All Articles Tagged "african american film"
Ava DuVernay is one of the few Black filmmakers making waves in the industry. In January, she became the first black woman to win the best director award at the Sundance Film Festival for her film “Middle of Nowhere.” The filmmaker sat down with 24wired.tv to discuss why she supports Tyler Perry, the need for more black film directors and the honor of winning Sundance. She’s definitely a Black woman we respect and admire.
More on Madame Noire!
- Where Are They Now? The Cast of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
- Is 3 Months Too Long to Wait for Sex? The 90 Day Rule from a Man’s Point of View
- It Takes Two to Tango: Why Do We Always Focus Blame On The Other Woman?
- What’s Better for Your Hair? Flat Iron vs. Hot Comb
- Indie Pop Group Declares They’ve ‘Got A Thing For Black Girls’ in New Music Video
- Brooklyn Man Locked Up Nearly a Year for Rape Even Though Victim Recanted Story
- Think Like A Man’s Gabrielle Union, Meagan Good and Regina Hall Discuss “The Man List”
- For A Limited Time Only: 7 Signs You Might Be A Rebound
We caught up with the beautiful and dynamic actresses Tatyana Ali, Anika Noni Rose, Nia Long, and Yvette Brown at the Eye on Black event in Hollywood and asked them about their thoughts on diversity in cinema and the state of African-American representation in Hollywood.
by Steven Barboza
Great black stories almost never get shown at America’s megaplexes. The reason? They are an endangered species.
In a perfect world, major studios would green-light a dozen films per year with mostly black casts, and audiences of all persuasions would pay to see them. But Hollywood moguls seem stuck on the color of actors’ skin. Either major studios don’t think white audiences would pay to see universal human dramas played out by black actors, or studios are bewildered by black films. Many fail at the box office for a host of reasons, including lack of audience development and badly hatched advertising and publicity campaigns.
“Ultimately, to reach an African American audience, there needs to be a cross-section of tactics,” said Ava DuVernay, filmmaker and publicist. DuVernay, who helped to market such Hollywood releases as “Dreamgirls” and “Invictus,” has formed an alliance that aims to bring more black films to commercial theaters. The African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (or AFFRM) uses social networking and grass-roots tactics to reach its marketing goals.
The alliance hopes to overcome a host of mistakes being made by otherwise savvy producers and film makers. Many black films fall victim to their creators’ good intentions but inept marketing practices. “I think that a lot of people overshoot in terms of the number of screens that they put a film on,” said DuVernay, “and I think that a lot of people undershoot in terms of the type of marketing that they apply toward certain types of films. But in cases where there’s been a happy marriage of distribution and marketing, you’ve seen modest and successfully distributed films that give nice returns to investors.”
The film “Just Wright,” starring Queen Latifah and Common, was “on too many screens,” DuVernay said. “And it was a campaign that didn’t integrate any kind of grassroots effort or real local outreach. They had a very national campaign, and they were relying on their stars. If they would have had some boots on the ground, it might have made some difference.” The film only grossed $21.5 million.
Other black films succeed if producers employ the right marketing mix. “You look at something very successful like ‘Jumping the Broom’ — they had a full-fledged publicity campaign, a very aggressive advertising campaign and local support on the ground — and you get a hit,” DuVernay said. “Same thing with ‘The Help.’ With the right marketing, the right push, the right kind of perfect storm of elements, you can actually have a successful release.”
She herself has left nothing to chance. She has written and directed a film titled “I Will Follow,” starring Salli Richardson-Whitfield, who plays a woman sorting through memories of a dead aunt. The film was the first to be marketed by the AFFRM. “We couldn’t afford big advertising so we upped our ground game,” DuVernay said. “We did more grassroots organizing. We did heavy, heavy publicity. We were in a market for six months, when you’d [customarily] be in a market for 3 or 4 months before opening.”
Madame Noire caught up with entertainment legends Martin Lawrence and Billy Dee Williams at the Eye On Black event in Los Angeles, honoring Black film directors like Haile Gerima and Debbie Allen. Comedian and actor Brandon T. Jackson also spoke to Madame Noire about hosting the star studded event.
More on Madame Noire!
- Is It Okay to NOT Shampoo Your Hair? And 6 Foods That Make Great Conditioners
- Run That Back!:10 Albums That Shaped Me
- Let it Go, Let it Flow: 7 People You Should Pick Your Battles With
- Love & Life Lessons I Learned From “Love & Basketball”
- 6 Ratchet Behaviors Ig’nant People Should Give Up for Lent
- Sweet or Needy: Which Are You?
- Missing Teen Featured on ‘The View’ Found Hours After Broadcast
- Show Off Your Shape! Style Tips To Flatter Your Body
Octavia E. Butler is considered the first black woman to gain national prominence as a science fiction writer, so why haven’t any of her books ever been turned into a movie?
