell the story and speak to characters and give every character an entrance. It’s another film that’s almost perfect.

Hoop Dreams (Steve James, 1994; 98% Tomatometer)



A documentary that doesn’t feel like a documentary. It feels like a movie, a movie that I get lost in every time I see it. What’s amazing is if you had scripted it the way it happened people wouldn’t buy it and wouldn’t believe it. But the fact it happened that way in real life, it was mesmerizing and those two boys they were real and you rooted for them and you felt for them and you went through every emotion with them. It was so beautifully done and changed the game in terms of documentaries in making them more commercial and giving them a bigger platform than they had prior.



Beyond the Lights is definitely a passion project for you; you got the inspiration for the story when you attended an Alicia Keys concert. Is that what drove you to using music so much for the movie?

It’s definitely a passion project and I love music and I write some music, so it kind of makes sense that as a writer the story came into my head when I was at that concert. It doesn’t always happen like that for me as a writer when the story just comes but it was so specific and this character was so specific of a woman struggling to find her self-worth within an industry that takes pride almost in tearing that
down. It just felt like it was right to explore and hip-hop/R&B is such a complicated world right now and hasn’t been explored and putting a love story within that as well was fun for me as a writer. And I thought, honestly, it would be an easy sell, given that it was the music scene with a love story, and I was shocked that every studio turned it down — twice — but I believed in it and believed in Gugu ( Mbatha-Raw ) when I found her to play Noni.


What hip-hop and R&B influences did you have growing up?

What is funny is that I was adopted by white parents and grew up in Pacific Grove, California, which had maybe six black people in the entire town. So, I grew up on Pete Seeger and Joan Baez and The Cure and The Who, and it wasn’t until I heard New Edition when I was in high school that it was suddenly like, “Wait, this is what I’m feeling.” I respect the music I grew up on — it definitely moves me, and Peter Gabriel is an artist that I love still today — but when I heard that New Edition tape and then I just played that tape, wore it out, and I just connected with it. Once I got to college it was all hip-hop and R&B for me and it’s the music that I connect to and feel, but for the last couple years it’s really been moving into a dangerous, angry place that’s been trickling down into everyday culture. It scares me because I have two young boys, so I’m making this film in hopes that we can change the conversation.


Hip-hop and R&B in the 1980s and 1990s was so different than how it is now. It’s interesting how it’s evolved.

It was fun and it was about the voice. It’s strange because R&B used to be about loving your woman, and now its about hating women. You know, that doesn’t make sense.



Beyond the Lights is in theaters now.

Click here for more Five Favorite Films.

Tag Cloud

ESPN 2018 Amazon Studios hispanic Pixar Apple Turner Photos anthology true crime Pop El Rey Paramount Network A24 Captain marvel indie Martial Arts Food Network Interview Character Guide festivals dogs SXSW WGN breaking bad Starz zero dark thirty 2017 dc renewed TV shows Sundance TV Film Festival Academy Awards Holiday politics Showtime Lifetime The Walking Dead latino Horror Mystery Countdown 2015 VICE Fox News Chilling Adventures of Sabrina video documentary Amazon The Arrangement Lionsgate Reality Ghostbusters based on movie 007 supernatural crossover Family elevated horror Hulu Creative Arts Emmys Netflix Apple TV Plus psychological thriller Bravo Epix CBS Trailer blockbuster Schedule TCM sequel AMC Extras name the review ratings justice league Arrowverse cinemax RT History animated toy story Drama rotten movies we love thriller Tarantino mockumentary TV DGA screen actors guild Grammys Shondaland SDCC Lucasfilm ITV E! ghosts Netflix Christmas movies National Geographic Avengers cancelled spain children's TV comiccon Rocketman Disney streaming service Adult Swim Song of Ice and Fire YA Mary Poppins Returns versus technology IFC Pride Month spider-man Binge Guide E3 FOX crime YouTube Red Thanksgiving period drama biography boxoffice theme song IFC Films dceu Discovery Channel directors Best and Worst movies screenings Star Wars Set visit HBO 2016 LGBTQ Universal Musical First Reviews hist APB science fiction Tomatazos Freeform Election Hallmark Christmas movies Rom-Com dragons Tumblr crime drama Western TBS 21st Century Fox Anna Paquin Winter TV cars First Look 2020 adventure war 45 Biopics Opinion Shudder diversity cancelled television composers political drama YouTube VH1 Elton John casting BBC America HBO Max Summer The CW Warner Bros. Nat Geo BBC foreign werewolf discovery DC Comics batman Logo Nickelodeon Teen Spring TV medical drama spy thriller WarnerMedia Mary Tyler Moore MSNBC Walt Disney Pictures vampires FX Spectrum Originals Sundance Now Oscars History Holidays police drama RT21 Endgame mutant Sci-Fi TIFF MTV zombie Disney Channel Disney Plus blaxploitation Apple TV+ Emmys transformers independent jamie lee curtis DC streaming service sports Animation Awards Calendar New York Comic Con Kids & Family social media YouTube Premium joker Infographic Brie Larson Black History Month Action Red Carpet robots Acorn TV natural history Amazon Prime game of thrones ABC Family Black Mirror movie Mudbound Paramount book strong female leads Film Super Bowl Superheroes Christmas TCA 2017 series comics FXX Comedy Baby Yoda Crunchyroll psycho Rocky Television Academy 2019 OneApp MCU Comedy Central crime thriller reboot Fantasy Year in Review Britbox Sony Pictures GIFs Women's History Month Musicals Classic Film harry potter romance Rock 20th Century Fox ABC Fall TV SundanceTV romantic comedy Writers Guild of America unscripted disaster CNN Lifetime Christmas movies Emmy Nominations Sneak Peek Nominations Peacock CW Seed Certified Fresh slashers Comics on TV facebook USA Tubi Watching Series TLC Pirates canceled TV shows Crackle Trivia CMT dramedy spanish language American Society of Cinematographers golden globes Amazon Prime Video Sundance Pet Sematary Columbia Pictures Marvel A&E President cops halloween The Witch Country game show finale anime cooking BET Comic Book travel Marvel Television Trophy Talk green book Ellie Kemper See It Skip It Awards Tour what to watch Valentine's Day Syfy Hallmark CBS All Access quibi aliens Box Office X-Men Music serial killer TNT miniseries San Diego Comic-Con TV renewals DirecTV Chernobyl zombies spinoff Reality Competition Spike OWN cancelled TV shows Stephen King Masterpiece cartoon Esquire Heroines TV Land Premiere Dates NBC teaser Video Games cats Disney+ Disney Plus streaming Winners adaptation GoT revenge Cosplay PBS TCA Winter 2020 binge PaleyFest south america sitcom space witnail talk show TruTV historical drama GLAAD free movies award winner LGBT singing competition NYCC DC Universe cancelled TV series comic Star Trek Disney Cartoon Network Vudu USA Network doctor who richard e. Grant television tv talk Mary poppins 24 frames 71st Emmy Awards The Purge docudrama christmas movies Ovation nature TCA Podcast kids Marathons cults canceled Toys stand-up comedy Polls and Games Mindy Kaling Marvel Studios Quiz Dark Horse Comics Superheroe sag awards Turner Classic Movies Cannes Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt