Grassroots support for Boots Riley film 'Sorry to Bother You' sells out shows in Philly

The science-fiction comedy film has a growing buzz.

Cherri Gregg
July 19, 2018 - 8:17 pm
Sorry to bother you

Cherri Gregg | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Philadelphia fans sold out shows this week for a new film titled "Sorry to Bother You." The science-fiction comedy film has a growing buzz, in large part because of its focus on grass roots activism. 

"Most people want the world to be different...and people want to change things," says Boots Riley, who wrote and directed the film. 

A rapper, musician, activist and poet, Riley is most known as the lead vocalist of "The Coup." "Sorry to Bother You" is his directorial debut. The film, set in Oakland, tells the fictional story of African-American telemarketer, Cassius Green, who uses his "white voice" to get ahead at work. Once he gets a promotion, Green gets caught in a labor conspiracy and is given a choice between "selling out" to make millions at the expense of humanity or joining the labor movement.

"There's two kinds of code switching; one where you are over the phone hoping to get more confidence from the white customer by hiding that you are black," says Riley, "the other is where people know you're black, but you're saying I'm a safe one."

The film uses unexpected twists and turns to illustrate the struggles of organized labor by weaving in issues of race and class. It also hones in on the battle for power between the one percent and everyone else. One thing the film is not is predictable. The characters do not follow a typical Hollywood storyline.

"There's rebellion in this movie," Riley said, "that's because there's rebellion in the world."

It stars Lakeith Stanfield, Tess Thompson, Jermain Fowler, Terry Crews, Omari Hardwick, David Cross, Danny Glover, Armie Hammer and Stevn Yeun.  

"Sorry To Bother You" is playing at more than 1,000 theaters nationwide.