Tag Archives: Ava DuVernay

Winners & Losers at Golden Globes & BAFTA Exemptions

Written by: Graeme Wood
12/01/15

golden-globe-awards-golden-

The announcement of the nominees for this year’s BAFTA Film Awards saw some obvious commercial and critical nods but, and more surprisingly, saw several startling omissions. While box office headliners The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Boyhood and Birdman were shoe-ins for Best Film and leading actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne were obvious contenders for Best Actor, it was more surprising to see Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” lead the nominations with 11 nods including Best Film, Original Screenplay and Best Actor for Ralph Fiennes.

Acclaimed Belfast thriller ’71 was only nominated in the Outstanding British Film category, along with Pride, Paddington and Under The Skin. Yann Demange director of ’71 has been nominated for Outstanding Debut by A British Director along with writer Gregory Burke.

The controversial omissions came with no nominations at all for the critically acclaimed civil rights drama ‘Selma’, although the film won’t be released in the UK until February it has already scored big in the US and apparently the panel have seen screeners of the film and it is eligible for this year’s awards. The snub appears all the more bizarre given the host of British talent on display in the movie – David Olywelo has already been nominated for several awards and his performance acclaimed by critics. There is also a further notable presence of Brit actors in the cast with Tim Roth, Tom Wilkinson and Carmen Ejogo.

Of concern now to the producers of Selma is that a reported 50 BAFTA Awards voters are also Academy Awards voters which may in turn lead to a lack of Oscar nominations for the film and its crew.

Mike Leigh’s biographical drama ‘Mr Turner’ had four BAFTA nominations though it was a surprise to see this miss out on inclusion in major categories such as Best Film and Best Actor for Timothy Spall’s acclaimed titular performance.

High profile American films “American Sniper” and “Unbroken” also missed out on nominations along with their directors Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie.

Elsewhere ‘Selma’ has featured heavily in this year’s other award lists with nominations for Best Actor, Best Film and the historic Best Director Golden Globe nomination for Ava DuVernay. The Globe Ceremony, was held on January 11th and despite high expectations for ‘Selma’ the film only managed to pick up the Award for Best Original Song – Glory written and performed by John Legend and Common.

The runaway success of the Globe’s was Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’, picking up the Gobes for Best Picture, Director and Best Supporting Actress going to Patricia Arquette for her performance in the film. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” managed to nab the award for Best Picture-Musical or Comedy only, while Britain’s Eddie Redmayne picked up the Best Actor Globe for his performance as Stephen Hawking in ‘The Theory of Everthing’. Michael Keaton picked up the award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his career defining performance in “Birdman”, while Julianna Moore picked up the Best Actress Drama award for “Still Alice” and Amy Adams came away with the Best Actress-Musical or Comedy Globe for her role in the Tim Burton directed ‘Big Eyes’.

A disappointing result then for supporters of “Selma” who felt the film deserved greater recognition particularly for its director and lead actor David Oyelowo. The film meanwhile has 8 nominations in the NAACP Image Awards, to be held on February 6th, including Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Actor, Director, Supporting Actor and Actress. The film will be up against Amma Asante’s “Belle” for Best Picture and Ava Duvernay will be up against Amma Asante who is also nominated for “Belle”. Gugu Mbatha Raw is nominated for Best Actress also for ‘Belle’ and faces competition from Quvenzhane Wallis, ‘Annie’, Taraji P.Henson, ‘No Good Deed’, Tessa Thompson, ‘Dear White People’, and Viola Davis ‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby”, strong competition indeed. ‘Selma’ has also picked up five nominations in the Independent Spirit Awards though surprisingly didn’t pick up any nominations from the Screen Actors Guild or the Producers Guild Awards. All eyes will now be on the much anticipated Oscar Nominations to be held on January 15th.

