Thursday, May 2, 2013

Evolution in Black Film?

I was on a short film shoot with one of my filmmaker friends (who also happens to be black) recently and in between shots/when our services weren't needed we got into a discussion about film which turned into an argument about the new James Bond movie and which of the Chris Nolan Dark Knight trilogy was the best and for what reason.  He happens to be a very harsh critic of film which I appreciate for a guy who aspires to be a serious filmmaker.  I thought to myself, this guy is going to make some great films. His arguments, though I disagree with many of them, were strong concise and clearly come from an artist who loves the medium and takes every aspect of its creation seriously.  Seeing Black filmmakers display that type of passion gets me excited for the future of black film.  One focus of the discussion shifted to the question of whether a film with an all black cast can exist without drawing attention to its blackness in the same way a film that doesn't include a single black character (or extra) can exist without drawing attention to race or ethnicity.  My filmmaker friend immediately decided that having a film with an all black cast will inevitably bring attention to its blackness.  His argument being that being black is so complex that it will infiltrate the story and become its own character.  He makes a good point.  Creating a film with an all black cast that purposefully tries to avoid the issue of race may be seen as self-hating and dismissive.  I thought of it more and came to the conclusion that maybe he's right.  Maybe being black in America carries with it too many historical connotations and societal sentiments to be able to allow an audience to believe that a main black character doesn't encounter interact with one white face for the entirety of a compelling story without featuring race.  BUT I saw this trailer recently from this independent Black filmmaker which caused me to think otherwise.  Maybe Black film can evolve past a racial distinction into a realm of pure cinema.

On a completely random internet search, I found something that really intrigued me.  A trailer for a film from a Black filmmaker named Terence Nance.  I hadn't seen a trailer for a film that excited me quite like this.  It features live action and multiple types of animation, it was colorful and seemingly inventive.  Right up my alley. What caught my eye was a link in the corner of my screen that read "Jay Z produces new film Flying Lotus scores".  I thought "HOLY SHIT  I'm in for a treat!"  As a recent art school dropout (a story for another blog post), I am always interested in Black artists particularly in film, a medium I have been tip toeing around for a number of years now.  And I have an affinity for avant garde art, film and music.  I think its the boldest kind of art particularly when coming from minorities  because I understand the bravery that every artist must have to even continue knowing full well the adversity and scrutiny and rejection you will inevitably face. Add that to being a minority and the innumerable struggles associated with race and then throw in a blatant desire to make art that you know can be polarizing.  These are the artists in my opinion that tend to yield astonishing results regardless of the medium.  The film is called "An Oversimplification of Her Beauty" I have no doubt its awesome although I've only been able to check out the trailer.  The film documents a relationship between a filmmaker and the girl of his dreams as it "teeters between the platonic and the romantic."   I was so intrigued that I had to find out if he had other works available to view.  It didn't take me long but I found his site and subsequently watched all of his short films music videos and documentaries.  Yeah.  Im pretty positive the feature is going to be great.  Check out the trailer!

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