All Articles Tagged "red tails"
Just this past Saturday, Red Tails came on tv as my father was flicking through the channels. Before the station even had a chance to settle, I knew what my dad was going to say. “You know, they really messed up devoting so much time to this Italian woman. A lot of these men had black girlfriends and wives and mothers and sisters back at home. They should have shown those relationships.”
Well… I’m with him when he’s right. There should have been at least one black women in Red Tails. But what can you say? It’s done now.
But just because Red Tails missed its chance to feature black women doesn’t mean that we weren’t a force to be reckoned with during World War II. And I mean a force beyond the emotional support women provided their deployed boyfriends, husbands, sons and brothers. During the war, 600,000 black women worked in war production, military and government service. At a time when Jim Crow reigned, this was no small feat.
In order to honor these women, educator and historian, Gregory S. Cooke, whose mother served as a clerk typist during the war, started working on a documentary, Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II so these women could share their stories.
Check out a clip from the film below.
Now, we know a lot of times when you’re doing important work, it’s going to cost some money, so Cooke has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the project.
This definitely seems like a cause worth donating towards. I know I’ve heard very little mentioned of black women helping in the war effort. If you need a bit more of an incentive to donate, donating $25 or more will get you a digital copy of the film. Sounds like a good deal, right? Find out more about the project, Cooke and where you can donate here.
Disney, flexing its financial muscles, has purchased Lucasfilm from its owner, George Lucas, for $4.05 billion. Lucas, of course, is responsible for the much-loved Star Wars films and Red Tails, last year’s film about black pilots in World War II. Lucas says he’s going to give up the daily operations of the company and, yeah, I’m sure he is. He was 100 percent owner of Lucasfilm, so cha-ching!
The Walt Disney Company has spent more than $11 billion in acquisitions since 2006, first of Pixar Animation Studios, then, in 2009, of Marvel Entertainment. According to The New York Times, the Lucasfilm acquisition was a surprise, announced while the New York Stock Exchange remained closed in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The sale includes other parts of Lucas’ empire, including Industrial Light & Magic, his special effects operation.
Adding to the excitement is the news that there will be a new Star Wars movie in 2015, with more films coming every two to three years after. The next movie is currently named Star Wars: Episode 7. Not so creative but the kids in the video below don’t really care (c/o Business Insider).
“Traditionalists are going to scream in horror at this news, but there is a silver lining. The new films will not be produced by George Lucas – who lost his touch a long time ago,” reads a separate Business Insider story.
This might be my only problem with the acquisition. With one mega-company owning everything, a blandness can set in across the industry. Will next summer’s popcorn movies be completely imagined by Disney employees? Will all our imaginations be captured by one wealthy corporation? Blech.
Besides that, maybe Lucas lost his touch, but there’s nothing that says Disney will re-invigorate the franchise. In fact, as evidenced by Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney has a tendency to suck the life out of some really great movie series.
Oh well, they can’t take YouTube away from us. Because I know you want to watch it again, scroll a little further down to watch a kid go ham with a “light saber.”
There was a time when, not too long ago, I used to criticize my friends for not patronizing documentaries and serious movies about this struggle or that struggle. I assumed the masses were stupid for going to spend their money on fantasy films or whichever Marvel comics-based film was being released that weekend at the movie theaters. After all, I believed they were turning their back on enrichment and education all for the sake of staying insulated in their ignorance.
That was in high school.
My, things have changed for me. When co-workers invited me to see “Bully,” the documentary about (you can guess) bullying in high schools, I quickly declined. I never went to see “Precious” or “For Colored Girls” or “Red Tails,” simply because I didn’t want to be challenged emotionally. I knew these movies would make me angry or get me upset. And honestly, I feel that I can no longer afford to compromise my emotional state…even for two hours. .
Now I get it.
I understand why folks escape reality with fantasy films and comedies. These days, I only check for romantic comedies that promises a light-hearted experience. Think Like A Man and Bridesmaids are my type of flicks.