The BAFTA Film Awards will be held at London’s Royal Opera House on Sunday 8th February 2015.
Read The Guardian article on the BAFTA nominations here:
http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2015/jan/09/bafta-nominations-2015-a-tough-turner-events-and-a-hard-selma

See a full list of the BAFTA 2015 nominations here:
http://awards.bafta.org/award/2015/film

 


 

All The Winners At The 2015 Golden Globes

Courtesy of www.buzzfeed.com
Written by: Emily Orley
12/01/15

Best Motion Picture Drama

Best Motion Picture Drama

IFC Films

Winner: Boyhood

Foxcatcher
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything

Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama

Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama

Liam Daniel / Focus Features

Winner: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
David Oyelowo, Selma

Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama

Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama

Sony Classics

Winner: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical

Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical

20th Century Fox

Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Birdman
Into the Woods
Pride
St. Vincent

Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical

Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Winner: Michael Keaton, Birdman

Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Bill Murray, St. Vincent
Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes

Best Actress in a TV Drama

Best Actress in a TV Drama

Mark Schafer / Showtime

Winner: Ruth Wilson, The Affair

Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Robin Wright, House Of Cards

Best Director

Best Director

IFC Films

Winner: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ava Duvernay, Selma
David Fincher, Gone Girl
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman

Best Actor in a TV Drama

Best Actor in a TV Drama

Nathaniel Bell / Netflix

Winner: Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Clive Owen, The Knick
Liev Schrieber, Ray Donovan
James Spader, The Blacklist
Dominic West, The Affair

Best TV Drama

Best TV Drama

Showtime

Winner: The Affair, Showtime

Downton Abbey, PBS
Game of Thrones, HBO
The Good Wife, CBS
House of Cards, Netflix

Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie

Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie

Sundance TV

Winner: Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
Frances O’Connor, The Missing
Allison Tolman, Fargo

Best Foreign Language Film

Best Foreign Language Film

Sony Pictures Classics

Winner: Leviathan, Russia

Force Majeure Turist, Sweden
Gett: The Trial of Viviane, Israel
Ida, Poland/Denmark
Tangerines Mandariinid, Estonia

Best Actor in a TV Comedy

Best Actor in a TV Comedy

Amazon Studios

Winner: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

Louis C.K., Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Ricky Gervais, Derek
William H. Macy, Shameless

Best Screenplay

Best Screenplay

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Winner: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo, Birdman

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

IFC

Winner: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Animated Feature Film

Best Animated Feature Film

DreamWorks Animation

Winner: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Big Hero Six
The Book of Life
Boxtrolls
The Lego Movie

Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical

Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical

The Weinstein Company

Winner: Amy Adams, Big Eyes

Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
Helen Mirren, The Hundred-Foot Journey
Julianne Moore, Map to the Stars
Quvenzhané Wallis, Annie

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie

Jojo Whilden / HBO

Winner: Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart

Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Colin Hanks, Fargo
Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

Best Original Song

Winner: “Glory,” John Legend and Common (Selma)

“Big Eyes,” Lana del Rey (Big Eyes)
“Mercy Is,” Patty Smith and Lenny Kaye (Noah)
“Opportunity,” Greg Kurstin, Sia Furler, and Will Gluck (Annie)
“Yellow Flicker Beat,” Lorde (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1)

Best Original Score

Best Original Score

Focus Features

Winner: Jóhann Jóhannsson, The Theory of Everything

Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Gone Girl
Antonio Sanchez, Birdman
Hans Zimmer, Interstellar

Best TV Comedy

Best TV Comedy

Amazon

Winner: Transparent, Amazon

Girls, HBO
Jane The Virgin, The CW
Orange Is the New Black, Netflix
Silicon Valley, HBO

Best Actress in a TV Comedy

Best Actress in a TV Comedy

Tyler Golden/The CW

Winner: Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin

Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black

Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie

Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie

Chris Large/FX

Winner: Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo

Martin Freeman, Fargo
Woody Harrelson, True Detective
Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart

Best Mini-Series or TV Movie

Best Mini-Series or TV Movie

Chris Large / FX

Winner: Fargo, FX

The Missing, Starz
The Normal Heart, HBO
Olive Kitteridge, HBO
True Detective, HBO

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie

Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Winner: Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey

Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Allison Janney, Mom
Michelle Monaghan, True Detective

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Daniel McFadden

Winner: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

‘Selma’ Director Ava DuVernay Calls Racist Sony Emails ‘Sad, Limited, Crass’

Taken from The Huffington Post (Black Voices)
Written By Christopher Rosen
15.12.14

 

AVA-DUVERNAY

In a new interview with The Daily Beast, “Selma” director Ava DuVernay has called leaked emails between Sony co-chair Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin that mocked the film taste of President Barack Obama “sad, limited, crass.”

