Everyone in the entertainment business is talking about Precious.
Not only are Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry signed on as executive producers, but the film features acting cameos by BET legend Mo'Nique, singers Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz, and actress Paula Patton.
It's receiving raucous media hype from academics and reviewers in The New York Times, The New York Press, and the Washington Post for its dismal glimpse into inner-city African American domestic life. And it's attracted audiences, too, earning nearly four times its published production budget.
Set in Harlem in 1987, Precious is the story of a young black woman who has endured every imaginable societal horror: She is 300 pounds, illiterate, HIV-positive and pregnant with her second child, the product of her absentee father's rape. Her mother is an inconsolable monster who sabotages Precious' every aspiration and emotional and physical health. It is only with the aid of a social worker (Carey) and a caring teacher (Patton) that Precious has any chance at salvation on Earth.
Hoping to attract women and men in need of aid and information on domestic violence issues, WHBW is tabling the all-day event. "We are looking to do some outreach work and lay down some awareness about abuse," explains Amy Huckins-Noss, an Americorps/VISTA worker stationed at WHBW. "We'll be here to talk to, and [to] answer questions."
According to Huckins-Noss, domestic violence in families and in intimate relationships crosses all ethnicities, ages and regions. "It is not restricted to one specific area," she says. "In the U.S. alone, throughout a woman's lifetime, there is a one in four chance that she will be in an abusive relationship."
Domestic violence often goes underreported, and the narratives of battered women are either hushed or lost. Huckins-Noss hopes Precious will help open up the dialogue, historically kept behind domestic doors, to the public.
It may be a grueling two hours to sit through, but imagine the alternative — actually leading a life of such cruelty and abuse. That's all WHBW and Lee Daniels ask of you.
The idea for the benefit came from theater owner Merrill Jarvis III, who says he read about WHBW's current needs and wanted to help. Half of Friday's ticket sales ($5 of the $10 ticket) will go directly to WHBW. Film showings are at 1, 4, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Karen Tronsgard-Scott, director of the Vermont Network Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, will speak between the 7 and 9:30 p.m. showings. For more information and advance ticket sales, contact the Roxy. Precious will continue to play all week; check our showtimes for updates after that.