My evolution is not as simple as me becoming less interested in understanding the struggles of others, but it also has a lot to do with my own sense of helplessness in the world. I remember watching “Born Into Brothels,” and being incensed by something so out of my control. After watching movies that had to to with the civil rights struggle, I would stew for weeks about the plight of Black America and worry myself sick about our inability to really come together as a people.
As I got older, I became more aware just how much these movies affected me. My decision to abstain from these more serious-natured films is selfish in a way but my decision to do so is about manipulating the happy times and decreasing the sense of gloom I channeled from some of these movies. Although I do watch documentaries and historical movies from time to time, they now make up only 20 percent of my entertainment consumption as opposed to 80 percent.
I like a good uplifting movie. With that admission, I’ve joined the camp I used to criticize and still wonder if I should feel guilty about creating a distance between myself and the ails of the world…
Does what you watch affect you personally?
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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.”
There was already plenty of controversy surrounding the lack of black women in the George Lucas Tuskegee Airmen film “Red Tails,” but now a school district in Dallas is catching heat, and possibly, a case for sending about 5,700 fifth grade boys on a field trip to see the movie, and excluding girls.
According to a teacher, the trip was a part of black history month, and the film was chosen because it was something that boys would be interested in, as the movie is about historically significant African American men. Of the choice to exclude girls, Independent School District spokesman Jon Dahlander, said:
“There is only so much available space at the movie theater, so the decision was made for boys to attend the movie. Girls stayed at school but principals were given the option to show them ‘Akeelah and the Bee.’”
Title IX funds were used to cover the cost of the nearly $60,000 field trip, which included $32,000 for the cost of movie tickets and an additional $25,000 for bus rentals, not to mention paying substitute teachers to instruct the girls who were still in the classroom. Title I money is used for educating low-income students, but because Title IX prohibits schools that get federal money from gender-based discrimination, outside groups are questioning whether the provision has been violated.
The American Association of University Women told the Dallas Morning News that the field trip was a case of “separate but unequal,’’ and a statement by the Dallas district’s board of trustees saying that they thought boys would enjoy the combat movie more than the girls doesn’t do much to to nullify that stance.
I actually think sending black boys to see the film as a way to instill pride as African American men would’ve been a great idea, but the fact that the district didn’t even think that deeply and made the trip more of a “boys play with guns, girls play with barbies” situation, makes it hard to justify the exclusion of female students. What year is it, 1950?
What do you think about this “Red Tails” field trip? Should the school district be held accountable for excluding girls from seeing the film?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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After all the stories, conversations, arguments and commentaries over the film Red Tails, it finally came out last Friday. Hurray! There are a few reasons why you should check out the film if you haven’t already. Not only is it a great opportunity to learn more about our history through the big screen (which we don’t get to see often) and to appreciate the efforts and heroism of the Tuskegee Airmen; but it’s also a nice chance to see a cast full of HOT eye candy. Like, smoking. It was almost distracting at a point. But not the usual suspects (Cuba, Terrence and Method Man). These six men are another amazing reason to go check out Red Tails if you haven’t already. Or see it again. Don’t believe me? Flip on through!
Even though there was no red carpet or anxious photagraphers in site, the honoring of the original Tuskegee Airmen at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza theater was nothing less than an memorable event.
The elderly men seen in wheelchairs, using canes or leaning on family for support constituted most of the remaining Los Angeles-area members of the original Tuskegee Airmen group, and they were there on Wednesday for a special showing of “Red Tails,” George Lucas’ multimillion-dollar portrayal of the first African-American air corps in the United States.
The sold-out screening packed in about 400 people, all of whom burst into tremendous applause when the World War II veterans stood at their seats. As some audience members snapped photographs, others took a moment to explain to their children “how big of a deal this is!” And throughout the night, the audience punctuated the film with laughter and applause. When the screening ended, the Los Angeles chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Inc. hosted a private reception with a live band, a buffet, a few short speeches and a movie poster signing by the airmen.
