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Attend our Race & Community Screening of Do The Right Thing + #Blacklivesmatter Panel Discussion

 

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Kush ‘Film Boutique’ – The UK’s No 1 Exhibition Platform for Urban Films
Presents a Special ‘Race & Community’ Film Screening Event
DO THE RIGHT THING - UK Poster

Kush Films presents a special cinematic event focussing on race and community on Thursday 11th August.  Its 26 years since the release of Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed comedy/drama ‘Do The Right Thing’, we revisit this important film and its contentious racial storyline. Following the screening will be a special #BlackLivesMatter panel debate with invited guest speakers focusing on the relevance of Do The Right Thing today and how the BLM social movement can unite supporters in the US and UK and progressively move positively forward; bringing about tangible lasting change which better alters community relations with law enforcement and unites black communities both home and abroad economically.

Join us for networking and music in the bar prior to film.
Date: Thursday 11th Aug
Time: 7.30pm (music/networking in bar) for 8.30pm film start

Guest Panel: George Ruddock (Editor – The Voice Newspaper), Lee Jasper (Social Justice Activist), Temi Mwale (Founder 4Front Project), Kayza Rose (Blackoutlnd) & others attending representing Blacklivesmatter.

Hosted by: Livingston Gilchrist

Tickets: Early Bird Sale: just £6 up to 5th Aug & then thereafter £15 (students, OAP’s reduced prices)
Venue: Regent Street Cinema, 309 Regent street, London, W1B 2UW

Bookings: www.regentstreetcinema.com / Tel: 0207 911 5050

Do The Right Thing (15)
Spike Lee’s incendiary look at race relations in America, circa 1989, is so colourful and exuberant for its first three-quarters that you can almost forget the terrible confrontation that the movie inexorably builds toward. Do the Right Thing is a joyful, tumultuous masterpiece–maybe the best film ever made about race in America, revealing racial prejudices and stereotypes in all their guises and demonstrating how a deadly riot can erupt out of a series of small misunderstandings. Set on one block in Bedford-Stuyvesant on the hottest day of the summer, the movie shows the whole spectrum of life in this neighbourhood and then leaves it up to us to decide if, in the end, anybody actually does the “right thing.”

Starring: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, John Turturro, Spike Lee, Giancarlo Esposito, Richard Edson, Ruby Dee, Bill Nunn, Paul Benjamin, Rosie Perez, Robin Harris, Frankie Faison, Frank Vincent, Steve White, Leonard L. Thomas, Samuel L. Jackson, Joie Lee, John Savage, Miguel Sandoval, Rick Aiello, Roger Guenveur Smith & Martin Lawrence.




More info: Kush Promotions & PR / Tel: 0203 070 3200 / email: info@kushfilms.com

Supported by:
Colourfulradio.com, Blaksox.com, BlackOutLDN.co.uk, voice-online.co.uk, thebritishblacklist.co.uk

Spike Lee receives Honorary Award at the 2015 Governors Awards

Courtesy of: http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact
Written by Tambay A Obenson
15th Nov 2015

 

 

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Last night, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Honorary Oscars to Spike Lee and Gena Rowlands, as well as the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to Debbie Reynolds.

The Honorary Award, an Oscar statuette, is given “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.”

“The Board is proud to recognize our honorees’ remarkable contributions at this year’s Governors Awards,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “We’ll be celebrating their achievements with the knowledge that the work they have accomplished – with passion, dedication and a desire to make a positive difference – will also enrich future generations.”

All three awards were presented at the Academy’s 7th Annual Governors Awards last night, Saturday, November 14 – an event that apparently wasn’t nationally televised.

Thankfully the Academy has already made footage of the night’s highlights available online via YouTube, and I’ve embedded the tribute to Spike (which included Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, and Denzel Washington, and was 12 minutes long) as well as Spike’s lengthy (18 minutes long), poignant, and at times hilarious acceptance speech. He took his time and it was great, getting all his industry hooks and jabs in. This was his long-coming Oscar moment (albeit an honorary Oscar) and he was going to make the absolute most of it, and I don’t blame him!

Spike joins a growing list of other talents who have never been recognized by Oscar for individual performances, and were later given Honorary Awards – James Earl Jones being one of them (nominated for Best Actor in 1970 for “The Great White Hope” but didn’t win; and in 2012, a long 42 years later, was celebrated with an Honorary Award).

So first watch the rollicking tribute with Snipes, Jackson and Washington; and then, underneath it, watch Spike’s acceptance speech. Good stuff all-around!

Denzil Washingtion, Samuel Jackson and Wesley Snipes honour Spike Lee (hilarious!)

Spike Lee acceptance speech:

Teyonah Parris, Nick Cannon & Wesley Snipes star in a New Clip from Spike Lee’s ‘Chi-Raq’

Courtesy of: http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact
Written by Tambay A Obenson
20th Nov 2015

 

 

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Amazon Studios has set the release date for Spike Lee’s much-discussed next joint, “Chi-Raq,” for December 4, 2015 in a theatrical release deal that involves both Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate (noteworthy as both have previously teamed up on prestige film fare).

