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June 25, 2020

Idris Elba appears in first photo from Philly-filmed 'Concrete Cowboys'

Movie based on city's Black horseback riding tradition to make festival debut in September

Film Movies

Idris Elba will star in 'Concrete Cowboys,' an adaptation of a novel examining the tradition of urban horseback riding in Philadelphia's Black communities.

Upcoming movies have receded into the background thus far in 2020 (thanks a lot, coronavirus) but the highly-anticipated "Concrete Cowboys," filmed in Philadelphia and led by Idris Elba, is only a few months away from making its festival debut.

Elba was in Philadelphia last summer learning how to ride horseback and filming for the adaptation based on Greg Neri's novel, "Ghetto Cowboys." Now we have a first look at Elba in the movie, flanked by co-star Caleb McLaughlin of "Stranger Things."

Additional cast members seen in another photo include Jharrel Jerome, Lorraine Toussaint, Byron Bowers and Method Man.

Elba plays Harp, a North Philadelphia father who mentors his 15-year-old son, Cole, in the urban pastime of horseback riding at Fletcher Street Stables.

Abandoned by his mother, Cole reunites with Harp and initially shows disinterest toward horseback riding. But when he learns that the city of Philadelphia is threatening to shut down the local stable, he and Harp fight alongside their cowboy companions to preserve a piece of little-known history.

The real-life, long tradition of urban horseback riding in Philadelphia's Black communities remains strong at Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, Work to Ride and the Black Cowboys Association.

One of the locations noted in last year's shoot was a SEPTA train tunnel in Spring Garden. Elba, who was reportedly working with a speech therapist to master the Philadelphia accent, was spotted in Chestnut Hill during his time here.

Digital Spy reported the film likely will feature themes of unemployment, drug use and gentrification — issues that have affected Philadelphia's riding clubs in real life.

"Concrete Cowboys" is expected to debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.