The Hate U Give is based on a YA novel, but movie audiences of all ages will find it honest, relatable and relevant.
The film centers on a teenager named Starr who’s balancing life in a predominantly black neighborhood with expectations at a predominantly white high school.
She’s grown used to code-switching - acting like a different person, depending on who she's around.
"I often say the only way we can change the world is to change the world around us,” said author Angie Thomas. “That's the first step. And the best way to do that is to understand what it's like to be someone who isn't like us."
Incredibly, Thomas based Starr on the real-life actress who'd eventually play her: Amandla Steinberg.
"It's incredible to even think about because I'm inspired by the character on the daily," Steinberg said.
Russell Hornsby, who starred on the Portland-based show GRIMM, plays Starr's father. He’s riveting from the very first scene in the movie, in which he gives his children "the talk" about how to behave around law enforcement.
The scene was shot without any rehearsals.
"It's one of those things that’s just impulsive,” Hornsby said. “When we were just talking through it, I started to get choked up.”
Starr's world is upended when a childhood friend is shot and killed by a police officer. What happens next is both painful and powerful to watch.
"I'm thankful because I had a family member that happened to. I'm thankful that it's being shown on a big screen so people can understand what we go through in low-income communities, when we don't have a voice,” said actress Dominique Fishback.
The Hate U Give is rated PG-13 and opens in Seattle on October 12.