The southwestern region of Germany is known more for its baroque architecture and breathtaking landscapes than for its contributions to hip-hop culture. But, however unlikely, Heidelberg is the setting of Morris From America, a dramedy about a black American teenager who’s struggling to break into the rap scene while weathering the doldrums of life amongst the predominantly white Europeans. 16-year-old Markees Christmas stars as Morris From America’s eponymous would-be music sensation, who gets dragged across the globe by his widowed dad—The Office’s Craig Robinson, oozing paternal charisma—for a soccer coaching job. Carla Juri (Wetlands) and newcomer Lina Keller co-star as Morris’ German tutor and the object of his infatuation, respectively.
After seeing the film at Sundance in January, The A.V. Club’s A.A. Dowd described it as “a sweet if highly conventional addition to that most Sundance-approved of genres, the coming-of-age story.” Writer-director Chad Hartigan says that his follow-up to the 2013 festival favorite This Is Martin Bonner began its life as a pseudo-autobiographical account of his experiences as the son of an Irish dad and American mom growing up in Cyprus, before he purposefully pushed it away from his own life story. “I didn’t want just to make an autobiographical film,” he told CW Atlanta recently, “but I wanted to use those elements to tell someone else’s story.”
Morris From America will hit movie screens August 19, but if you want to see it early, it’ll also be available on DirecTV starting July 7.