Los Angeles resident Levi Thornhill was one of the Tuskegee Airmen who came. He had been part of the original 332nd Fighter Group, who served with distinction as airplane escorts for bomber planes on strategic missions in Europe. After the film, he praised Lucas for his attention to detail and gave “Red Tails” a ringing endorsement.
“I’m wondering where in the world [Lucas] found all those P-51s, the Red Tails,” said the 89-year-old Thornhill. “I think he did a very good job, a very good job. And I’ve seen a lot of movies with airplanes in it!”
I went to go see Pariah over the weekend and actually, I really enjoyed it.
The film, which was written and directed by Dee Rees (protégé of Spike Lee’s protégé’), is a coming of age story of Alike, a 17-year-old Black girl from Harlem coming to terms with her own sexual identity as a lesbian and must waver the waters between her conservative mother, played by Kim Wayans, and her contradictory father, played by Charles Parnell. The film has been getting lots of praise for highlighting the invisible voice of black female queers in the community; however, the intense and strained relationship between mother and daughter has such a universal theme, which makes it relatable to just about anyone, who once struggled in their youth.
Yet the awesomeness of Pariah has been pretty much been overshadowed by the hype over Red Tails. Despite the film, which centers on the plight and fight of the Tuskegee airmen, being well in the works for well over two decades, the hype around it didn’t start until recently, when folks began to spread the fear of God that if the film is not a box office success than all hope for the future of black films is doomed.
It all started when George Lucas, the Star Wars guy and creator and financier of Red Tails, appeared on The Daily Show to promote the film and started talking about racism in Hollywood. In a follow up interview, Lucas hinted that if Red Tails was a failure, it could have negative repercussions for black filmmakers: “I realize that by accident I’ve now put the black film community at risk [with Red Tails, whose $58 million budget far exceeds typical all-black productions],” he said. “I’m saying, if this doesn’t work, there’s a good chance you’ll stay where you are for quite a while. It’ll be harder for you guys to break out of that [lower-budget] mold. But if I can break through with this movie, then hopefully there will be someone else out there saying let’s make a prequel and sequel, and soon you have more Tyler Perrys out there.”
Oh great, more Tyler Perrys.
Interesting enough, Red Tails was created by the same guy who brought us Jar Jar Binks, the computer-animated character who appeared in the Star Wars prequels and which generated much controversy over its racially charged, Rastafarian mimicry. So why there is such a heavy emphasis on supporting Lucas’ Red Tails while genuine black films like Pariah are left to their own devices?
First off, I take issue with what is essentially has been a fear and race-based marketing campaign by Lucas to persuade moviegoers, particularly Black moviegoers, to see this film. We are told that if it would be the end of Black filmmaking as we know it. Never mind, if the film is interesting or compelling or even entertaining. We have a racial duty to unite to see this film or else we make Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. weep?
And never mind that Hollywood has been operating with the same M.O. for decades and decades. The industry will not likely change even if the film magically breaks box office records, which it will probably not. Why? Well stories told from the black perceptive have always had trouble finding dedicated audiences outside of the community. Point blank, the mainstream is less inclined to see films featuring black actors. And if we are to go on the long rationalized reason that Hollywood is a business, than we can be certain that Red Tails, even if it is moderately successful, will not inspire the business to take a chance on us.
But of course, Black filmmakers have known this little secret, which Lucas appeared to just discover, for years. This might explain why Black filmmakers haven’t been waiting around for Hollywood to give the proverbial green light to make and finance their own films. They may not get the big audiences and big box office numbers as their mainstream counterparts but the lack of financial support from inside tinsel town isn’t stopping brothers and sisters from picking up cameras.