DuVernay said she found out about the emails shortly after becoming the first black woman ever nominated for Best Director at the Golden Globes.

“I thought it was a great gift to me to be reminded of that kind of sad, limited, crass view of the work that people do in this industry who are not from the dominant culture,” she said. “It was a gift to me to be reminded on that in that moment when there were a lot of shining lights on me and hoopla around the Globes. It was sobering, and it provided a moment of clarity that I’m thankful for as I move forward.”

In the emails, Rudin and Pascal joked about the kinds of movies President Obama might enjoy. “I bet he likes Kevin Hart,” Rudin wrote.

“I made a series of remarks that were meant only to be funny, but in the cold light of day, they are in fact thoughtless and insensitive,” Rudin said in a statement to Deadline.com. Pascal also apologized for the remarks.

This wasn’t the first time DuVernay spoke out about the emails. In a short interview with Variety last Thursday, the director said she had two words to pass along as commentary: “sickening and sad.” On Friday, during an interview with The Washington Post, DuVernay also called the emails a “gift.”

She explained:
Something about reading that on the day of these nominations, getting off the stage with John Lewis, the standing ovations, all these things that have been happening, to get back and say, Okay, this is what some folks really think. […] [It] was empowering to me, got me really clear, got me really focused. So I’m grateful.

DuVernay is among many people to comment on the emails in the wake of the hack.

“What is most troubling about these statements is that they reflect a continued lack of diversity in positions of power in major Hollywood studios. The statements clearly show how comfortable major studio powers are with racial language and marginalization,” Al Sharpton said in a statement.

“Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes weighed in on the notes via her Twitter account:

Speaking to CNN, Oprah Winfrey offered another take on the leaks. “I would hope that we would not stand in such harsh judgment of a moment in time where someone was hacked and their private conversations were put before the world,” Winfrey said.

Producer, director and actor Tyler Perry echoed Winfrey’s statements in a separate interview with CNN.

“I think we all make stupid mistakes, and may say stupid things or a joke here or there, but unfortunately this all came back to haunt [Amy Pascal],” Perry said. “But I do not believe she is a racist.”

 

News & Gossip: Quick Read

 

 

Once again we have searched the web for interesting news and thought these articles would be of interest to you. its a mixture of awards news, Steve McQueen’s new American TV show, diversity in American TV and new film releases.

We hope you enjoy this quick read:

 

Gotham-awards 2014Nominations for the 2014 Gotham Independent Film Awards have been announced with Richard Linklater’s Boyhood getting four nominations, including one for best feature.

Also among the nominations are Justine Simien (Dear White People) for Breakthrough Director, the UK’s Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond the Lights) for Best Actress and Tessa Thompson (Dear White People) for Breakthrough Actor.

Tessa Thompson

Tessa Thompson

Birdman and Boyhood have both been nominated for best feature, along with Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ira Sachs’ Love is Strange and Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin.

This year’s Gotham’s audience award will be determined by online voting from members of the independent Filmmaker Project, the organisation that presents the annual awards. The award ceremony itself will take place on December 1st at Cipriani Wall Street in New York, British actress Tilda Swinton will also be honoured at the Ceremony.
Read more and a full list of nominees here at Indie Wire:
http://www.indiewire.com/article/boyhood-leads-gotham-awards-nominations-20141023

KushNews_pagebreak

MCQUEEN PILOT SHOW HEADS TO HBO
steve-mcqueen

12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen has a new project underway and it’s heading to America’s premium cable network HBO.

McQueen co-wrote the pilot script alongside Matthew Michael Carnaham writer of futuristic zombie film World War Z. Both will exec-produce alongside See-Saw Films’ Iain Canning and Emile Sherman and HBO’s Russell Simmons.

