The film was picked up by a small independent distributor, World Northal, and played in a few area theatres in 1978. "When the black kids started showing up to the 'white' theatres, the distribution company was forced to pull it and later re-positioned it as a blaxploitation picture calling it MY MAIN MAN FROM STONY ISLAND," recalls Davis. "Unfortunately, that confused our target audience."
Featuring an ensemble cast of notable actors and musical stars, STONY ISLAND, has been completely restored with a state-of-the-art, digitally re-mastered soundtrack.
In Time Out Chicago, Jake Austen wrote, "In a postblaxploitation, pre–hip-hop era, there was little place for any integrated urban film, let alone one with artistic ambitions. Despite critical praise and festival-circuit success, the film died in limited distribution. "White theater owners were afraid to show it because black kids were coming into the neighborhood, scaring off the trade," Davis recalls. Stony Island has never been released on any home-video format." >> Read Jake Austen's Time Out Chicago
Before making Hollywood hits such as THE FUGITIVE, UNDER SIEGE, HOLES and THE GUARDIAN Andrew Davis' first love was music. His first feature film, STONY ISLAND, was a soulful, feel-good tale about the hopes and aspirations of a group of young musicians who form an R&B band in their multi-racial Chicago neighborhood. Davis wrote and produced the film with fellow Chicagoan Tamar Hoffs after working together on the Tony Curtiss gangster movie, LEPKE. STONY ISLAND featured the cinematic acting debuts of Dennis Franz, Susanna Hoffs, Rae Dawn Chong, and Meshach Taylor, with musical performances by saxophone legend Gene 'Daddy G' Barge, the Stony Island Band, and multi-Grammy award winning jazz artist David Sanborn.
In his directorial debut, filmmaker Davis took a page from the book of Italian Neo-Realism when he crafted this gritty, heartfelt homage to the people living in the inner-city Chicago neighborhood known as Stony Island, where music has been a common language. When the film was finished and released in 1979, this hallmark of independent filmmaking was hailed by critics for its fresh, original approach to the musical genre at the US Film Festival (the forerunner of Sundance.)
During a robust festival run, the film received energetic applause from critics across the nation.