Tag Archives: movies

Violence against Indigenous Women: Fun, Sexy, and No Big Deal on the Big Screen

by Guest Contributor Elissa Washuta, originally published on Tumblr

Captain Hook kidnaps Tiger Lily in Peter Pan.

Captain Hook kidnaps Tiger Lily in Peter Pan.

The body of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, a member of Sagkeeng First Nation, was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg on August 17. Her murder has brought about an important conversation about the widespread violence against First Nations women and the Canadian government’s lack of concern.

In her August 20 Globe and Mail commentary, Dr. Sarah Hunt of the Kwagiulth band of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation wrote about the limited success of government inquiries and her concerns about other measures taken in reaction to acts of violence already committed, such as the establishment of DNA databases for missing persons. Dr. Hunt writes:

“Surely tracking indigenous girls’ DNA so they can be identified after they die is not the starting point for justice. Indigenous women want to matter before we go missing. We want our lives to matter as much as our deaths; our stake in the present political struggle for indigenous resurgence is as vital as the future.”

Violence against indigenous women is not, of course, happening only in Canada. In the U.S., for example, the Justice Department reports that one in three American Indian women have been raped or experienced an attempted rape, and the rate of sexual assault against American Indian women is more than twice the national average. This violence is not taking place only in Indian Country. Continue reading

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Open Thread: What Makes A Black Film a Black Film?

By Kendra James

Every so often it pays to check in on the current “Black Film” rubric– ie, What makes a Black Film a Black Film? It’s a question I found myself struggling with as I wrote about Dear White People last week and realised that I couldn’t bring myself (and director Justin Simien didn’t want his audience) to stick it in the same category of Madea’s kooky and poorly directed adventures. But why is that?

Like a lot of popular movies that fall into the Black Film category Dear White People has a majority black cast, a black director, and deals with subject matter meant to resonate with a Black audience. Yet even beyond being an Indie, it’s clearly a different beast than 2014′s well performing Ride Along which seems to more easily fall into the traditional Black Film category. Making comparison and thinking about other movies that also seem to fall without question into that category -let’s consider movies like The Best Man series, the Barbershop series, and romcoms in the vein of Think Like a Man or Why Did I Get Married- I started to wonder if maybe it becomes a question of quality.

To include quality on the rubric is clearly problematic, leaning towards the implication that to be placed in the Black Film means to be a bad film. But do we place 12 Years A Slave in that same Black Film category? What about The Butler? They fall under the drama genre, but so do movies like Stomp The Yard, ATL, Coach Carter, or The Inkwell; a group of enjoyable, if otherwise unnotable films, with black directors and casts found under the “Urban Drama” category on Amazon . (Urban Drama being another way of saying “a drama with Black people in it.”)

Does it really come down to a question of quality with, perhaps, a side of pedigree- films nominated for multiple awards in various categories? It’s a tricky qualifier. Stomp The Yard with white protagonists is called Bring It On and it’s a comedy or a teen movie, not a “white film”. Coach Carter is called Hoosiers or Miracle and again it’s not a white film, it’s a sports drama. The Inkwell becomes a drama/romantic comedy directed by Nancy Meyers, starring Meryl Streep, and… well, you can see the trend. There’s no real need to recategorise any of these films as “Black” or “Urban”, but for some reason we do.

But what if beyond the merits of the cast, director, subject matter, and relative quality, it’s a simple matter of character relateability? White viewers are conditioned with the societal requirement that it’s necessary to at least pretend to empathise with the Solomon Northups of the world. The Kenya McQueens? Not so much. With that we’re left with a qualifier almost more insulting than the question of quality. While Black audiences are expected to relate and empathize with white characters in films regularly, the moment we ask them to do the same for us suddenly it’s a Black Film. In that case, the categorization is almost left up to the white viewer alone.

So is it cast/director, subject matter, quality, or a question of white audiences being unable to empathise with characters who look nothing like them? What actually makes a Black Film? Thoughts?

The American Standards of Media Consumption

By Guest Contributor OnTay Johnson

Illus_IMG

Illustration by Joseph Lamour.

According to the powers that be, I just may not be “with it” when it comes to American pop culture.  In my 30-plus years of life, I’ve noticed from time to time I’m made to be a fool because I haven’t seen some movie, didn’t recognize the face or name of some celebrity (dead or alive) and the list goes on.  I use to attribute this to growing up in a small city but as I got older and more socially conscious, I recognized that there was a pattern to this projection of person, places or things that I “should just know”.  That pattern adhered to the social construction of the status quo—whiteness.

Don’t get me wrong, as an African American in America, I’m hip to most things considered “popular” in our society.  Our education system alone makes sure you get peppered with the whiteness of American culture.  It’s the media that really hammers it home though.  How can one not be aware of whiteness when this country’s information systems constantly feed it to you as a diet day after day?  When a majority of magazines have a person that’s white on the cover and when a majority of television is white and our history books cover the “heroic” deeds of white men from the beginnings of this “unsettled” country until now, then it’s inevitable to not be aware of the whiteness screaming at you.  So yeah, I’m familiar with most things but it’s the fact that I’m a minority that I don’t always swallow everything fed to me.