The pilot titled “Codes of Conduct” is described as a provocative exploration of a young African-American man’s experience on entering New York high society, with a past that may not be all it seems. The lead character is Beverly Snow; a young man from Queens who is as talented as his is ambiguous. His self-confidence will enable him to break into the social circles of Manhattan’s elite, testing the boundaries of access and social mobility. The series will follow Beverly’s ability to grant him access to a life larger in every way than the one he was born into. His chameleon-like approach to life will test his nerve and allow him to take his future into his own hands.

McQueen has cast an unknown actor as the lead in the project, Devon Terrell, McQueen who will direct the pilot said of Terrell; “I needed to find an extraordinary actor. Although you’re trying to find devon-terrellsomething you recognise, it’s more about finding something you’re surprised by. Devon has this quality. It was no easy task casting the lead character of Beverly Snow and, with the help of HBO, we left no stone unturned. This was a 10 month intense process in which we came across many talented actors, but only one Beverly!”

Born in California but raised in Perth, Australia Terrell studied drama at Edith Cowan University. He was also accepted into Australia’s prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art in 2011 and has been developing his craft since. A transmission date for the pilot has not yet been set.

KushNews_pagebreak

NEW FILM: BEYOND THE LIGHTS
Check out this new clip of the next BET/Relativity Media-backed feature film from writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood, “Beyond the Lights,” which tells the story of Noni Jean, a hot new recording artist who has just won a Grammy and is primed for stardom. But the pressures of success compel her to nearly end her life until she is saved by a young police officer. They fall hard for each other, despite the protests of their parents who want each to focus on their own career ambitions. But he might be the missing piece to unlock her artistic potential.

beyond-the-lightsBythewood’s “Beyond the Lights” stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker, Danny Glover and Minnie Driver co-star.

Renowned black film producer’s Stephanie Allain and Reggie Rock Bythewood co-produce. Relativity president Tucker Tooley is exec producer with Matt Alvarez.

“Beyond the Lights” will be released theatrically in the US by Relativity, with an official release date now set for November 14, 2014. After that, it’ll have an exclusive television premier in the U.S. and South Africa on BET.

Sadly it doesn’t appear this film will get a UK release even though the lead character is supposed to come from London before moving the the states in the film.

Kush director Marlon Palmer met with Stepanie Allain early last year in London to discuss production locations here in the UK and the possibilities of assisting. Unfortunately nothing arose from this and it appears they made the entire film in the states.

This will be Bythewood’s first feature film directorial effort since 2008’s “The Secret Life of Bees”.

KushNews_pagebreak

DGA REPORT SHOWS NO IMPROVEMENT IN US DIVERSITY HIRING

The results from the latest survey carried out by the Directors Guild of America have shocked some within the profession while confirming the fears of others. The DGA survey covered more than 3,500 episodes of US Television and revealed that minorities and women haven’t achieved significant progress in directing TV series.

Caucasian directors accounted for 81% of all prime-time episodes while only 14% of female directors where hired during the past season.

The 14% of female directors matches similar numbers for the previous season of American TV. Paris Barclay the DGA president said ‘Unfortunately, it can be shockingly difficult to convince the people who control the hiring to make even a small improvement to their hiring practices. But the end result is something worth fighting for”.

The report showed that some of the top US shows had not employed female or minority directors, these included; Boardwalk Empire, Fargo, Hannibal, Eastbound and Down and Resurrection.

Read the full report on the Directors Guild of America site here:

KushNews_pagebreak

 

SELMA STAR PRAISES PITT’S POWER AND CONSCIENCENESS:
selma_david-oyelowo

UK Actor David Oyelowo, star of Selma, The Butler, Interstellar and TV’s Spooks has praised Brad Pitt stating the actor “uses his power to get things done that otherwise wouldn’t” Pitt, previously a producer on ‘12 Years A Slave’ put his weight behind Selma when the project originally stalled and managed to get it fast tracked into production.

Selma follows Martin Luther King’s 1965 landmark voting campaign and was produced by Oprah Winfrey from a script rewritten by Ava DuVernay from an original screenplay by Paul Webb.

Black film advocate and rising star director Ava DuVernay also directs.