The film’s cast includes rising star Teyonah Parris and multihyphenate and Nick Cannon, as well as lauded veterans like Angela Bassett, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cusack, Harry Lennix, Steve Harris, Wesley Snipes, and D.B. Sweeney. Singer/actress Jennifer Hudson also features.

“Chi-Raq” is a modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play “Lysistrata” by Aristophanes. After the murder of a child by a stray bullet, a group of women led by Lysistrata (played by Parris) organize against the on-going violence in Chicago’s Southside, creating a movement that challenges the nature of race, sex and violence in America and around the world.

Spike Lee directed the film from a screenplay he co-wrote with Kevin Willmott (writer and director of the woefully underseen 2004 mockumentary, “C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America”) – an effort to shed light on the very serious, but often overlooked issue of violence in inner city Chicago.

At the time of the film’s pickup by Amazon Studios, Ted Hope, Head of Motion Picture Production, said, “Spike Lee is one of the most distinct and visionary filmmakers of our time. It would be impossible to find a better filmmaker with whom to launch our studio. He has a unique voice, a distinct eye, and he tackles important subjects with humor and heart, pointing to solutions and not exploiting the problems. ‘Chi-Raq’ may be his greatest, and definitely his boldest film yet–everything about it is distinctive.”

Spike Lee added: “I’m honored to be part of the film that will launch Amazon Studios and to tell a story that is so important. Please don’t be fooled by the title of ‘Chi-Raq.’ This new Spike Lee joint will be something very special.”

As noted, although it has yet to be released, the film has been at the center of much debate, at first over the use of the portmanteau “Chi-Raq” as its title, and currently, criticism of the still unseen film based solely on its recently-released trailer.

Spike Lee has been candid about all the controversy surrounding “Chi-Raq,” directly addressing the uproar, emphasizing that it is indeed a serious film – a work of satire that’s essentially designed to shake up the status quo: “People, this film is not a joke,” Lee has said repeatedly.

With December 4 looming, everyone will finally get to actually see “Chi-Raq” and hopefully then have informed discussions on its merits.

Ahead of its release, watch the official trailer for the film featuring Samuel L Jackson, Teyonah Parris, Nick Cannon, Michelle Mitchenor, Jennifer Hudson, Harry Lennix, DB Sweeney, Angela Bassett and Wesley Snipes.

For The Love of Oscar: Our 2015 Report

Written by Graeme Wood
24.02.15

 

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As the year’s major award ceremonies draw to a close it’s easy to see which films have been the clear winners and the losers. This year more than any other it seems the glitz and glamour of our awards ceremonies have been under attack for their lack of recognition and prize-giving to a slew of actors and films that appear to have been snubbed. While you could usually rely on BAFTA to recognize its home grown talent this year it bizarrely missed out on nominating Selma or its British star David Oyelowo but there was also a distinct lack of recognition for black and ethnic minority based talent from the UK.

As Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris ribbed in his opening monologue “Tonight we honour Hollywood’s Neil_Patrick_Harris_at_the_best and whitest. Sorry, brightest!” The host drawing attention to the controversy that has dogged this year’s nominations and awards, so concerned were the ceremony organisers that it seems they were anxious to fill the presenter’s roles with as may non-Caucasian faces as possible. Drafting in a number of more ethnically mixed presenters including; Kerry Washington, Eddie Murphy, David Oyeleow, Zoe Saldana and Viola Davis, in what appeared to be an effort to dampen the cries of a lack of diversity and snubbing.

While the Independent Spirit Awards earlier in the week had mirrored many of this year’s other award ceremonies; Birdman taking Best Picture, Richard Linklater taking Best Director, Michael Keaton taking Best Actor, Julianne Moore winning Best Actress, JK Simmons holding onto Best Supporting Actor and Patricia Arquette taking home Best Supporting Actress. They did however gift the Best First Screenplay Award to Justin Simien for Dear White People. Would Oscar go further and do the unexpected to surprise us with some new winners?

Well yes and no, Birdman led the evening taking home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography awards. The Grand Budapest Hotel took home a clutch of technical awards including Costume Design, Production Design, Best Original Score, Make Up & Hairstyling and Costume. The hotly contested Best Actor category was won by the UK’s Eddie Redmayne forEddieRedmayne The Theory of Everything, Julianne Moore continued her winning streak taking home Best Actress for Alzheimer’s drama Still Alice (due in the UK in March), JK Simmons deservedly took away Best Supporting Actor and Patricia Arquette walked away with another Best Supporting Actress win. Arquette won over the audience with her speech addressing it to ‘every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation”. “We have fought for everybody’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America”. It was the only win of the evening for Boyhood, a big award winner elsewhere, having been nominated in six categories. The other biggest losers of the evening were The Imitation Game picking up only 1 award out of 8 nominations and American Sniper picking up 1 award out of six nominations.