However, all may not be lost in the world of Black filmmaking if Red Tails tanks. As reported, Rees is currently working on a project for HBO that will feature actress Viola Davis and a thriller flick called “Bolo.” And on Sunday night, Pariah received a special shout-out at the Golden Globes by legendary film actress Meryl Streep. Likewise the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, also known as AFFRM, has been steadily pushing for the theatrical release of quality independent African-American films through simultaneous limited engagements in select cities including I Will Follow and Kinyarwanda. In short, the future of Black film – with or without the success of Red Tails – will survive.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the effort of Lucas to bring more Black films, or at the very least a black film funded by a white man, to the big screen, but if this flops, I think it is less likely that we can count on him bringing a sequel to the screen. And that is all. So folks can stop with the “must read” emails and Facebook invites for bus trips to the movie theater. There is no more of a moral obligation to see this flick as there would be for any other mainstream film, which lets us carry the lead.
Long gone are the days that we should have to feel a need to prove anything to Hollywood. If anything, it is the reverse. And if Hollywood is as racist as we all know it is why should we feel the need to let the decision of what images gets green-lighted continue to be placed in the hands of those, who don’t see us as human beings? I mean, the last time Hollywood took interest in the black market we got a bunch of one-dimensional Blaxiploitation and gangster flicks in both the 70s and in the 90s.
Instead let’s throw our support – and dollars – behind filmmakers, who continue to make conscious efforts to not only make films despite not having the blessings of mainstream Hollywood but make good films period.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
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During a recent appearance on “The Daily Show,” George Lucas described the problems he faced producing “Red Tails,” an action film about the Tuskegee Airmen opening January 20. The legendary creator of the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises said the film did not receive backing from Hollywood studios because of its all Black cast.
After 23 years of trying to create one of the first all Black action films ever made, Lucas was ultimately forced to finance the production and marketing of the film himself. It goes to show that you can’t always rely on the traditional way of doing things. Sometimes you have to go around the establishment.
Unlike George Lucas, you may not have $50 million to finance your dream project. Luckily, your venture probably doesn’t cost that much. You just have to get a little creative. If you run into finance issues, here are a few funding options you may not have considered:
Crowdsourcing involves collecting donations through an open call. That means asking any and everyone that thinks your idea is a good one to contribute to its success. Thanks to online funding platforms, like Kickstarter, you can do this without leaving your home.
Family and Friends
Your instinct may be to avoid borrowing money from those closest to you. However, this network may be the easiest way to finance your venture. It is best to keep monetary dealings professional, especially if the relationship is personal. Draw up a contract or promissory note. Get it notarized. This gives both parties a sense of security and avoids the drama that can come with verbal agreements.
Universities and companies often have business and entrepreneurial competitions to help fund creative ventures. Business plan competitions can require a lot of effort to enter and the payoff is not guaranteed. However, it doesn’t hurt to take a chance. The New York Times has a great guide on competitions for small businesses.
Microloans are great when you need a little cash to grow your business. Instead of going through a bank, you can obtain a small loan from private, nonprofit intermediaries. Accion USA, one of the largest microlenders in the United States, offers small business loans up to $50,000 as well as business consulting. Lending Club is an online platform that allows individual investors to make small investments of $25 or more until the full loan request is reached. Borrowers can get a personal loan up to $25,000 in three years with fixed interest rates that are often better than those of traditional lenders. Both services allow you to apply online for free.
A good partnership allows you to spread out business management responsibilities and financial burdens. It is important to be very selective when choosing a business partner. You will most likely be spending more time with this person than anyone else. Before you launch a business, be sure you and your partner’s values and vision for the new venture are aligned. Draw up a shareholder agreement before you incorporate to safeguard all parties in the event the partnership falls part.
Cortney Cleveland is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer working in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter @CleveInTheCity.
It’s so good to be black! In promoting their latest film, “Red Tails,” Elijah Kelly and Tristan Wilds swung by Tuskegee University. Instead of just participating in a mildly engaging question and answer session for an hour, the cast members joined some of the students on the yard for a “wobbling” session. Fun and good times ensued. If you’ve never wobbled, check the video, learn the dance and request it from the DJ at the next house party you attend.
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