The New Black Films
There is something to be said about the sheer volume of highly-anticipated films made by black filmmakers or about communities of color.
Creatively Speaking is a monthly curated film series offering a diverse forum that highlights independent film by and/or about people of color. It is curated by Michelle Materre (a New School media studies professor) in partnership with the new cinema and event space, My Image Studios (MIST), in Harlem. They also produce a regular podcast. A few days ago, the podcast focused on what they term “The New Black,” where they discussed three new films of the Black Diaspora: Alain Gomis’ “Tey” (coming to the US and reviewed before for this blog by Jonathan Duncan), Andrew Dosunmu’s “Mother of George,” and Shaka King’s “Newlyweeds.” Listen here. The podcast is definitely worth a listen and includes interviews with the filmmakers themselves. Whether or not there is truly serious momentum building for black film (or specifically films by African directors) here in the US remains to be seen, but there is something to be said about the sheer volume of highly-anticipated films made by black filmmakers or about communities of color being released in the coming weeks.
Just look at the lineup of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). At this point, most people have heard all about films like Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” (and the strange questions McQueen was subjected to at a press conference at Toronto), the film adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun” (first reviews are lukewarm) and even “Mother of George”.
However, there has been less chatter about films like French-Senegalese director Gomis’ beautiful and meditative film “Tey” (Today), which stars the formidable American hip hop artist and poet, Saul Williams, and tells the story of a man’s last day of life spent wandering through the Senegalese capital, Dakar. I’ll have more on “Tey” and “Mother of George” to come, but for those who are interested, “Mother of George” starts a New York City run today at the Angelika Theater in the West Village.
Meanwhile, the folks in charge of Tey’s distribution in the US are attempting a slightly different and hybridized model. They are trying to have truly community-driven releases throughout the country. The film premieres at MIST (in Harlem’s Little Senegal area) on Sunday, October 6. It will run in New York for 2 weeks, before traveling to New Orleans, Atlanta, Nashville, DC, LA, Oakland, San Francisco, and Vancouver.
Full disclosure: I’ve been working with the film’s distribution company, BelleMoon Productions, to do some outreach and promotion. Regardless of my association, I still think they are doing something really exciting with the film’s distribution, whereby those equipped and interested can co-host a screening of the film in their community.