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Sundance 2013 Preview - 'Milkshake' (Al Jolson Descendant Strives To Be Black)

by Tambay A. Obenson
January 2, 2013 1:04 PM
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David Andalman's Milkshake will make its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival later this month.

Written by Andalman and Mariko Munro, the film stars Tyler Ross, Shareeka Epps, Georgia Ford, Eshan Bay, Leo Fitzpatrick, and Danny Burstein.

Its synopsis, which is sure to raise a few antennae, reads:

In mid-1990s America, we follow the tragic sex life of Jolie Jolson, a wannabe thug (and great-great-grandson of legendary vaudevillian Al Jolson) in suburban Washington as he strives to become something he can never be – black.

So he's the great-great-grandson of a legendary entertainer who frequently performed in blackface makeup, sung black music, like jazz and blues (although he also promoted equality for black performers), who also wants to be black himself.

We've certainly had our share of white-boy-wants-to-be-or-acts-black films over the years. I skimmed the film's Facebook page for any hints at what we can expect from this film - I'm guessing it's more of a dramedy - but I got little from it. So I guess I'll take the old wait-and-see approach.

But I'm curious...

The photo above is of Shareeka Epps and Tyler Ross.

UPDATE: Reader Sara pointed us to a series of clips from the film, which you can watch, embedded below:

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  • Alex | January 2, 2013 11:00 PMReply

    Oh Sara, I think I love you.

  • Deecreative | January 2, 2013 8:30 PMReply

    Love the nostalgia though, playing Sega and he was like 'who's paging you?' Throwback indeed!

  • Deecreative | January 2, 2013 8:29 PMReply

    Sara...yes! This looks exactly like the Takoma Park short film you posted, the opening scene is almost the same too.

  • Darkan | January 2, 2013 1:43 PMReply

    I see a constant trend in a lot of first time white film makers who go to Sundance. Their films usually involve some controversy and they black people or themes to give their projects an edge. Once they move on to bigger projects after their success in Sundance, you hardly see anything black related at all in their films. I wonder what Behn Zeitlin's next film is gonna be? Hmmm...

  • Black Like Me | January 5, 2013 4:26 PM

    Darkan makes a good point though Sara, not just re: "Afro-American" phrasing. (I'm guessing predominately white suburbs, yes?)

  • Sara | January 2, 2013 4:27 PM

    I'm not sure what you mean, by who are you. If your asking if I'm black, then yes I am. I am not saying that those writers or directors that I point out have made their whole careers making films on "black people or themes." Each of them have made more than one film with a central black character or story. Craig Brewer did Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan. Ryan Fleck wrote and directed Half Nelson, Sugar, and directed some episodes of In Treatment. David Gordon Green wrote and directed George Washington and directed the TV Series Black Jack (but not sure if any networks picked it up). Benh Zeitlin wrote and directed Beasts of the Southern Wild, and his next film will include cast from BSW and set in Louisiana. My point is I don't see the trend of white indie filmmakers using black people or stories as a catalyst or to give "their projects an edge." Maybe I am not watching the same films or reading the same news stories.

  • Darkan | January 2, 2013 3:44 PM

    "Afro-American"??? Who are you? I do agree with you on the majors though. Still you haven't proved your point. I really don't want to start posting their resumes which would prove my point.

  • Sara | January 2, 2013 3:06 PM

    I am not sure what director/writers you're talking about, because the ones I'm thinking of are: Craig Brewer, Ryan Fleck, David Gordon Green, Benh Zeitlin (will use cast from BSW for next film on LA), and others. They either are in the process of creating or have wrote or directed more indies, major films, documentaries, and TV series including a black cast or/and "black themes." I wouldn't rush to make broad judgement about indie filmmaker. I think indie filmmakers are more realistic about including the Afro-American experience, then major filmmakers. With that being said I think the real issue has been major filmmakers, who don't have the "indie filmmaking spirit."

  • pureego | January 2, 2013 1:39 PMReply

    Thank you SARA.

  • Sara | January 2, 2013 1:29 PMReply

    There is also a multi-clip video uploaded yesterday on Youtube -

  • Sara | January 2, 2013 1:59 PM

    "Milkshake" seems like an expansion of his short film "Takoma Park", which has the same characters.

    "Takoma Park" -

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