As was expected Big Hero 6 took home the Best Animated Feature award (The Lego Movie having cruelly been overlooked for nomination). And what of Selma, nominated in only two categories, Best Selma_CorineScott_MLKPicture and Best Song, the official excuse being the film had been released too late to be campaigned for successfully. Selma’s Glory written by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn – better known as John Legend and Common- walked away with the Oscar for Best Song, also performing the track captivatingly live at the ceremony. During the intense, powerful performance Selma star David Oyelowo was visibly moved to tears and at the finale many of the Academy were on the feet in appreciation. Collecting his award Legend said; “We live in the most incarcerated country in the world…people are marching with our song, we are with you…March on!” Some were less impressed with Lady Gaga’s Sound of Music tribute however, Shonda Rhimes tweeting; ‘That was not okay. I mean, Idina is there. She is right there. RIGHT THERE. And oh dear God, Julie had to hear that,” The Scandal showwriter referencing both Julie Andrews and Idina Menzel who were in the audience. Billboard however, thought it was the second best performance of the night.

The Academy Awards are no stranger to controversy its perceived snubs dating all the way back to a lack of recognition for Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights and Modern Times films. Each year brings a new list of should have beens like Shawshank Redemption, Audrey Hepburn, Judy Garland, Spike Lee, Jack Nicholson, Ben Afleck and many more. Many, like myself, wonder how a film can be nominated in the Best Film category and yet the director not be nominated, this has happened many times and again this year with Selma nominated as Best Film but no nomination for its director Ava DuVernay.

So what is the worth of an Oscar Nomination and even a win? Do the awards signal industry recognition of talent and art, or are they a celebration of a critical or box office success? Certainly in terms of getting a nomination the prestige can provide a secondary bout of marketing and see the film resurface into theatres with a guaranteed boost in box office sales. This year’s BAFTA wins for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash and The Theory of Everything helped boost these films at the February UK box office. Similarly last year Gravity, The Wolf of Wall Street and 12 Years A Slave also benefited from their BAFTA nominations and wins.

Does the winning of an Oscar guarantee the actor offers of the best available roles and most prestigious films on offer? Well you only have to look at Halle Berry’s career for that answer, following her Academy Award win in 2002 for Monster’s Ball, which was seen as a major break through for black actresses at the time, her roles have consisted of mostly superhero sequels and forgettable horror thrillers. Similarly, Denzel Washington, who also won in 2002 for Training Day, can hardly have noticed any change in his career – although he still turning out an impressive and consistent body of work but not always getting the headline grabbing prestigious roles.

Hattie McDaniel the very first African American actor to win an Academy Award back in 1939 for Gone With The Wind found her career continually consigned to little more than bit parts and maid HattieMcDaniel_kushfilmsroles following her Academy win. McDaniel broke into movies after many years singing in choruses and working as an extra until David O.Selznick cast her as Mammy in the epic but troubled production of Gone With The Wind. She later found herself censured by many of her own race for continuing to play the stereotypical role of a menial in films and for not criticising Hollywood’s portrayal of Negros on the big screen. McDaniel remained ‘in love’ with Hollywood and acting as she later said; though her treatment at the time is now considered something of a scandal, The Awards that year were held at The Cocoanut Grove nightclub, part of the Ambassador Hotel, which then had a strict no-blacks policy, McDaniel was not allowed to sit with the rest of the film’s crew and was placed at a separate table near the far back of the room. Gone With The Wind producer Selznick had to call in a special favour just to have McDaniel allowed into the building. Her win led to her being pigeon-holed in stereotypical roles and the NAACP disowned her for ‘perpetuating negative stereotypes’. Following her death, in 1952, her Oscar which had been left to Howard University was deemed valueless by appraisers and later went missing from the school, her final wish – to be buried in the Hollywood Cemetery was denied her because of the colour of her skin. In 1944 she had this to say about her disappointing prospects following the Oscar win, “It was as if I had done something wrong”.

More recently Mo’Nique, who picked up Best Supporting Actress in 2010 for her performance in ‘Precious’, has complained that she’s lost out on several roles due to not campaigning for her award. She says Precious director Les Daniels has told her that the perception in Hollywood is that she is monique-precious-oscars‘difficult’ ‘tacky’ and as a result has been blackballed, losing out on several key roles that were offered then later withdrawn.

At the 2010 awards ceremony Mo’Nique wore white gardenias in her hair – just as Hattie McDaniel had done in 1940 when she picked up her Oscar. During her acceptance speech the actress thanked McDaniel ‘for enduring all that she had to, so that I would not have to”. In response to the criticism McDaniel faced for taking maid roles Mo’Nique had this to say: “Well tell me what other roles were available, because what she was; was an actress – and at the time, she wasn’t getting the roles that her white counterparts were getting. She was saying,’I’m an actress. When you say ‘cut’ I’m not (a maid anymore). “So I say to those people: know that woman in full before you judge.”

