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The New York Times Discovers Indie Black Filmmakers

by Sergio
December 25, 2011 9:03 AM
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"Medicine for Melancholy"

And about time too! But seriously, in this Sunday's New York Times there's a front page article written by Nelson George in the Arts and Lesiure section (read HERE) about the current crop of independent black filmmakers working today. The very same filmmakers we deal with practically every day right here on S & A.

Now I'm all for it of course. Any attention and publicity that these filmmakers can get is great. But at the same time, I have to say to the NY Times: "Where in the hell have you guys been?" 

I guess there's been enough articles already about Scorsese and Fincher and they were looking around for something new to write about. Then again there's another part of me that says the article is really for people (both white and black) who think that black filmmaking starts and ends with Tyler Perry. (Those poor misguided souls!)

So I look at the article as sort of an introductory course by George (your guide for all things black) for those out there who have no idea what else is going on in black cinema, and hopefully will lead them to US, to keep them current on what's going on, and not rely on the NY Times for an article once every decade or so about black films.

The Times also has a video with George discussing the new wave in black cinema which you can watch here:

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  • Its me auntie | November 27, 2012 5:12 AMReply

    Check out this clip...there are a number of movies highlighted here that I mentioned to you.

  • Bill Toles | December 26, 2011 10:53 AMReply

    In the "where have you guys been?" category please include yourselves (you just got here too) and the indie movement itself. As a member of the BDC (Black Documentary Collective -- r.i.p St. Clair Bourne Jr.) and a Sundance Producers Workshop alum from the late 90's I can vouch for just how slow to turn recognition from the entire industry, both writ large and it's feeder system/farm team, has been. It's a show-business axiom, the Dilating Black Gaze, the back half of which is that it will turn it's face away again. There are many corollaries to be drawn, but I'll leave that to the thread to discuss. But one I would like to put on the table is a Narrative version of the BDC. Don't knock the article - it's a Times article, summing for those not-yet-in-the-know. And it still matters big-time to be considered, if only for this moment in media technology, "Fit To Print."

  • Roko | December 26, 2011 12:18 PM

    Like Sergio said, purely an intro article not fitting for someone of his stature and writing background. He seemed dismissive of the movement, we heard from none of the few east coast newer image-makers that saw fit to include. The only none east coast person was Jenkins but if you are mentioning him you have to mention Dennis Dortch who played Sundance that same year and received distribution al-though he was not as celebated by the white establishment like Jenkins. But I agree with other people here- AFFRM, I Will Follow, putting out Kinyawanda, the new one at the next Sundanc- not having Duvernay in there is just not writing facts and is a glaring dumb omission. Tana Hamilton is loudly omitted too. Sundance, major distribution and good reviews.

  • LeonRaymond Mitchell | December 26, 2011 1:31 AMReply

    This is why there is only a Black Clique, not a group of filmmakers of color, way too many names missing , way too many and where on his BS list is my Latino Film makers (Oh that's right Black elite Racism ) disgusting article !

  • JMac | December 26, 2011 6:31 PM

    In case anyone has missed the point, the blog is called Shadow & Act: On Cinema of the (black) African Diaspora. If the rant was about the lack of black Latinos, nobody would have replied - because their exclusion in the article is implied, being a part of the African Diaspora. A filmmaker getting - or God forbid, desiring - publicity has nothing to do with being inside or outside of the mainstream or seeking its approval/validation. Everybody needs publicity to showcase works and allow potential audiences to find him/her. The indie filmmaker needs it more than the mainstream filmmaker. I always differentiated between the two based on where the film's funds come from and the amount of creative control kept by the filmmaker. Didn't know wanting black indies to get more attention = sell out to the mainstream.

  • JGim | December 26, 2011 4:22 PM

    What about Asian American filmmakers? What about [fill in the blank]? Based on the rants, here, sounds like these arguments have little or nothing to do with fairness, justice, mutual support, celebration of voices or "multiculturalism." This has to do with personal ego, power trips and plays, and the obvious bottom line -- MONEY. Also, if you want to critique mainstream culture, I thought the point was to remain outside of it -- to keep a marginalized vantage to enable you to do thoughtful critique --- not JOIN it or remain desperate to get external validation or approval.

  • BONDGIRL | December 26, 2011 11:16 AM

    Shut the fuck up! You are on here all the time with your same tirade about where is the love for Latino filmmakers? The title of the article is about black filmmakers showcasing another side to BLACK LIFE, not Hispanic's. Were there any Spanish filmmakers in 2011 making films about a different side of how we live and who we are? No? Then go sit down. Besides, Spanish directors are getting recognition from the NY Times and other publications in their 2011 films like, The Skin I Live In, Albert Nobbs, The Way, and Oscar contender Miss Bala. Spanish filmmakers, whether Hollywood or indie, subscribe to the same cronyism that Nelson George AND George Lucas do, so you can knock off the futile worship of them. I speak Spanish, watch Spanish tv/films, and little to none have black people in the movie. Who the hell are you trying to fool?

  • FilmGuy | December 26, 2011 7:14 AM

    Get out of here with that bull ish man. Latino filmmakers don't get included in here because in terms of color, they have always been generally more accepted by mainstream media and cultures around the globe. Any (fill in the blank) of color is going to refer to the people which have been overwhelming oppressed for centuries, Africans.

  • c. | December 25, 2011 4:41 PMReply

    IKNOWNELSON: I definitely agree with you. All, and even the majority, of black cinema does NOT come from NYU or new york city. There are so many filmmakers and films he didn't mention, and it's NOT "Ernesto Johnson" (it's "Rashaad Ernesto Green!). Incomplete, partial pseudo-journalism that's no different from the white mainstream, so-called "news sources."

  • IKnowNelson | December 25, 2011 4:15 PMReply

    Missing so many people. Not particulary well researched and very NYU/Spike Lee fawny. Where's Ava Duvernay and I Will Follow? Where's Tanya Hamilton and Night Catches Us? Where's Rodney Evans who did the great Brother to Brother and has a new one coming? Where's the Mississippi Damned ladies? Where's Kareem Mortimer's Children of God? This feels like Mr. Nelson 'Years Past His Questionable Prime' George did this off the top of the dome. The New York Times is late and lacking in who they chose to do this. Tambay or Vanessa or Sergio would have done a better and less lazy job. I dont appreciate him calling Dee Rees boyish either. Some sexist shit. He would have never called a male director effeminate. It's just self hate. Nelson George has a history of sexist, lazy journalism if you can call it that. This guy needs to go back to doing bad travel videos that no one watches. Black cinema and the new movement (not mini movement, as he demeans it) deserves a better chronicler. Long live Shadow and Act.

  • DJay | December 26, 2011 2:15 AM

    George is trying to stay "relevant." Translation: needs the day job in this economy to make a little coin and stay afloat.

  • Laura | December 25, 2011 7:33 PM

    Everything IKNOWNELSON said.

  • Ashley | December 25, 2011 3:38 PMReply

    Ernesto Johnston???

  • Joy | December 26, 2011 10:35 AM

    The misspelling of Green's name was the first thing that got me until I realized he made no mention of AFFRM, I Will Follow or Ava DuVernay which are undeniably one of the most significant black film stories of 2011. How could that simply be left out and how can the prestigious NY TIMES spell ANYBODY's name wrong? If Nelson George epic fails that's one thing but what about the crack team of copy editors and fact checkers!

  • Tahir J | December 25, 2011 1:04 PMReply


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