All Articles Tagged "black film"

Why Hasn’t Octavia Butler’s Work Been Adapted?

December 28th, 2011 - By Charing Ball
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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 InKindred, 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.

Tyler Perry Releases Trailer for New Movie “Good Deeds”

December 15th, 2011 - By Veronica Wells
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Where does the man find the time? Whether you love or love to loathe Tyler Perry, you’ve got to admit the man hustles like no other. In the midst of television shows (plural) on TBS  and a Christmas play on DVD, the writer, actor and director has managed to produce a film: “Good Deeds.” The plot centers around an insipid Ivy Leaguer who decides to help someone out. His decision ultimately changes him.

Check out the trailer below:

What do you think about this? Do you plan on seeing the film once it’s released?

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What’s The Hold Up With Black Indie Films?

December 14th, 2011 - By Makula Dunbar
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"Kerry Washington and Anthony Mackie stars of Night Catches Us"

In 2008, filmmaker Dennis Dortch was living the life that many independent film directors and writers aspired to. After being rejected by Sundance the previous year, his film “A Good Day to be Black and Hot” was gaining well-deserved praise and attention.

“It was probably the greatest experience in my filmmaking career. It’s the time that every filmmaker wants.  To be recognized in the street, have your film be talked about,” said Dortch. “People come pat you on the back. That happened for like two weeks. They take care of you very well and make you the star when usually the stars are the people in the film.”

Nicknamed “Blackdance,” it’s apparent that since 2008, there has been an increase in the number of African-American filmmakers showcasing their work at the most esteemed film festival in the country. In 2010, there were just over a dozen, still a significantly low number compared to the 113 films that were accepted. One of the most prevalent black films that did make it to theaters was Tanya Hamilton’s “Night Catches Us,” a romantic drama based on the 1970s Black Power movement.

Though beyond the Sundance Film Festival, there lies a misty void in African- American culture that many in the film industry are working hard to solidify. Organizations like the Urbanworld Film Festival, the American Black Film Festival and distributor Codeblack Entertainment (Qasim Basir’s Mooz-lum and Laugh at my Pain) significantly contribute to the cause every year. However, it’s using the foundation that these organizations have built, breaking out of a subculture and making an impact on the general indie film market that will garner lasting effects.

While countless theatrical projects find themselves birthed at film festivals and carried by unwavering support to neighborhood theaters, black independent films are still lagging behind.  From their presence in the general independent film market to their journey onto the big screen, an inquiry constantly hovers: what’s the hold up with black indie films?

Lord Help Us: Creflo Dollar Courts Movie Dreams

October 5th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(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.

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50 Cent Loses Battle For Upcoming Movie Title

September 16th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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By Charlotte Young

Nothing is new under the sun but if you’re not careful you may pick that one old thing that can’t be duplicated or in 50 Cent’s case, bought. The Guardian reports that the multi-million selling rapper/actor/entrepreneur recently lost a legal battle over the now former title of his upcoming film, “Things Fall Apart.”

The movie, which stars 50 cent as an American football player diagnosed with cancer, shared the same name as the classic 1958 novel written by iconic Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. The novel tells the tale of an Igbo leader and wrestling champion named Okonkwo, as life in his village takes a challenging turn with the arrival of British Christian missionaries and colonialism. The highly acclaimed novel is read in schools across the world.

Once Achebe heard about 50’s upcoming movie, he and his legal team immediately began to contest the movie’s name, claiming that Achebe exclusively owned the rights to the title. While 50 may have more muscle and street credit than Achebe, he couldn’t win this fight.

The internationally recognized author was not giving up his rights to the title for anything, not even the $1 million 50 Cent offered him in exchange for the title rights.

“The novel with the said title was initially produced in 1958 (that is 17 years before rapper 50 Cent was born),” Achebe’s legal reps said, according to Nigerian news website They went on to state the novel was “listed as the most-read book in modern African literature, and won’t be sold for even $1 billion.”

Apparently, one man’s borrowed title can never be borrowed again. Achebe did not come up with the title “Things Fall Apart.” He took the phrase from Anglo-Irish WB Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming,” written in 1919, 39 years before Achebe’s novel. The poem expresses Yeats’ feelings on the aftermath of the first World War. (“Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The falcon cannot hear the falconer/Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”)

None of this seems to matter to Achebe or to the court. 50 Cent’s movie, set to debut in 2012, will now be called “All Things Fall Apart.” Let’s hope no one has a problem with the new name.

Black Female Historians Find ‘The Help’ Wanting

August 12th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(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.”

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Screening in the Sun: Black Film Festival in Miami

July 7th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(AP) — One of the most prestigious festivals honoring black cinema returned to Miami Beach on Wednesday to promote cultural diversity and recognize the contributions of black directors, writers and actors to the film industry.  Now in its 15th year, the American Black Film Festival promotes cultural diversity within the film industry by strengthening the black filmmaking community through four days of film screenings, networking, workshops for both actors and directors and panel discussions.  Jeff Friday, the festival’s co-founder, said he wanted to change America’s tone of African-American characters on television and films.  ”I had always been disturbed by images of people with color in films. There was always a level of struggle,” he said of black people on the television shows he grew up watching, such as “Good Times” or “The Jeffersons.”

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Slavery: Hollywood's New Hotness

June 17th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(AOL Black Voices) —  Slave stories might become the new black in Hollywood.  Today, the Shadow And Act film blog revealed that Paris-based Other Angle Pictures picked up a French slavery comedy for international distribution. ’Case Départ’ is scheduled for a July 6 release in France and with the international distribution deal, there’s the possibility that a remake could happen in Hollywood. According to an article in the film industry trade magazine, ‘Variety,’ executives atOther Angle say ‘Case Départ’ has “remake potential”.  The comedy is about two half-brothers, Joel and Regis (played by actors pictured above, Thomas Ngijol and Fabrice Eboué, respectively), who travel to the Caribbean to collect an inheritance from their dying father. They are given a document that chronicles their slave ancestry and in an effort to find out its worth, they accidentally destroy the document.

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Jeff Friday: American Black Film Festival Co-Founder Looks Back on Legacy

June 11th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Black Enterprise) — After 15 years of leading what he calls a “quiet revolution,” Jeff Friday, co-founder with Warrington Hudlin and Byron Lewis of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF, being held this year from July 6-9 in Miami), has decided to pass the torch. The former ad-exec -turned-film-advocate says he’s moving into new territory after what is sure to be this year’s star-studded event, deciding to focus his attention on new opportunities, such as opening theaters across the country. It’s a move he says will help ensure black films have a place to call home–and the potential to have their work seen.

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Ex-Con Makes a Scene (In a Good Way)

June 9th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Des Moines Register) — The author, the screenwriter and the producer grab a table in the back of the Ingersoll Avenue coffee shop and go to work.  Papers, notecards and legal pads are strewn before them as they begin organizing the screenplay for the author’s first book.  ”I keep coming back to the tough-minded authenticity here and the unapologetic tone,” says the screenwriter, James Serpento. “This is not the Hallmark story of a bad man gone good.”  Not in the least. Amid all the shooting, stabbing, drinking, hustling, fleeing and turf protecting, there isn’t much to like about the protagonist in Alf Freddie Clark’s 2005 autobiography, “Satan’s Mask: A True Story of Deception, Murder, and Betrayal.”

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