“The Return” explores the experience of students and alumni from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) through the prism of homecoming celebrations and traditions.
|Comcast NBCUniversal is excited to announce the exclusive premiere of the documentary film The Return from record-breaking film and Emmy-nominated TV producer Will Packer. Packer, a magna cum laude graduate of Florida A&M University, is a longtime supporter of HBCU initiatives and has chosen to convey the special role they play for their students and alumni. The documentary arrives Thursday, October 20 on the recently launched Black Experience on Xfinity Channel, a first-of-its-kind destination of Black entertainment featuring the ultimate in Black storytelling, available on X1, Flex, and on-the-go with the Xfinity Stream app and Xumo app. |
In 2020, the global Covid-19 pandemic put a pause on most large-scale college activities and sent students into virtual learning. After a year of lockdowns and sheltering in place, 2021 marked a return to campuses and the traditions that come with it. In the HBCU world, the biggest of these traditions is Homecoming, an annual pilgrimage that brings thousands of Alumni, students, family, and friends together in one place for a week-long celebration. The Return explores the HBCU experience through the prism of these celebrations.
“As a product and supporter of HBCUs, I am honored to support Ali and his vision of this love letter. Many thanks to Comcast’s Black Experience on Xfinity channel for their continued support for these institutions,” said Will Packer.
Will Packer has produced or executive produced a wide range of movies that have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide at the box office, including 10 films that have opened at number one, and, according to Blackfilm.com, Packer ranks #1 in terms of worldwide box office and studio profit based on the 14 films he has produced over the past decade.
The Return was shot in 2021 during the pandemic when many schools either canceled or limited homecoming. The team traveled to a few of the schools that decided to move forward with Homecoming events last year, including Jackson State, Florida A&M University, and North Carolina Central.
The film features candid conversations with alumni from Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta, Howard, FAMU, Tennessee State, Jackson State, NC A&T, and more. The many stories they tell explain the unique and shared experience of attending an HBCU. Notable Alumni featured in the film include Cortez Bryant-Music, Manager, Jackson State University, and Packer, who attended FAMU.Some of the topics covered in the film include:
|Establishing HomeThe film explores the decision-making process to attend an HBCU over the more mainstream, predominantly White institutions. While it can be an easy decision for some, for others it can be a difficult one.|
The Safe SpaceThe HBCU experience doesn’t reflect the real world. This is often one of the lines high school students hear from guidance counselors and alumni upon deciding to attend an HBCU. However, this is precisely the reason Homecoming is so special to so many. The HBCU is a place for coming of age and finding one’s place in the world outside of the gaze of mainstream America.
The ReturnThe experience of “The Return” is about coming back to that safe space again and again. It’s about greeting old friends and familiar faces, while navigating all that Homecoming has to offer. This includes beloved traditions like The Yard, The Day Party, The Parade, The Tailgate, The Game, and The Bands
The GiftHomecoming isn’t just parties and fanfare. It is also one of the most important times for giving back. The film dives into this process and what it means to these institutions, as well as the philosophy on giving from administrators and alumni.