Les Daniels himself offered this statement on Mo’Nique’s interview: “Mo’nique is a creative force to be reckoned with. Her demands through Precious were not always in line with the campaign. This soured her relationship with the Hollywood community”.

A recent Los Angeles Times survey of the 6,028 Academy Award voters revealed that 94% of Voters are White, while 77% of those are also Men; only 2% of the voters were Black with another 2% Latino.

This year has seen a more centralised campaign to bring more diversity to the Academy. Black activist organisation ‘Colour of Change’ have launched an online campaign and petition for the Academy to disclose it’s make up of diversity numbers and accused the Academy of marginalizing Black art because the membership is overwhelmingly white. The campaign began largely because of the perceived snubbing of Selma particularly the lack of nominations for its lead actor and director.

The debate has been fuelled also by interviews given to the Hollywood Reporter by members of the Academy, an anonymous Academy member said;” What no one wants to say out loud is that Selma is a well-crafted movie, but there’s no art to it. If the movie had been directed by a 60 year old white male, I don’t think that people would have been carrying on about it to the level that they were. And as far as the accusations about the Academy being racist? Yes, most members are white males, but they are not the cast of Deliverance-they had to get into the Academy to begin with, so they’re not cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies. When a movie about black people is good, members vote for it. But if the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it just because it has black people in it? I’ve got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying ‘I can’t breathe’ – I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year of for stirring up shit”. The Academy member went on to praise American Sniper, Birdman and The Imitation Game as being their picks of the year but felt Boyhood was less of a success; “If you told me when I saw Boyhood that it would win best picture-or even be in the running-I would have told you that you were insane. Watching it, I thought it was ambitious and a directorial triumph, but the kid was uneven and Patricia Arquette probably was sorry she agreed to let them film her age over 12 years”.

Another Academy Voter had this to say about this year’s crop of nominations; “Whiplash is offensive – it’s a film about abuse and I don’t find that entertaining at all. The Grand Budapest Hotel is beautifully made but its story just isn’t special. I didn’t think Selma was a particularly good film, apart from the main actor (David Oyelowo) and I think the outcry about the Academy being racist for not nominating it for more awards is offensive – we have a two term president who is a black woman (Cheryl Boone Isaacs) and we give out awards to black people when they deserve them, just like any other group. Birdman I didn’t get at all-I look around and its doing so well and I just don’t get it”. While another Academy member felt American Sniper had been entertaining, Birdman masterful, The Grand Budapest Hotel underrated, of The Imitation Game they said ‘it had it all; Nazis, gays, World War II. Nobody does this sort of movie better than Harvey Weinstein”. Of Selma the anonymous Academy member commented ‘I thought Selma was great but it just came out too late. And if the director (Ava DuVernay) suffered from anything, it was gender discrimination, not racial discrimination. This whole race thing was spun out of control by the press”.

In a recent interview Spike Lee also pitched in on the Selma controversy; “We don’t have to even use Selma as an example. We could use Do The Right Thing versus Driving Miss F*****ing Daisy. But Do The Right Thing wasn’t the only thing the Academy messed up. My point is; it’s not a new problem. And great art is going to prevail. The door (to black filmmakers) is not knocked down. It’s cracked open a little bit. I wish that door was wide open”.

Lee and Low Books recently published an infographic showing the make up of the Academy that proves a troubling lack of diversity, independent filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood prince-bythewood-gina-imagetold Lee & Low; “The numbers do not surprise me because very few Academy Award level films with no white leads are being greenlit. Until this changes the abysmal numbers will not change. The box office drives which films get greenlit. The hope is that with this year’s success of a variety of films with African American leads, Hollywood will be more open to taking chances.” Lee & Low published the infographic as part of their ‘Diversity Gap’ study series and have monitored a lack of diversity across the Emmy Awards, Tony Awards, the NY Times Top 10 Bestseller List, the children’s book industry and politics. “The lack of diversity across these various industries has been ‘disturbingly consistent’, the publisher wrote, “This is not an isolated incident, but a wide reaching social problem”

There is hope that with all the pressure that one day things will change (hopefully soon!)
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Read Hattie McDaniel’s 1947 Hollywood Reporter Essay:
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/hattie-mcdaniel-defies-critics-1947-774493

Read the full Hollywood Reporter interview with comedian/actress Mo’Nique:
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/monique-i-was-blackballed-winning-774616?source=gravity

Read the Hollywood Reporter’s interviews with Academy Members here;
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/brutally-honest-oscar-ballot-2015-773902

View and support the Colour of Change petition here:
http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/oscars_diversify/?t=1&akid=4126.747541.gIn_nT

‘Dear White People’ or ‘Dear Bougie Black People’?

