Nina Simone fans who are leery of the Zoe Saldana biopic Nina take heart: Netflix quietly posted the trailer for What Happened, Miss Simone?, a documentary that has the support of the singer’s estate and features her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly.
“People think that when she went out on stage, she became Nina Simone,” Kelly says. “My mother was Nina Simone 24-7. And that’s where it became a problem.”
Directed by Oscar nominee Liz Garbus, the film — which is coming off an appearance at this year’s Sundance Film Festival — promises to feature rare and never-before-seen footage and tapes as part of a comprehensive look at not only Simone’s professional life, but her activism.
“I choose to reflect the times and the situations in which I find myself,” Simone says, amid chillingly-timely footage of police brutality and Black activists marching. “How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?”
Shadow & Actbig ups the phenomenal work being done by black women documentarians. Out of 151 Academy Award-qualifying documentaries (admittedly a large pool), more than five were directed by black women, including Free Angela and All Political Prisoners by Shola Lynch and Valentine Road by Marta Cunningham. Jai Tigget writes, “…black documentary filmmakers – and black women in particular – are doing groundbreaking work that continues to be overlooked even within the doc and independent film space. The films listed above have been awarded and recognized widely on the film festival circuit, but many are still struggling to get mentioned on the shortlists that will push them towards serious Oscar consideration.”
Also included among the qualifying documentaries by black women, Yoruba Richen’s The New Black, about race, sexuality, and the black church.
Just a few videos to start our journey toward the weekend.
David Neptune and Ken Tanaka’s “What Kind of Asian Are You?” has amassed nearly 3 million views since debuting during YouTube’s “Comedy Week” event last week, as a woman (Stella Choe) turns the table on a fellow jogger (Scott Beehner) who insists on finding out where she’s “really from”:
Speaking of Kickstarter, the sketch comedy group The Bilderbergers released this clever commercial spoof, “iNotRacist,” a satirical pitch for an app allowing well-meaning folks to tally up non-racist scores for everything from voting for candidates of color to “friending the Latino guy from lunch.”
We got to do our do, not separate, together Got to move on through, not separate, together Got to do our do, not separate, together Got to move on through, not separate, together - A Tribe Called Quest, “Separate/Together,” 1996
Going by the trailer to an upcoming documentary, A Tribe Called Quest’s reunion earlier this decade put those lyrics to the test.
Directed by actor Michael Rapaport, Beats, Rhymes & Life will include not only performance footage and interviews with members Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Jarobi White and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, but it looks like we’ll get to see how a feud between Phife and Q-Tip threatened to implode the group even as it returned to prominence.
“Is A Tribe Called Quest gonna make more music?” Rapaport asks Ali at one point. Ali’s response: “You got the answer to that question?”
Click here for a list of theatres that will show the film after it opens in July. The trailer, courtesy of Yahoo and Slashfilm, is under the cut. Continue reading →
I recognize the women in this preview: these women were me when I was growing up. The kids at my mostly black Catholic school called me just about every black-related perjorative ever since 3rd grade, letting me know and telling others within my earshot that I was physically inferior solely because I was dark-skinned. I even remember a boy in my 7th grade class drew a picture of me being nothing more than a solid black square. Even though the same kids voted me 8th grade class president…I was still considered in their estimation an ugly (vis-a-vis my skin tone) girl. Even had the only boy who was my boyfriend (we were in 8th grade) dump me for a lighter-skinned and younger girl, to the mocking laughter of the lighter-skinned students.
My mom—a dark-skinned African American herself—told me something that didn’t make any sense through my woundedness: “You know those light-skinned girls people think are pretty in school? Wait ‘til you’re grown and see where you’re at and where they’re at.” Added to this was my mom’s constant admonition to “get an education.” Well, sure enough, what my mom said came to pass. I’ve had photographers approach me and ask to photograph me. I had lovers of various hues—even had a husband. (He was white.) And women of various hues, races, and ethnicities have given me love on the streets, at the job, and at workshops.
I’m not sure how—or even if—some of the women in the clip worked through the pain some black people have inflicted on them. But, instead of the usual devolving, derailing, and erasing conversations of “that’s happened to me, too, though I’m a lighter-skinned black person!” (that’s a thread for another post) or “it wasn’t me! I’m a down black person!” (will be met with an exasperated eyeroll)…it would be a really good thing to simply listen to these women’s truths, as uncomfortable–sometimes, as implicating–as they may be.
I met filmmaker Faith Pennick when I lived and went to school in Boston. At the time she was promoting her film, Silent Choices. I traveled to the Big Apple to interview her for my now-defunct ‘zine when the Republicans decided to hold their convention and several New Yorkers weren’t having it. Just on the passion for her flick, I even tried to host a viewing/fundraiser for it. As people and life go, we lost touch.
Forward several years and my move to New York City. I reunited with Faith the other night at the full meeting of the reproductive-justice organization SisterSong NYC. Faith announced to the group her award-winning film is getting a free showing online today.
Her film addresses a rarely covered topic: Black women discussing their own experiences with getting abortions (trigger warning):
I can’t recommend Silence Choices highly enough, especially in light of how others are trying to dictate how Black women should feel about exercising our reproductive rights and are trying their damnedest to make sure we don’t have access to reproductive options. But just don’t take my word for it. This is what Professor Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body, has to say about the documentary: “Silent Choices explores not only black women’s personal and political struggles around reproductive freedom, but also the complexities of abortion too often ignored by the mainstream media. Silent Choices is essential viewing for students, scholars, and activists interested in reproductive justice for all women.”
For more information about Faith, her work, and more on Silent Choices, click here.
The conclusion of If God Is Willing And Da Creek Don’t Rise stays a little closer to home than Part 1 did, but, again, Spike Lee succeeds at telling this set of new stories through the connections not just in New Orleans, but throughout the Gulf region, before heading home for an uncompromising conclusion.
This time around, Lee starts his story with an examination of the New Orleans school system, where a look at the efforts to rebuild the Dr. King Jr. Charter School – now the only school in the Ninth Ward – segues into a discussion over the state of Louisiana’s take-over of New Orleans schools and the opening of the Recovery School District.
As the Dr. King School gets a visit from President Obama, and former Chicago school CEO Paul Vallas is brought in to serve as superintendent, we learn the recovery is far from easy: there’s mistrust of both Vallas’ approach and the teachers now working in the district; and allegations that the lingering traumas from Hurricane Katrina are still going untreated, leading to not only health issues but an increase in crime and violence: “The criminals are getting younger and younger.”
I just wanted to tip our readers in the L.A. area off about the West Coast premiere of After The Cup: Sons of Sakhnin United, which has been garnering praise around the documentary circuit for its’ story about Bnei Sakhnin F.C., a football team based out of the city of Sakhnin, an Israeli town that is home to more than 25,000 Arab Israelis. The team’s roster is comprised of both Arabs and Jews, and though some elements in the film hew close to more traditional “underdog” fare – because Sakhnin is a small club, for example, its’ facilities aren’t as modern as its’ competitors – it does change up the formula in one significant way: After The Cup deals with Sakhnin in the season after it won the Israeli Premier League’s championship, the State Cup. Slight spoiler here: the team soon finds it really is harder to stay on top than to get there.
Unfortunately, I can’t make the premiere – I live too far away – but if any of our readers can catch it this weekend, I’d be interested in getting your take on the film in this thread.
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World