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Sorry to Bother You

Producers Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Charles D. King, George Rush, Jonathan Duffy, Kelly Williams


In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, black telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success—which propels him into a macabre universe.

About The Team

Boots Riley (WriterDirector) Boots Riley has rocked national and international audiences for 20 years as the songwriter, producer, and frontman for The Coup — a radical funk/punk/hip-hop band from Oakland. He’s also known as the frontman and lyricist of Street Sweeper Social Club, formed with Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine). Riley has penned six albums for The Coup, all receiving widespread critical acclaim, with two of them named “Pop Album of The Year” by Washington Post and Associated Press, and “Hip Hop Album of The Year” by Rolling Stone.

New York Post says “Boots Riley ranks as some kind of genius.” Jeff Chang calls him “one of the most influential poets and thinkers of this generation.” Stereogum says “Boots Riley is a national treasure.” While renown philosopher Slavoj Zizek says, “the very existence of a person like Boots Riley is a miracle.”

On the intersection of art and political organizing — he’s delivered lectures at Harvard, Stanford, CalTech, Oberlin, Evergreen, Clark Atlanta, Western Michigan, UW Madison, Hunter College, Drake, Brandeis, Concordia, Goldsmiths, University of Florida, Università IUAV di Venezia, University of Melbourne, University of Oregon, University Of Otago, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, UCSC, and The Schomburg, among other places.

Boots Riley grew up in theater. His grandmother, Anita Patterson, was the director of Oakland Ensemble Theater in the 70s and 80s. He spent many summers with rehearsals around him, directions being yelled out, and costumes being made — while helping with mundane gopher duties.

As a teenager, he joined Berkeley’s Black Repertory Theater — writing, directing, and performing plays in what was then a small, but reputable, storefront theater.

In high school, he was tasked by the drama class with writing the school play. It was to be an Oakland version of West Side Story called “Eastside Story,” and all the songs were to be raps. Although he had no experience as a rapper at that point he wrote the raps for the play, and performed them. He didn’t get booed. Theater was actually his first foray into Hip-Hop.

Boots attended SF State’s film school, but quit in his third year after being offered a recording deal with Wild Pitch/EMI Records. He’s a had a hand in 19 music videos and directed the video to The Coup’s “Me And Jesus The Pimp In A ’79 Granada Last Night” and the documentary short, Eating Forever.

During this same period, Boots was involved in many facets of grassroots organizing. He’s headed up campaigns, helped to organize protests and work stoppages, and has been in situations where he’s had to coordinate decisions and plans with groups of others amid tear gas, smoke bombs, and bean bags being shot at them. He’s ready for his first feature now.

His book of poetry and anecdotes, Tell Homeland Security — We Are The Bomb is out now on Haymarket Press.