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Thursday
Oct062011

Why I Have 83% Support for Black Movie Month #BMM #iSupport #indiefilm #blackfilm #atthemovies

Hollywood,Movies,Filmmaking

What will it take to get me to 100%? Less begging and more control of how our films get noticed. Producer and distributor Film Life and Black Enterprise magazine are teamed up to designate October as Black Movie Month with six actions that African-American movie goers can do right now and throughout coming weeks in support of black films. I like what these two entities are doing and appreciate the dialogue that Black Movie Month can open up for African-American audiences, so October is a month that I will do the following:

#1 Pledge to pay admission for another person to attend the screening of a black film during the month of October.

#2 Buy a black film on DVD to give as a prize to one reader of this blog, The Madlab Post.

#3 Read black film publications Shadow and Act more often to stay informed on black films, because I admit...I tend to read more either mainstream or general publications that discuss film as a whole rather than a specific area of it.

#4 Discuss the effects of stereotypical images portrayed in film and how to either lower their presence or at the very least, get more positive images on screen to offer a balance between the two, with friends, relatives, associates and strangers that I am around throughout this month.

#5 Raise funds to make the short film that I delayed back in January and go into pre-production on the feature that I've had on the shelf for years or at the very least, attempt a 48-hour weekend short AND support (see #1) the work of another black filmmaker.

but I will NOT, I repeat, will NOT sign a petition that asks Hollywood Studios to make, release and promote movies that feature more diverse storylines for African-Americans and movies that feature African-Americans in leading roles.

Hollywood,Movies,Filmmaking

I am not in favor of petitioning Hollywood for inclusion of positive and/or non-stereotypical roles for African-Americans because it is counterproductive to what those who are seeking this want to achieve.

Whoever or whomever is footing the bill for the movies that are currently being offered in movie theaters can produce whatever stories and lead with any group of actors they want.
It all comes down to dollars and cents, but c'mon people.....I know most of us already know that.

So why waste time and energy trying to convince someone or a group of companies to change the way they do business when we can use that same amount of effort to get the kind of stories that we want to be told and the kind of actors that we want to bring those stories to life the necessary backing and tools to do so?

It is pure nonsense to whine to Hollywood studios about the marginalized treatment that us given to black film and the scarcity of quality stories with African-Americans in leading roles, as if these things don't exist....because they do.

The actions numbers 1 through 5 that people are urged to take in celebration of or in support of Black Movie Month proves such existence of black films.

I am not urging anyone to refrain from signing the petition. Men and women of all races, colors, creeds, ethnicities and cultures can do what you desire for Black Movie Month. However, I know for sure that there is another way to watch more diverse stories with African-Americans on film.

In the 1960s, Melvin Van Peebles showed us another way when he found success making films out of the country and today, Ava DuVernay is spearheading another path for black films that are nothing like the offensive Hollywood fare, with the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM)....so no one rallying against Hollywood's current way of doing things can convince me that we are not being represented enough nor represented properly.

Hollywood has the money, right? Well then my dearest, fellow African-Americans, please understand that this means they make the rules....at least in their neck of the woods. The studios do not have to hire Idris Elba or Regina King if they don't want to. They can hire Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie if they so desire and there is nothing wrong with these decisions because....wait for it.....wait for it.....it is THEIR money.

The $513 million that African-Americans spend annually on movies despite having prominent representation in less than 1% of films released this year does not show that Hollywood needs to make more black films. These numbers actually show the opposite....that the African-American movie going audience is satisfied with what is available at their local cineplex, or it shows Hollywood studios that at the very least, African-Americans are willing to spend money on entertainment even if they are underrepresented and/or misrepresented in the films being released.

Speaking of misrepresentation, Tyler Perry is the highest earning man in the entertainment industry right now. At $130 million, Perry surpasses critically acclaimed director Steven Spielberg and powerhouse producer Jerry Bruckheimer (two of the most successful people in entertainment) in earnings.