Selma is due in UK Cinemas on 6th February 2015 and you can read an interview with David.
Oyelowo on his role as Dr Martin Luther King here:

Black Women at the Movies: Finally in vogue?

written by Montré Aza Missouri
08/08/2014

More than twenty years ago, bell hooks examined the ambiguous relationship between black women and the cinema and argued that black female audiences have to take on an “oppositional gaze” distinctive from the intentions of predominately white male directors. According to hooks, this gaze of resistance is required in order for black women to find pleasure in the cinema.Black feminist critic Jacqueline Bobo in Black Women As Cultural Readers later echoed hooks’ notions of an alternative positioning for black women spectators. However, both recognised a shift during the 1990’s with black female reaction to the film Daughters of the Dust (1991) directed by Julie Dash, the first African-American woman to direct a theatrically released feature length film.

Daughters of the Dust, a poetic narrative told from multiple generations of African American women about a family’s Great Migration journey from the rural south to the urban north, represents a black feminist cinematic style and the potential for a new black female spectatorship. Although Bobo identifies this newly carved space for black women audiences as starting years earlier, with black women’s reception to Steven Spielberg’s 1985 adaptation of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.

This reaction to The Color Purple is as key in understanding black female spectatorship, as Daughters of the Dust is pivotal to analysing black female authorship. At the time of The Color Purple’s release, male dominated African American civil rights organisations protested the film, with some going so far as to picket outside of the cinemas where the film had been released. This public outcry was over the stereotypical depiction of black men in a film directed by a white man, despite the film being an adaption of a novel by a black woman.

Amidst public and media debate, mainstream feminist organisations, primarily led by white women, were virtually silent regarding the film. They did not come out in large numbers to give counter arguments in support of a film based on a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by a celebrated figure of the women’s movement. Instead, African American women—mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts—quietly ignored the protests and went to the cinema. They watched The Color Purple and breathed a heavy sigh of relief that seemingly went unnoticed by the news media, mainstream feminists and conventional community representatives.

In the decade prior to The Color Purple, black female representations on screen had been marked by Blaxploitation female buck characters such as Cleopatra Jones and Foxy Brown along with 1970’s portrayals of what film historian Donald Bogle calls tragic “sisters-in-distress” in films like Mahogany (1975) and Claudine (1974).

These depictions were limited to black nationalist notions of acceptable black femininity, framed to further black patriarchy. The Color Purple instead allowed black women spectators to take pleasure in seeing black female agency with a cinematic adaptation of this womanist novel.

It is this history of black female images in film, along with notable and highly problematic films such as The Birth of a Nation (1915) and The Imitation of Life (1934) that I recently recalled in talking with a close friend and cinematographer. Beyond our regular conversations about black film aesthetics and lighting for black performers, on this occasion we discussed current trends in Hollywood and independent film and my friend remarked, “Black women are the ‘in’ thing now.”

For a moment, his comment took me aback. Remembering hooks’ and Bobo’s arguments in terms of black women having perhaps the most complex relationship with the cinema of any demographic group among western audiences, I found this statement puzzling for several reasons.

I found myself remembering the enormous struggle of film directors like Julie Dash. Dash had spent decades and experienced numerous rejections by white male studio executives in making Daughters of the Dust. The idea of black women as now being embraced by an industry, which for more than a century had rendered us invisible as far as having the agency to tell our own stories yet hypervisible in depicting us as the oversexualised other, is hard to make sense of.

There is also a new generation of black women filmmakers to consider. These women filmmakers from the hip-hop generation to the millennials, have come of age in a post-civil rights era (or what Mark Anthony Neal calls the “post-soul”). They have been influenced by black feminist scholars such as bell hooks and inspired by pioneering filmmakers such as Julie Dash, Darnell MartinCheryl Dunye and Ngozi Onwurah. Black women directors – Dee Rees,Tina MabryAva DuVernayTanya HamiltonNikyatu Jusu and Akosua Adoma Owusu – are pushing boundaries in terms of stories, cinematic styles and in reframing black female identities beyond the narrowly constructed images of black women found in mainstream film and media.

These new black filmmakers are honing their skills at a time when the conventional systems of Hollywood are experiencing a certain ‘democratisation’ of film and media. The replacing of high cost celluloid film by digital technology was perhaps the first step in fostering more low-budget independent productions. Nowadays, new media with crowd sourcing for film finance, distribution and exhibition have provided more independent filmmakers with the opportunity to control key elements of the business side of film.