Written by: Farah Stockman
04.11.14

This is an interesting article written for the Boston Globe by Farah Stockman who happens to be a mixed-race female reporter and this is her personal American take on the film Dear White People which is causing wide-spread debate currently in the United States.

Watch the trailer below if you are not yet familiar with the film.


T
his weekend
, I saw the new satirical film “Dear White People.” I was curious what it would tell me about how young people view race today.

Each generation plays out the drama of race in the movies. Baby boomers flocked to“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” which raised the question: Could a well-educated black man ever be good enough for a white family’s daughter? The jury was still out in 1967, the year my mom, who is black, saw that movie several times. Two years later, she married my dad, who is white.

Then came my generation. Born in the ’70s, we grew up glued to depictions of black slavery and impoverishment, with the television miniseries “Roots” and the sitcom “Good Times.” We came of dearwhitepeople3smllage with Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever,” released in 1991, which asked the question: Will the gulf between black and white ever be bridged? Lee’s answer seemed to be: Don’t hold your breath. In 1992, I left my predominantly white high school for a predominantly white Ivy League college.

Now we have the millennial generation, the most ethnically diverse, socially liberal cohort America has ever seen; kids who never wondered whether America could elect a black president. About 90 percent report being “fine” with a family member marrying outside the race. Yet, for much of this generation, the civil rights movement is ancient history, and systemic black poverty and incarceration take place on a separate planet. Millennials feel deeply ambivalent about acknowledging race, even for the purpose of righting wrongs: According to one poll, 70 percent feel it’s “never fair to give preferential treatment to one race over another, regardless of historical inequalities.” Nearly half of white young people today believe that discrimination against whites has become “as big a problem as discrimination against racial minority groups.” By comparison, only 27 percent of people of color share that belief.

Therein lies the disconnect. Clashes over race have not disappeared. They’ve simply gotten more personal. Although “Dear White People” leaves much to be desired in terms of plot and character development, it speaks to the zeitgeist of this era: Nearly every romance in the movie is interracial. But that doesn’t produce racial harmony. Instead, the main character, a sexy Angela Davis type,dear-white-people_med fights to protect her black dorm from integration. She rings a gong when white students walk into the cafeteria, including her own white lover. Then a rich white kid throws a party called “Release Your Inner Negro.” All hell proceeds to break loose.

On the surface, “Dear White People” appears to warn whites about liberties they shouldn’t take, even in age of alleged post-raciality: (Dressing in blackface, fondling a stranger’s afro, and dismissing a nerdy black guy as “only technically black” are all no-nos, in case you’re wondering.)

But, despite its name, the movie doesn’t really speak to white people. Instead, it explores the angst felt by blacks who occupy a mostly-white world: What does it mean to be black if you’re affluent, popular, and the son of the college dean? How black can you be if you love “Star Trek?’’ Or Mumford and Sons? Or your own white father? And how big a role should race play anyway in determining our identity in an era that preaches that race shouldn’t matter?

The truth is, the deepest dilemmas in this movie are caused not by white rejection, but acceptance. It’s the same theme as the new ABC comedy “Black-ish,” which features the trials of raising black kids in a white suburb. One episode features a black dad’s horror when he realizes his son has no black friends. In another, his son asks for a bar mitzvah.

To be clear, neither “Dear White People” nor “Black-ish” addresses the enormous challenges of the black underclass in America today. Instead, they focus on something new: The existential threat of assimilation. A generation after upwardly mobile blacks struggled for acceptance in white neighbourhoods and schools, we’re faced with another problem: preserving a sense of identity inside the mainstream.
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W. E. B. Du Bois famously defined a black man as anybody “who must ride ‘Jim Crow’ in Georgia,’ ” writes Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs in her new book, “A Chosen Exile.” That “raises the question, What would a black man be without Jim Crow in Georgia?”

If overcoming slavery and discrimination lies at the heart of the black American experience, who will we be once that battle is won?

For the first time in history, we have a generation that stands a chance of finding out.

 

 

Original article www.bostonglobe.com © 2014
http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/11/04/dear-white-people-dear-bougie-black-people/bVT9RYF92i9gpt9ovlRm6K/story.html

Dear White People: the new film stirring up racial concerns?

 

 

Written by Graeme Wood
16.10.14

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Winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent, Justin Simien’s Dear White People opens in America this week and is already causing controversy. The satire which follows a group of African American students as they navigate campus life and amid the racial politics of a predominately white college is a sharp and funny feature debut that put Simien among Variety’s annual ’10 Directors To Watch’

The New York Times’ AO Scott wrote; “seeming to draw equal measures of inspiration from Whit Stillman and Spike Lee, but with his own tart, elegant sensibility very much in control, Mr.Simien evokes familiar campus stereotypes only to smash them and rearrange the pieces”.