It is then no surprise that his movie, "Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family" is one of the only four films released this year that Black Enterprise says feature African-Americans in leading roles or producing positions. If Perry is the highest paid producer and director in Hollywood, then somebody is....correction, a lot of audiences are contributing to his high box office success and I'd be willing to bet that it's not exclusively white, Asian nor Hispanic audiences who are filling those theater seats on opening weekend.

Tyler Perry, an African-American man who makes films by, about and starring us (which fixes the underrepresentation claim in the petition to studios, by the way...I'm just saying) is, or appears to be a dominant figure in Hollywood right now due to the support of an African-American movie going audience, despite the fact that his movies feature the very characters, stereotypes and messages that people are asking entertainment industry studios to ease up on....Hello pot, meet kettle!

Black Movie Month is a powerful and moving way to support black filmmakers and their films as well as a great start in getting African-American audiences to seek out and learn more about DVDs and screenings that are available to us.

However, members of this audience who are making arguments about unfair representation in Hollywood and blaming studios for the small selection of black film releases while still supporting films that do not help their cause are creating their own problem with what gets top cinema billing.

Check yourself, your wallet and your own African-American leaders in the film industry first, before you go calling foul to the green-lighting boys at the Hollywood gates.

Or better yet, support the black films that ARE available, wherever they are....on DVD, local arthouse theaters, galleries, hosted screenings, film festivals, television, iTunes, Video-on-Demand, Netflix, Blockbuster, Redbox or the local library...wherever you find them (NO Bootlegs, please!), whenever you can.

If you don't know where to start, here are three films that I recommend:

"Night Catches Us" directed by Tonya Hamilton

Now available on DVD and Video On Demand. Visit the website for more information.

"Make a Movie Like Spike" directed by Jamil Walker-Smith
Movies,Hollywood,Filmmaking
Screening in select cities. Visit the website for this film to learn more information.

"Mooz-Lum" directed by Quasim Basir

Screening at colleges and in select cities. Also available for Pre-Order on DVD. Visit the website for more information. This is the only movie on this list that I did not watch yet.

Of all who are encouraging people to sign the Hollywood studios petition for better representation of African-Americans on film and of all who have already signed the petition, I wonder how many are working on other avenues to reach their goal such as opening movie theaters, moving into distribution, making deals with black owned cable networks or starting their own, developing a collaborative network of film screening venues and retail outlets that sell black film DVDs to consumers and how many, I mean really, are supporting black films available in the digital space through iTunes, the filmmaker's websites, e-commerce stores and the like. I'd be willing to bet that it's less than half.

Me, sign a petition asking Hollywood to change their ways and support more diverse work featuring African-Americans when my own fellow man and fellow woman seem to stop their efforts for improvements in this area at a name on a letter to the so-called powers that be?

No Thanks.

What are YOUR thoughts on petitioning Hollywood studios on elements of film that matter to you?

Are petitions worth the effort?

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Monday
Oct032011

Broke Ass People Movies

Oh, how time is flying. It’s a pleasure to start of the first week of October this year by hosting the Monday Movie Meme. Today, the tour stops here after Dale at Smurfin the Web had us traveling through our country last week for a fun-filled Monday. This week’s topic is Poverty. Bloggers participating in this week’s meme are welcome to write about movies that either feature characters experiencing financial hardship or have plot lines centered on the difficulties of making ends meet. Here are my selections of films that are on or below the poverty line.

The Local

Categorized as an action-drama, “The Local” is an independent film that someone recommended to me earlier this summer. The story follows a man who is pretty much down on his luck and has not accomplished much in life. He makes like $35 a day as some kind of errand boy, running drugs for a group of off-the-wall dealers and lives in the cold basement of a couple’s home. All seems to look bleak in his future until a wealthy businessman comes along and offers him a lot of money. Sounds good but there is just one catch.....he has to rescue the strung-out daughter of this businessman.