For black women this has been especially significant as generations-old traditions of networking through churches, schools and women’s social clubs have been transferred into the cyber realm of social media. Young, professional African American women have embraced digital technologies for communicating, networking and ultimately marketing their own products. Be it a new independent publishing company or their latest art house film, black women are able to speak directly to each other as potential audiences. Digital networking has opened the door to newfound entrepreneurship in independent film and media amongst young black women. A prime example is  African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM), an independent black film distribution company founded by award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay.

Started in 2011, AFFRM has released seven films and is now distributing films internationally. But, it is important to recognise that black independent film in terms of distribution did not start with social media. Instead, one can look at the example of Haile Gerima and his strategies for marketing and distributing his 1993 slavery film Sankofa as a model for what is happening with contemporary social media in terms of independent film.

Likewise, the Sankofa model finds its roots in the marketing and distribution techniques used by 1920’s and 1930’s African American film pioneer Oscar Micheaux. Yet, what sets this current trend apart is the participation by black women in grassroots organising via social media in supporting films by and about black women.

What also distinguishes this new group of black independent filmmakers, both women and men – whose works Nelson George calls the “new black wave” – from the New Black Realism of the 1990’s and the 1970’s Blaxploitation era is a collectivism amongst new black wave filmmakers. Rather than focusing on the celebrity of a few black directors who are making it in the Hollywood system, this new black wave era is centred on a movement that fosters as many black filmmakers telling diverse, high quality stories as possible.

In 2013, the major studios released more films by and about black people than had been seen in decades. In part, this increase can be attributed to greater opportunities for black independent filmmakers to bypass the Hollywood system altogether and still have their films seen by targeted audiences. Also, the ability of studio-backed black filmmakers to work with local community and film organisations to incorporate grassroots marketing via social media in order to speak directly to their audiences has supported the commercial viability of black films overall.

What does this discussion of new media, digital production, marketing and distribution have to do with the question of black women as the “ in thing” as opposed to the one hundred plus years prior to now?

Personally, I am still uncertain how “in” black women really are. The numbers overall for women directors and for women in executive positions in the film industry remain a serious concern. Although the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has its first African American woman president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and as many celebrated another Academy Awards year in which a black woman performer, this year Lupita Nyong’o, walked away with an Oscar, I am not sure if we are really at a turning point for black women in the film industry as a whole.

Nyong'o, best supporting actress winner for her role in "12 Years a Slave", racts on stage at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood

What I am confident about is a new relationship between black women and the media, specifically film. After more than a century of the black female form being battered by stereotypical constructions of ‘mammies’, ‘sapphires’, and ‘tragic mulattoes’, this current generation of black women spectators empowered by decades of black feminist thought, critically engage with media and readily recognise stereotypical images. Beyond simply spotting stereotypical portrayals, black women now have the platforms to critically examine how such images inform black female identities and to publicly call out producers and media organisations that present these problematic depictions of black women.

While film as an industry appears to remain a boy’s club that rarely if ever has black women in mind, film is a socio-cultural entity that has an enormous impact on how black women are viewed and on how we see ourselves. Whether the film industry has chosen black women as the new “in thing” or not is no matter. What is imperative is that black women tell our stories with the diversity and richness that speaks to the complexities of our experiences.

Montré Aza Missouri

Montré Aza Missouri has produced narrative and documentary films in the UK, the US, Ghana and Nigeria. She is an Assistant Professor in Film at Howard University where she teaches Directing, Scriptwriting, Film History and African Cinema. She is also the founding director of Parallel Film Collective a nonprofit organisation dedicated to producing, distributing and promoting “local equals global” film that transcends limiting racial, cultural and gender identities found in mainstream media. A former fellow at the Center for Media, Religion and Culture, Montré is completing her book Black Magic Woman and Narrative Film: Race, Sex and Afro-religiosity for Palgrave Macmillan. She is on twitter @MontreMissouri

This article was originally published by Media Diversified. Reproduced with permission