I mean, its not like her work is too hard to translate visually: Butler’s last novel Fledging, the first in a series which was released after her untimely death in 2008, is actually told from the point of view of a 53-year-old vampire who happens to look like a 10-year-old black girl. Can anyone say Twilight or Let the Right One In? Kindred, her first novel, is a time travel story revolving around an African-American woman in 1976 Los Angeles who is pulled back in time to the 1800s and has to reconcile the two eras. Hello? That’s just like Back to the Future. And let us not forget The Parable of the Sower/Talent, in which Butler shares a coming of age tale about a black woman, weaving and surviving her way through post-apocalyptic California. Well that’s just like The Road, The Book of Eli and just about ever post-apocalyptic films, which has come out in the last twenty years or so.
In a few interviews, Butler had once teased that she had been in “talks” with studio execs about some of her work, including the Patternist series, and that some of her books had been optioned for film, but “unfortunately,” people have not been able to find the money to make the movie.” But why? It’s obvious that Hollywood loves a book adaptation. And other classic and equally esoteric science fiction writers such as Robert Heinlein, Philip K. package, Frank Herbert and Stephen King have seen their work on the big screen. Yet finding the funding to support a film adaptation of a Butler book is hard to come by.
These thoughts were at the forefront of my mind as I read about the recent uproar over the reviews of The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry, a collection compiled and introduced by Rita Dove, an African American former US Poet Laureate and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. In particular, Helen Vendler, author of the Harvard Book of Contemporary American Poetry and so-called renowned poetry czar, was particularly harsh, if not borderline bigoted, in her New York Review of Books critique of the anthology in which she basically attacked Dove for including “a dubious and incoherent selection” of poets in the anthology. This “dubious” selection includes black poets likes of Amiri Barack and Gwendolyn Brooks for whom Vendler suggested showed Dove preference for “multicultural inclusiveness,” at the expense of more classic favorites such as Eliot, Frost and Stevens.
(Eurweb) — The demand for religious films is on the rise, especially in the advent of Tyler Perry plays and big screens as well as movies produced by T. D. Jakes. Megachurch preacher Creflo Dollar is catching the wave and has opened up a film division within his Christian empire. According to reports, the new company, CAD Productions will produce at least three faith-based films a year, with one in the making right now.
(Reuters) — When the country’s first broadcast network focused on African-Americans launches at noon Monday, it will do it not with new, original shows, but with “The Wiz,” Sidney Lumet’s 33-year-old “Wizard of Oz” update featuring Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Nipsey Russell. The choice offers a hint at the largely safe, comforting approach of the new network, which counts Martin Luther King III among its founders. Bounce hopes to establish its identity with an early slate of films that includes old and new classics, inspirational stories, and showcases for African-American icons. It will also air specials, sports, documentaries and faith-based programs.
(TheLoop21) — Nelson George knows Brooklyn. “I’ve been there my whole life,” the author and filmmaker tells Loop 21 at the Urbanworld Film Festival premiere of his documentary “Brooklyn Boheme”. “It’s where I’m from.” The documentary is indeed Gerorge’s love song to New York’s home to some of the most influential artists, musicians and directors in hip-hop culture. The film traces the borough’s history from the drug-infested 70s, to white flight; from an artistic renaissance with Spike Lee and Chris Rock at the forefront, to gentrification. In “Brooklyn Boheme,” which George co-directed with Diana Paragas, George, serves as historian carving out the black arts movement that was defined by Lee’s 40 Acres and a Mule Production Company as well as known establishments includingBrooklyn Moon Cafe that created a poetry scene that fostered neo-soul acts such as Erykah Badu and Mos Def.
(Entertainment Weekly) — The Association of Black Women Historians released astatement today, urging fans of both the best-selling novel and the new movie The Help to reconsider the popular tale of African American maids in 1960s Jackson, Miss., who risk sharing their experiences with a young white journalist. “Despite efforts to market the book and the film as a progressive story of triumph over racial injustice, The Help distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of black domestic workers,” the statement read.The group of scholars took issue with novelist Kathryn Stockett’s use of “black” dialect, her nearly uniform portrayal of black men as cruel or absent, and the lack of attention paid to the sexual harassment that many black women endured in their white employers’ homes. “The Association of Black Women Historians finds it unacceptable for either this book or this film to strip black women’s lives of historical accuracy for the sake of entertainment.”
It’s been 20 years since Boyz N The Hood hit the big screen and completely changed our collective expectations of Black film and its place in Hollywood. The writer, producer and director of the film, John Singleton, was only 22 when he made the film and at 24, he became the youngest and first African-American to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Director.
When Singleton emerged, only one other Black filmmaker was a household name (Spike Lee). Today, there are only a few more that can command the power to get a film greenlit including Antoine Fuqua and Tyler Perry.
Although Boyz N The Hood was his most critical film, Singleton has continued to make strides and has had a pretty illustrious career. Here, in honor of the anniversary of his debut film, we highlight a few of his other notable moments.