The unexpected election of activist Samantha White (Veronica Mars’ Tessa Thompson) as head of a traditionally black residence hall sets up a college campus culture war that challenges conventional notions of what it means to be black. While Sam leverages her notoriety as host of the provocative and polarising radio show ‘Dear White People’ to try to prevent the college from diversifying Armstrong Parker House, outgoing head of house Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P Bell), son of the university’s dean (24’s Dennis Haysbert), defies his father’s lofty expectations by applying to join the staff of Pastiche, the college’s influential humour magazine. Lionel Higgins (Everybody Hates Chris’ Tyler James Williams), an Afro-sporting sci-fi geek, is recruited by the otherwise all-white student  dearwhitepeople3smllnewspaper to go undercover and write about black culture – a subject he knows little of- while the aggressively assimilated Coco Connors (Mad Men’s Teyonah Parris) tries to use the controversy on campus to carve out a career in reality TV. But no one at Winchester University is prepared for Pastiche’s outrageous, ill-conceived Halloween party, with its ‘unleash your inner Negro’ theme throwing oil on an already smouldering fire of resentment and misunderstanding. When the party descends into mayhem, everyone is forced to choose a side.

Mad Men’s Teyonah Parris told the New York Post ‘the title is provocative but (the criticism has been) from people who haven’t seen the movie. So I don’t give them much energy” During the controversial party sequence, Parris dons a blond wig and makeup four shades too light but found the scene difficult; “Seeing myself in that wig and in that makeup, it was emotional for me, because I know that there are women who, in order to feel beautiful, think that they have to do this,” she says The South Carolina-raised Parris has faced racism in her life, though she’s coy about recent examples. She will,dear-white-people_med however, take a stance against one perpetual problem she’s encountered – even at the Sundance Film Festival, where the movie was an undeniable hit.

“I’ve never done this to anyone, so it really boggles my mind when it’s done to me, but they come up to pet or rub your hair,” she says. “It’s so offensive and belittling and demeaning because it feels like you’re petting me. I’m not a zoo animal.”

This faux pas and just about every other predictable racial offense are lampooned in Dear White People. But to Parris, the film isn’t just about that. “I think the movie, more than being about race is about identity,” she explains. “These students are trying to figure out..how to deal with identity. Do you assimilate? Do you just go against everything?”

Dear White People is written, directed and produced by Justin Simien and was released in the US on October 17th. Although the critically acclaimed film had two screenings at the London Film Festival there are no plans for a general release at this time in the UK. A collective of UK film fans have attempted to organise an independent screening following a campaign by blogger Cherelle Morris who expressed disappointment that the film would only have two screenings and that tickets had sold out. Morris quickly set up a Facebook campaign with some 900 people expressing interest in attending a screening of the film.

Despite the criticism of the film Simien has defended his vision; “My film isn’t about ‘white racism’ at all. It is about identity. It’s about the difference between how the mass culture responds to a person because of their race and who that person understands themselves to truly be.” Simien said “I did a lot of research of blackface parties, I did a lot of research on Ivy League colleges and race issues and there was an abundance of story ideas during that process. I never had a point where I didn’t know where the plot should go. I had too many options”

The film itself originated as a product of an Indigogo crowdfunding campaign and initially the director aimed to raise $25,000 but an overwhelming response led to a cash pot of some $40,000.

Dear White People opened in the US on just 11 screens last weekend, and took a great average of $31,273, for a total of $344,000. Compared to other films that also opened in limited release this weekend, “DWP” was second only to the highly praised “Birdman” by “Babel” director Alejandro Inarritu, starring Michael Keaton, which opened on just 4 screens, with an average of $103,750, for a total of $415,000.

The film will open-up wider this coming Friday (24th Oct), across the US; we will then see how it does against other films. Since the film was made on a very low budget according to director Justin Simien and with those box office figures stacking up we have no doubt it will further do very well as it has shown to be doing already.

Released in USA from 17th October 2014

We will keep you informed about any UK news, especially as we have been approached by others to bring the film to the UK – we will see!!

More news to come!

Wesley Snipes is back!

written by Lee Pinkerton
08/08/14

Whatever happened to Wesley Snipes? He was one of the hottest Black actors back in the 1990’s, moving from urban movies like King of New York and New Jack City  to action movies like Boiling Point, Drop Zone and Passenger 57.

After taking starring roles in two Spike Lee Joints (Jungle Fever and Mo Better Blues) he enjoyed a couple of successfull collaborations with Woody Harrellson (White Men Can’t Jump and Money Train).  He even had his own superhero franchise with Blade. But in the ’00s his movie career seemed to stall, with more than his fair share of straight to DVD material, and his decline was precipitated by his conviction for tax evasion in 2008.

wesley-snipes-expendables-3The last movie we saw him in before he started his three year prison sentence in 2010 was Brooklyn’s Finest alongside Don Cheadle and Richard Gere.

