‘Roxanne Roxanne’ Director on Shooting in Notorious Queensbridge Housing Project (Video)

Sundance 2017: “Shout out to Queensbridge, they hosted us really nicely and we were there for a while,” director Michael Larnell tells TheWrap

Even though she stars opposite the wildly talented, Oscar-nominated Mahershala Ali, newcomer Chanté Adams steals the show as the titular character in the hip-hop biopic “Roxanne Roxanne.”

Writer-director Michael Larnell (“Cronies”), aided by producers Forest Whitaker and Pharrell Williams, tells a powerful true story of a spirited girl who must survive a hard life of poverty, absent parents, assault and spousal abuse.

Set mostly in the 1980s, this engaging story focuses on a decade in the life of rapper Roxanne Shanté (Adams). A girl from the projects in Queens, she went from shoplifting to provide for her family to a glamorous hip-hop career.

“Shout out to Queensbridge, they hosted us really nicely and we were there for a while,” Larnell told TheWrap during the Sundance Film Festival, referring to the notorious Queensbridge Housing Projects where the gritty film was both set and shot.

Legendary in the Long Island community, the 3,142-unit complex has produced some of the biggest names in hip-hop, including the film’s subject and rappers such as Nas.

A well-acted, inspiring story of female empowerment, the captivating “Roxanne Roxanne” is as much about survival and the bonds of family as it is about busting rhymes.

“It’s a coming of age story but it is really about the strength of women,” Nia Long, who plays Roxanne’s mother, explained.

Long’s portrayal of Peggy is beautifully layered: She plays a weary mother of four girls, beaten down by misfortune, who alternates between ebullient warmth, practical tough love and bitter resentment. When a boyfriend (Zurich Buckner) steals her life savings, Peggy attempts to teach her girls never to trust men.

Shanté ignores her advice and learns lessons on her own.