Minhal Baig's 'We Grown Now' premiered on opening night of the 59th Chicago International Film Festival

Exclusive: Willie ‘JR’ Fleming Talks About ‘We Grown Now’

Chicago activist and entrepreneur Willie ‘JR’ Fleming attended the Chicago International Film Festival’s Opening Night Block Party with his sister Marlene Mcintosh on Wednesday October 11. Intending to see Minhal Baig’s feature, We Grown Now, he shared a few minutes with Screen reporter Dan Patton to talk about his contribution to the film, his respect for the filmmaker and his life in Chicago.

“It’s a film by a young lady from Rogers Park,” he said. “She interviewed me about Cabrini-Green because she wanted to make a movie about Cabrini.”

Cabrini-Green was a Chicago public housing project built between 1942 and 1962 that served as a home to more than 15,000 people at its peak. It is also the place where Fleming grew up.

We Grown Now is a 1990s coming-of-age story about two Cabrini residents, 10-year-old friends Eric and Malik. According to Huffington Post’s Candice Frederick, the film is “a satisfying experience of home through a child’s eyes.” Cast members include Giovani Chambers, Lil Rel Howery and Jurnee Smollett.

Fleming expects We Grown Now to “come out great” because, among other things, Baig is a Chicagoan and a “great person.”

America’s longest-running competitive festival, the Chicago International Film Festival runs October 11 – 22, 2023. It features screenings at AMC NEWCITY 14, the Music Box Theatre, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the Chicago History Museum, the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and pop-up screenings at the Hamilton Park Cultural Center in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood and Harrison Park in Pilsen.



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