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Monday, June 23, 2014

Films of Color

Black films continue to have a hard time tapping into the mainstream movie scene. The ones that actually make it to local theaters near you are usually subject to ridicule and bad critiques.

Take this past weekend for example; Think Like a Man Too hit theaters and generated roughly $30 million during its opening weekend, which placed the film at No.1 in the box office, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Movie critics were harsh prior to the release. US Metro, film and tech editor, Matt Prigge’s headline read, "The second 'Think Like a Man' ditches the self-help and the laughs,” Kate Erbland of Film.com wrote, “It’s all, quite strangely, boring,” and Anita Gates of the New York Times thought that, “Things turn loud and desperate and stay that way.” The critiques on Meta Critic goes on and on but none of the negative critics made any comments once the numbers rolled out Monday morning.


Despite all of the less favorable comments, Think Like a Man Too, pushed 22 Jump Street into the No.2 slot, which generated $29 million for the weekend, and How to Train Your Dragon 2  flew into the No.3 slot with $25.3 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

It's safe to say that Think Like a Man Too proved their critics wrong.


(Twitter Convo)
The day that Think Like a Man Too came out, there was a stir on social media where tweeters, including myself, had spats about "Black Films.”

Is the term "Black movies" offensive? To be quiet honest, I am not sure. I guess the question is, how does Jewish film, or Spanish film, or Caucasian film sound to you?

Here's the bottom line, we don't see enough people of color on the mainstream big screen, nor do we see a diverse mix of filmmakers, producers and directors taking home highly coveted awards for their movies. Point. Blank. Period.

Why do I call it mainstream big screen? Well, I recently saw a documentary during the American Black Film Festival in New York City. The screening of 25 to Life, was directed and produced by a team of talented Black Americans. However, this movie did not hit the mainstream big screen yet and the creators are definitely trying to break through the glass ceiling.

The only reason why I knew about the film is because one of the producers came to a New York Association of Black Journalist meeting to tell us about the film and when it will be taking place.

I didn't see a plethora of signs around the city that the ABFF was taking place. I didn't see it listed in any of the daily newspapers or aggregated content on my news applications. I didn't even see a commercial. It was all through word of mouth.

(25 to Life/ABFF)
25 to Life was thought provoking, compelling and I am sure once it hits theaters across the country it will change lives. (My views on the documentary coming soon in a future post)

There weren’t a lot of people talking about ABFF. Well, people were talking about Spike Lee’s film, “Sweet Blood of Jesus” which premiered at the ABFF. And I did see a couple of write ups in the paper.  But zero on 25 to Life.

OK, I know what you must be thinking “Spike Lee is mainstream big screen” but I am going to ask that you put that aside. Yes it’s true that Lee has been in the game for awhile but I’m sure he would agree that films of color has yet to get their fair share in movie land.

The sad part is that films of color have a hard time getting distribution throughout the United States.

The feeling of disappointment soon drifted while I watched the upcoming movie previews at the festival. I learned that more and more Black filmmakers, producers, directors and actors are taking charge of their destiny and not waiting for their creation to hit the mainstream big screen. There are other avenues that they've taken and I must admit, I was surprised.

The preview featured UPTV and the shows that are broadcasted on the channel. UPTV describes its brand as an uplifting, entertainment, family friendly, network cable television channel. The channel carries a diverse mix of shows  and movies including, Steve Harvey's daytime talk show, the movie Comeback Dad, and My Dad’s a Soccer Mom.

Did you know that there's a movie coming out called “Get on Up – The Story of James Brown? There’s also a movie called “Addicted” coming out, and yes it stars Black actors. Well, I didn't get that information from the mainstream big screen or television. They came from the ABFF during the movie previews. Yes, I plan on seeing them. Where and when? I don't exactly know but I’ll share the listings and release dates as soon as I find them.

Point is, there are some serious "Black films" out there. Whether they are by Black Americans or Ethiopians, Black filmmakers, producers, actors, and directors are making their mark and they aren't sitting back waiting to get noticed. I am 100 percent sure as they keep on sharing powerful stories of people of color it’s only a matter of time that the mainstream big screen big wig executives will start taking notice.

Until that happens be sure to keep your eyes and ears wide open for more films of color and movie festivals in your area. And then purchase those tickets!

What film of color/Black films have you seen lately? Do you have any recommendation? Share your answers below or tweet me @TCsViews.

Black films I've seen this year:  
  • The Abominable Crime - Exposing the roots of homophobia in Jamaican society. This documentary tells the story of a mother's love for her child and an activist's love for his country
  •  Difret - A true story of a 14 year-old Ethiopian girl who resorts to violence to escape being kidnapped into marriage
  • 25 to Life - A retrospective of a young man’s life with HIV and a documentary of his struggle to carve out an open honest future after living a controversial past. (I don't want to ruin it for you. Just keep a look out for a future post. In the meantime here's the trailer, and a part 1 of my view.

I'll share my views on these Black films and more as I find them.


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