(The Loop 21) — When you think of black directors, Spike Lee automatically comes to mind. A “Spike Lee Joint” was guaranteed to have unique story lines, powerful use of black and white cinematography and that floating affect he does when it seems like the world is rushing in on an actor. It’s classic Lee. His hometown Brooklyn-based production company 40 Acres and a Mule has produced over 35 films in the past 28 years including cult classics “She’s Gotta Have It”, “School Daze” and “Malcolm X.” At one time, Lee was a force in Hollywood and an inspiration to black directors in the U.S.
He seemed to spark a 1990s black renaissance in Hollywood where directors such as Robert Townsend, Keenan Ivory Wayans and F. Gary Gray were considered tinsel town’s titans. But now that just seems like a cultural coincidence. While some directors went mainstream, producing films that no longer celebrate the black experience, others have ventured into smaller screens or even Broadway.
When John Singleton made “Boyz n the Hood” in 1991, he helped lay the groundwork for a new black genre of film that focused on the gritty, forgotten moments in our inner cities. He even made history, becoming the first African-American to earn an Oscar nod for Best Director. But for a man who helped carve out many opportunities for black actors with movies like “Poetic Justice”, “Higher Learning” and “Baby Boy,” the new Singleton has gone mainstream. His 2005 film “Four Brothers” and the upcoming “Abduction” to be released this September aren’t focused on the African-American experience like his previous works.