Netflix’s ‘Burning Sands’ Explores ‘Brotherhood’ and Dangers of Black Frat Housing

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By: Briana Phipps

Netflix is now streaming “Burning Sands,” a new original movie directed by Gerard McMurray that movie critics are calling a “must-see,” as it takes a disturbing look into the fraternity culture at historically black colleges and universities.

McMurray is making his feature film debut after serving as an associate producer on Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station.” “Burning Sands” features “American Crime’s” Trevor Jackson and Academy Award-nominated Alfre Woodard. According to mic.com, the story takes place during the Lambda Lambda Phi fraternity’s “hell week,” culminating in “hell night,” the last hurdle for the pledges at the fictional Frederick Douglass University.

Jackson portrays Zurich, a young man who has to juggle his relationships, schoolwork and responsibilities as a fraternity pledge, all while attempting to discover his own reasons for wanting to a fraternity. He is unable to answer that simple question when confronted by a big brother, per mic.com. 

While much of the film highlights illegal hazing in fraternities, director McMurray says “Burning Sands” is so much more deeper than that. He told Mic that his film “was not meant to be a national outcry,” stating that the story is “merely a tale about brotherhood and also the complicated path to manhood for black men.”

“Burning Sands” themes of brotherhood, family and unity are what drew Jackson to the lead role. He told Mic that he wanted be a part of this film to highlight the “unity between black men.”

“A lot of black men have a hard time showing affection and love to one another,” Jackson elaborated. “I think this film really shows the importance of unity and togetherness.” The actor was also drawn to McMurray “and his passion for the project,” as well as seeing the film as “a great opportunity acting-wise to grow and learn.”

Woodard’s Professor Hughes character tries to “save” Zurich, and at one point quotes Frederick Douglass, stating, “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

“It was an honor [working with Woodard],” Jackson explained. “She is a beautiful spirit and so encouraging and kind.”

He added that “it is amazing to meet someone that you looked up to and have wanted to work with,” commenting that “it is easy to act when you’re acting with someone like that.”

Jackson is hoping that his performance in “Burning Sands” leads to even more diverse roles that allow him to grow personally as well as professionally. 

“I want to continue to unravel myself and experience different parts of myself to be able to tap into different characters,” he explained. “I love film; I love watching movies; I love great actors. I love seeing someone transform on screen.”

This news was first reported by EURWeb.

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