But now Wesley is set to return in his first film since his release last year, and he’s going back to his action movie best with a helping hand from his old co-star Sylvester Stallone (remember Demolition Man?).

Snipes (now 52) has a guest role in Stallone’s latest action sequel The Expendables 3, alongside other action veterans Arnold Schwarzennegger and Mel Gibson.  In the movie Snipes even shares a joke with his co-stars about his prison time.

Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture break into a fortress to free Doctor Death (played by Wesley Snipes), and after the successful rescue, the team boards a plane where they ask him why he was jailed. Snipes ominiously replies “Tax evasion.”

 

Its good to see Wesley back. Lets just hope that this time he’s employed a decent accountant!

The Expendables 3 is released in cinemas on August 15th.  Watch the trailer here

Lee Pinkerton

Interview with Anthony Mackie

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written by Lee Pinkerton
25/04/14

African American actor Anthony Mackie has been slowly building up his acting CV over the last decade.  He’s starred in not one but two Spike Lee joints (Sucker Free City and She Hate Me) but his big break into the mainstream came when he starred in the Oscar winning 2009 movie The Hurt Locker.

Also in 2009, Mackie portrayed rapper Tupac Shakur in the film Notorious, and later went onto appear alongside Matt Damon in the 2011 film The Adjustment Bureau where he plays Harry Mitchell, a sympathetic member of a shadowy supernatural group that controls human destiny.

This year he stars in his biggest budget movie so far Captain America: The Winter Soldier playing Sam Wilson aka ‘Falcon’.

If you want to get to know Mackie a little better you could do worse then check out this interview he did for the show Hooked Up.

Hooked Up with Tom Colicchio is a fishing/conversation show where chef and fishing enthusiast Colicchio takes a celebrity out on the water fishing. In the interview, Mackie chats about his movie career and why Morgan Freeman gave him the best movie career advice after working on Million Dollar Baby and  why he had such a great experience filming The Hurt Locker in Jordan with Kathryn Bigelow.

 

Time to side-step the gate-keepers

Posted: November 8, 2013 on http://theblakwatch.wordpress.com

Back in the 1990’s when I was working for The Voice newspaper, also working there an older Jamaican man named Milton. I’m not sure what his official job title was but, depending on the time of day, he would fill the role of receptionist, handyman or head of security. But in my view his real role was as the heart and soul of the paper. With his no-nonsense plain-speaking Jamaican manner he would keep us British-born university-graduate journos in touch with the original spirit of The Voice.

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The Voice was the first newspaper aimed at the Black British market.

By day Milton could be  as polite and professional as the best of them, but at night, when most of the staff had gone home, and the rum had come out, his inner ‘Yard Man’ would reveal itself. He would educate and entertain me with his stories of growing up in Jamaica and his youth in England.  One of his stories involved him and his pals going for a night out in London.  He and his crew would roll up to a nightclub in their sharp suits and winkle-picker shoes, only to be turned away by the bouncers, while the scruffily dressed white men would just saunter in. It was these bitter experiences that led to the formation of the Blues parties and Black-owned nightclubs that were such a feature of the Black-British cultural life in the 70s and 80s. With the advent of hip-hop, house music, and dance-culture that arrived in the late 80s, the race-bar of London nightclubs fell away, as did the need for the Black owned clubs and Blues parties.

when white-owned night-clubs turned us away, we created out own.

when white-owned night-clubs turned us away, we created our own.

Thankfully such blatantly racist door policies are no longer a regular feature of London nightlife, but more a subtle colour-bar still exist in certain professions.

I had a taste of it when trying to move from The Voice into the ‘mainstream media’.  So much so, that I abandoned my career in journalism for nearly a decade.  My recent return to the field was prompted by the advance of social media which removed the need to negotiate with such gate-keepers. In the last year or so, working with on-line groups like Media Diversity and the TV Collective, this appeal for access to the closed doors of the media are a regular topic. The media, like those nightclubs of old, are exclusive places with a strictly enforced door policy that allows admission only to those who face fits.  There is a long-running standing joke in comedy circles, that no Black comedian will be able to get their own show on the BBC until Lenny Henry dies.

No room at the BBC for Black comedians until Lenny Henry dies?

No room at the BBC for Black comedians until Lenny Henry dies?

They and the other broadcasters seem to operate a ‘one-in, one-out’ policy. The chosen Black faces in favour will vary over time – be it Trevor McDonald, or Darcus Howe, or Richard Blackwood, or Kwame Kwei Armah, or Reggie Yates, or Idris Elba, but only one at a time can gain entry. Like the nightclub bouncers of old, even if the gate-keepers of the media are not actually racist, they seem afraid to let too many of ‘us’ in at once, for fear of scaring away their regular punters.

