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Official Netflix Original Documentary trailer
A missing piece of the puzzle behind the success of some of the top entertainers in Hollywood was revealed with the recent release of director, writer and producer, Reginald Hudlin’s documentary, The Black Godfather, which premiered on Netflix on June 7 and was among a select number of spotlight films screened at the 2019 American Black Film Festival (ABFF).
The Netflix Original Documentary centers on the pivotal influence, music executive and behind-the-scenes deal broker, Clarence Avant had on behalf of individuals from Hollywood to the White House. Hudlin brings together an eclectic mix of musicians, singers, producers, politicians, sports figures, and more, who laud Avant for his irreverent, take-no-prisoners approach in wielding his influence whether dropping his unfiltered wisdom in the personal lives of one of his mentees or stepping in and brokering a deal between Hollywood’s top brass and an up-and-coming talent he believed in.
Watching the documentary leaves you with the feeling that you have been witness to an invaluable piece of history and received a glimpse at a recently uncovered treasure as manifested through the personal testimonies of Hollywood’s elite and the nation’s top political figures and sports legends. Avant left an indelible mark on the lives of a broad range of individuals from Quincy Jones, Bill Withers, and Michael Jackson to Andrew Young, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and countless others. Despite his impact in the lives of so many diverse individuals, no one seems to pinpoint exactly the “it” factor that Avant possesses – but it is clear they have been benefactors of his impact and carry a debt of gratitude for his indispensable influence.
“You say ‘Clarence Avant’ and the doors open and the seas would part …,” said music producer, Terry Lewis of Avant’s acclaim. Lewis applauded Avant in the documentary for his influence in “…the record business, in Hollywood, civil rights, anything that had to do with the rights of people.”
Musician Bill Withers described him as a person who puts people together. “His tools are his ability to manipulate people, I don’t mean that in a bad way, but if he needs to do it in a bad way, he can do that too.”
President Obama who appears in the documentary, said of Avant, “One thing he understands is that there is different kinds of power; there is the power that needs the spotlight, but there is also the power that comes from being behind the scenes.”
Avant’s guiding principle, sprinkled throughout the documentary, is “everything begins and ends with money,” but the many who he served “as a bridge for,” as President Barack Obama describes in the documentary, consider his life-changing influence and impact on their lives priceless.
The Netflix Original Documentary The Black Godfather was one of the featured spotlight screenings shown during this year’s ABFF along with Warner Bros. Shaft, Netflix’s Beats, FX Networks Snowfall, OWN Networks David Makes Man and Episodic World Premiere of Ambitions, WarnerMedia’s LAFF Mobb’s Laugh Tracks, Cap, and Fatherhood: The Foundation of the Black Family.
Empower Magazine gives the documentary Five-Stars for an exemplary spotlight on the life of a Hollywood industry icon – one whose greatest lesson and expectation of those he mentored and influenced, was to model his example and find opportunities to give back to the lives of others.