This poverty stricken man has to make a decision on whether risking his life for a total stranger is worth the cash or declining the offer and continuing in the current danger that is already present as he does illegal stuff just to get by. The associate who told me about this movie said it “looks like a documentary” where the production is concerned. I would agree but sometimes the scenes are far too shaky for me to even pay attention. The acting works for this type of story but the same type of performances would fall short in a similar crime drama such as “The Town” or even other gritty street stories like “The Local” stars Dan Eberle, who also directed this movie. Rent it, or hell....buy it....it’s only like $3 on Amazon!

Born into Brothels

This documentary tells the story of children in the Calcutta district who are taught photography skills, which help them go on to have more options for education and improving their lives. As always in real life, some of the childrens’ adult relatives influence the decisions that they make about staying in the same predicament or trying to whether to take advantage of the opportunities given to them. “Born into Brothels” is an inspiring movie and the main characters are children.....who can say no to that? Not me. Can you?

"Million Dollar Baby" was a runner up for this post but I already discussed this movie in more than a few previous posts on this blog, so it doesn't have to be repeated.

That’s all I have for now. If I think of any more throughout the week, I’ll add them to this post.

What movies come to YOUR mind on the subject of poverty or being broke?

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Monday
Sep262011

City Centered Movies in My Netflix Queue #GBE2 #amwriting #meme

Or shall I say, my Quickster queue? That’s a discussion for another day. It’s time for another stop on the Monday Movie Meme tour and this week’s topic title, courtesy of Dale over at Smurfin’ the Web is “The City’s The Place.”

Monday Movie Meme

Dale says:
The topic of this weeks discussion is movies that contain the name of a city in its title. Pretty simple really, but can you come up with some good ones? Lets see shall we?

After reading Dale’s post, it looks like another participant took all the good ones.....even ones that are set and were made where I live right now...so here are a few selections I came up with while quickly browsing through my movie rental list. These titles are from movies that I have not yet seen but want to watch sometime in the near future. I selected them to also keep in line with the Group Blogging Experience’s week #15 prompt: Longing while trying to get up to date after slacking off since the week of Growing Wild.

ATL
Set in City: Atlanta, Georgia
Monday Movie Meme

What is all the hype about? It is the same question I ask myself every time a friend, relative or acquaintance talks about this movie. Most people that I know who saw “ATL” enjoyed it and have good things to say about this movie. In fact, it is one of my cousin’s favorite movies but I just don’t understand what makes it so special. Maybe it’s the hip-hop/R&B music industry centered story that caused my confusion about it’s huge amount of support among movie goers, maybe it’s the fact that it is directed by a guy who has worked on more music videos and television commercials than films or maybe it’s the singers, rappers and video models in leading roles more than actors who make most of their living doing just that.....acting.

I didn’t want to see “ATL” when it was released in theaters because the movie trailer nor the cast made me put it in my weekend plans and if I never watch this film, I probably won’t wonder what could have been, but......it’s in my Netflix queue so that I can at least find out why people praise this movie.

If I must leave you all with one thing, it is that while these movies are currently on my Netflix queue, this does not mean I will get it from Netflix. I’m still going to rent them but it may be from another company or service depending on the title’s availability my schedule.

Jasper, Texas
Set in City: Jasper, Texas (but c’mon, you all knew that already, right?)
Monday Movie Meme

After watching a documentary called “Two Towns of Jasper,” I am interested in finding out if a Hollywood version does this true-life murder any justice. Sometimes, the producers get it right (hmm, maybe “Antwone Fisher,” anyone?) and in an attempt to add their own flair to it, sometimes they transform what actually happened into an absurd story that makes it almost offensive to those who lived through the reality of what a film is trying to represent.....you know, like “Pearl Harbor” (I still like this movie though, in a dramatic sense, from a Hollywood-ized, entertained viewer’s standpoint).

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Set in City: Tokyo, Japan
Monday Movie Meme

How, exactly does this film fit within the whole Fast & Furious film franchise? It’s set in Tokyo with a story that involves Japanese organized crime gang, Yakuza, which may make for an action-packed story aside from the race cars. I’ve never been too interested in watching “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” but added it to my Netflix queue anyway just in case I can compare the movie to others in the series and learn some new ideas for event costumes or decorations.

What movies with a City in their title would YOU add to this list?