In just the last month we have seen supermodel Naomi Campbell highlighting racism in the fashion industry; Labour MP Chukka Ummuna discussing ‘lazy racial stereotyping’ on British television; grime artist Dizzee Rascal complaining that Radio 1 don’t playlist his songs; and the general outcry from the Black British population about the stereotypical depiction of Jamaican culture in the Channel 4 documentary My Crazy New  Jamaican Life.  It’s all very well complaining, but what are we doing about it?

Perhaps we should take a leaf out of the book of those frustrated ravers of the 1960s.  They didn’t stand outside those nightclubs and picket, or start petitions demanding equity.  They simply moved on and started their own thing.  So by the time I started raving in the late 80’s, we had a pick of nightclubs in east London full of people that looked like us, and played the music we liked, all night long. And guess what else happened?  When our scene became acknowledged as being more attractive, Black DJs and ravers alike were welcomed into those previously off-limits establishments with open arms.

There was a time that Black DJs like Trevor Nelson were not welcome in West End nightclubs.

There was a time that Black DJs like Trevor Nelson were not welcome in West End nightclubs.

So perhaps we should follow the example of the pioneers who came before us.  Rather than singing the same old song, demanding equality of access and greater diversity, perhaps we should set up our own thing?  But one major obstacle stopping us is money.  Most of us don’t have rich parents who can financially support us, and we need to get paid. Not many in our community have the money to start up their own TV stations or finance big-budget movies. And none of us can afford to set up a business that runs at a loss for the first year, whilst we wait for blue chip companies to include our outlet in their yearly advertising budgets.

But in the last decade such financial barriers have been removed by one thing – the internet.  Thanks to this wonderful invention, journalists like me don’t have to wait for a Fleet Street editor to give me a job, or even a commission.  We can start our own blogs and write what we like, immediately we are inspired.  And by linking up with writers collectives like Media Diversity can have our copy read around the world.  Thanks to Facebook and Twitter we can distribute our work, interact with appreciative readers and increase our profiles.  Thanks to YouTube comedians and writers no longer have to convince execs from the BBC or ITV.  They can simply film it, upload it, promote it through social media, and watch those views and subscribers multiply.

And perhaps we’d be less fearful of doing it ourselves if we stopped thinking of ourselves as BMEs or Ethnic Minorities, and instead recognised the power of a worldwide diaspora, an international target audience who needs are currently being under-served. Plug into the power of Black twitter!

The Real McCoy is 20 years old.  Let it lie!

The Real McCoy is 20 years old. Let it lie!

How backwards do we as a people look when we start campaigns demanding that white-owned radio stations should play more Reggae and Soca? Or when we beg the BBC to bring back an old show like The Real McCoy?  Are we really saying that there has been no new Black comedy talent to emerge in the last 20 years? If you really think that, then you’re not paying attention. Would you walk into a white-owned restaurant and demand that they start serving Jerk Chicken? Wouldn’t it be smarter to open-up your own restaurant? Way back in the 1980s Val McCalla didn’t campaign and protest at the lack of Black journalists on Fleet Street – he set up The Voice, and got rich in the process. In the 90s, when Kanya King, like the rest of us, observed that Black artists were getting ignored by the Brit Awards, she didn’t start up a petition, she started the MOBO Awards.

As the film director Spike Lee put it “If you don’t own stuff, you have no power.  When Black people start thinking more like entrepreneurs instead of ‘please Mr White man, can you do so and so for me?’ we will call the shots.”

Or to quote Miguel de Cervantes “Never stand begging for that which you have the power to earn.”

'If you don't own stuff you have no power'. Spike Lee

‘If you don’t own stuff you have no power’. Spike Lee

And for those who argue that we pay taxes, and we pay licence fee and so we deserve to be represented – well we’ve been arguing that for 40 years now, and where has it got us?

So instead of begging those old media houses to acknowledge our presence, let’s side-step the gate-keepers and build our own thing, or support those that already exist. Begging is SO unattractive, and so last century. If you don’t know where to start here’s a list.

RADIO. If you want to listen to Black music that’s not obsessed with the Rhianna/Chris Brown/Jay-Z/Beyonce carousel of electronic dance music that dominates 1Xtra and Capital Extra try Radio stations Colourful and Solar.

TV. If you want news, discussion and entertainment that doesn’t only feature Black people when we’re selling drugs, try TVstations Oh! TV, VoxAfrica, and The Africa Channel.

Web Coms. Fancy seeing some middle-class Black people in normal monogamous relationships? Try the Web-coms BWNG, Venus vs Mars and Meet the McKenzies.

Brothers With No Game - available on YouTube right now!

Brothers With No Game – available on YouTube right now!

On-Line Media Outlets. For on-line news, discussion, and debate try the blogs by – The TV Collective, Media Diversity UK, Ms Mad News and The British Black List

Suggestions for other Black-owned media ventures that we should be supporting are most welcome.

So what are you waiting for?  Be the change that you want to see.

Courtesy of Lee Pinkerton © 2013
http://theblakwatch.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/time-to-side-step-the-gate-keepers/