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How to Watch, Stream Craig Brewer’s ‘The Poor & Hungry’ for Free

By meerna Jul11,2024
How to Watch, Stream Craig Brewer’s ‘The Poor & Hungry’ for Free

Now you can watch Memphis director Craig Brewer’s debut feature film for free.

This week, Brewer released “The Poor & Hungry” on YouTube.

Shot on digital video (a novelty at the time), the Memphis-set film has been hard to watch in recent years. It’s not available on major streaming platforms, and the DVD and Blu-ray editions Brewer released in 2013 after restoring and remastering the film are no longer available on Amazon.

Brewer said, “Everybody asks me that about ‘The Poor and the Hungry: ‘How can I see that?'”

Since Brewer owns the video and doesn’t have to “monetize” it, he decided to make it free on his YouTube channel, @MyBrewTube. “What you care about most with any video is that people watch it,” he said.

Shot in Memphis for $20,000 with a small local cast and crew, the black-and-white film caught the attention of film festivals and launched Brewer’s successful professional career. His next film was the 2005 Oscar-winning Memphis film “Hustle & Flow”; his latest project is the upcoming “Fight Night: The Million Dollar Heist,” an eight-episode series starring Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard and Samuel L. Jackson that debuts Sept. 5 on the streaming service Peacock.

Brewer also posted on YouTube “Poor Man’s Process: The Making of The Poor & Hungry,” a retrospective documentary created for the 2013 Blu-ray by Memphis filmmaker Morgan Jon Fox (whose latest effort, “The Hobby,” explored the crazy, opulent world of card collecting). The late John Singleton, the director of “Boyz N The Hood,” who produced “Hustle & Flow” and Brewer’s next film, “Black Snake Moan,” is one of the subjects of the documentary.

Also new on Brewer’s channel is “Blood & Roots,” a vampire short film directed by Brewer’s daughter, Wren Brewer, now 16, and written by Brewer and Crosstown High School classmate Evie Turley, with another classmate, Bridie Maki, as producer. Created in collaboration with friends from Crosstown and other high schools, the film premiered last year at the L.A. Horror Film Festival; it also won the “Audience Award” at the 2023 Indie Memphis Youth Film Fest.

Brewer said part of his motivation for putting “The Poor & Hungry” on YouTube was to encourage young people to watch the film. He said his daughter and her friends often watch the videos on laptops and even cell phones.

“I came to this big realization when I looked at all the ‘Poor & Hungry’ DVDs and Blu-rays that I have, that my daughter’s generation doesn’t know what to do with them,” he said. “They don’t even have anything to play them on.”

The story of a small-time car thief (Eric Tate), a punk street hustler (Lindsey Roberts), and a classical cellist (Lake Latimer), “The Poor & Hungry” opened on May 16, 2000, at the Malco Ridgeway Four. The event proved to be a milestone in Memphis filmography, inspiring a mini-boom of like-minded local low-budget filmmakers and presaging a trend in do-it-yourself digital storytelling that would dominate independent cinema for years to come, providing a forum for artists like David Lowery and Greta Gerwig years before they hit the mainstream with films like “The Green Knight” and “Barbie.”

In August 2000, “The Poor & Hungry” won Best Digital Feature at the Hollywood Film Festival, which helped pave the way for “Hustle & Flow.” The following month, the film began a six-week run at Malco Studio on the Square that recouped its production costs. “That run was the one that made my money back,” Brewer said.

For locals, “The Poor & Hungry” now functions as a kind of time capsule to turn-of-the-21st-century Memphis. Among the locations featured in the film is the shuttered P&H Cafe on Madison Avenue. The bar provided Brewer not only with a lively set and a cameo appearance (the bar’s owner, the late Wanda Wilson) but also with the title of his movement: “Poor & Hungry” was a comical nickname for “P&H.”

John Beifuss covers popular culture and features for The Commercial Appeal. You can reach him at [email protected]

By meerna

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