Stringbean and Marcus, a movie that had its beginnings at the Sundance Lab in 1999 and whose screenplay was the first to receive a Pew Fellowship (the Pew Foundation gives grants of $50,000 "to artists working in a wide variety of performing, visual, and literary disciplines" - sort of a really, really small version of a MacArthur Genius Award), will finally be made this summer. Written and to be directed by first-timer Tanya Hamilton, the movie, set in 1978, tells the story of "the broken love affair between two former Black Panther members...and is told through the eyes of an adolescent girl." According to Hamilton, her concern is less with race than it is with a world in which "ordinary people [live] under extraordinary circumstances, trying to outrun this past they all have."

Though no contracts have actually been signed, Hamilton reports that she has her stars: Mos Def and Sophie Okonedo have "committed" to the project. Wow - one of the rappers-turned-actors who is actually very good at both, and an Oscar nominee? Not bad for a first feature with a tiny budget. Hamilton expects to sign those contracts shortly before shooting begins this July, in Philadelphia.