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Black Punks

 

A Band Called Death, a film by Drafthouse Films, debuted Friday in select cities and is also available via digital download and on iTunes.

Punk before punk existed, three teenage brothers in the early ’70s formed a band in their spare bedroom, began playing a few local gigs and even pressed a single in the hopes of getting signed. But this was the era of Motown and emerging disco. Record companies found Death’s music— and band name—too intimidating, and the group were never given a fair shot, disbanding before they even completed one album. Equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family love story, A Band Called Death chronicles the incredible fairy-tale journey of what happened almost three decades later, when a dusty 1974 demo tape made its way out of the attic and found an audience several generations younger. Playing music impossibly ahead of its time, Death is now being credited as the first black punk band (hell…the first punk band!), and are finally receiving their long overdue recognition as true rock pioneers. More at Drafthouse Films…

Also, Death members, Bobby and Dannis Hackney, spoke to Huffington Post about race, punk, 70s-era Detroit and their move from the Motor City to Vermont.

(H/T Shadow and Act)

Casting Call: Lucy, the Mutant Human/Angel Hybrid Who Speaks with an Asian Accent (But is not Asian)

Image Credit: Schmector on Flickr

Image Credit: Schmector on Flickr

 

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man; originally published at Angry Asian Man

Uhhh… what the hell? Got this casting call passed along to me for an indie film called It’s Gawd!, described as an irreverent comedy about what happens when the almighty gets his own television show.


One of the parts in question is a character called Lucy, “a mutant human/angel hybrid who speaks broken English with a strong Asian accent.” But she apparently isn’t Asian, so the part is open to actors of all ethnicities… except Asians. Wait, what?

Yeah, I don’t get it either. Here’s the full breakdown:

IT’S GAWD!
Feature Film
Wow and Flutter Post / Wow and Flutter Media
SAG-AFTRA (SAG terms) – Pending
Producer: Ryan Rees, Gerald Brunskill
Director: Gerald Brunskill
Casting Director: Jennifer Birn
Interview Dates: 6/17-6/20
Callback Dates:
Shoot/Start Date: 7/11/13
Pay Rate: SAG-AFTRA MLB
Location: Los Angeles area
SUBMIT ELECTRONICALLY
IF POSSIBLE, PLEASE SUBMIT ACTOR’S ONLINE DEMO CLIPS ALONG WITH EACH
ACTOR SUBMISSION.
Currently casting ONLY these two roles:

[LUCY] Mid 20s. Funny, quirky, and cute. Shorter is better! Lucy is a mutant human/angel hybrid who speaks broken English with a strong Asian accent. She is not Asian in appearance so all ethnicities (except Asian) are welcome. Childlike and innocent yet has a sharp tongue that can appear harsh at times. Very facially expressive.

[BUDDHALICIOUS / BRAWD] 20s-30s age not as important as ability to be “bigger than life in every way.’ All ethnicities welcome. Must be a plus-size female who is bigger than life in every way. Uninhibited by her size. Funny and loud. Speaks urban slang and although appears to be a cliched stereotype she is actually a wise, all-knowing being.

LOGLINE: Desperate to save the world (and his job), the creator of Earth journeys to the planet to reconnect with mankind — via a nightly variety show.

“Buddhalicious” sounds like a laugh riot too. This does not sound good. Damn, are you telling me that Asian actors don’t even get to do the fake accent anymore? We used to run that. So unfair — us Asians never get to play the mutant human/angel hybrid thing. (Thanks, J.)

Issa Rae, Jaleel White tapped for Hansberry biopic

If you are among the folks not feeling Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone, perhaps you’ll dig the High Priestess of Soul as awkward black girl. Shadow & Act reports that a biopic about the legendary author of A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry, is in the works, featuring none other than Awkward Girl creator Issa Rae as longtime Hansberry friend, Simone, and Jaleel White as James Baldwin. Billed as a nontraditional biography, the film is being developed by Hansberry’s grand-niece, Taye Hansberry, and Numa Perrier, and cast by Will Stewart, casting director for Scandal.

Above: Nina Simone sings “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” her 1970 song in memory of Hansberry, whose posthumous play by the same name debuted in the late 1960s.

Amitabh Bachchan In The Great Gatsby: Is Desi The New Jewish?

By Margaret Redlich

Image via India Today.

When I studied The Great Gatsby in college, we spent an entire class period on the character of Meyer Wolsheim–.  From the multiple descriptions of his oversize nose and atrocious dialect (“gonnegtions”), it only took five minutes for the class to determine he was supposed to be Jewish, and someone involved was terribly racist.  The question then became, was the racism from the author, Fitzgerald, or the narrator, Nick Carroway?  An added complication, if Gatsby was conceived by the author as Jewish, but not known to be Jewish by Carroway, does that mean that Fitzgerald was not racist? Or at least less racist?  With five minutes left in the class period, one of my classmates said that she had an uncle named “Gatz” (Gatsby’s birth name) and he was Jewish, so the class voted for Gatsby as Jewish and thus the narrator as the racist.

In the recent film, director Baz Lurhmann leaves Gatsby’s origins open to interpretation.  The character of Meyer Wolfsheim is still presented as Jewish, but only in name.  The dialect is softened and Carroway’s voice over narration is not included in this scene.  Luhrman also makes an effort to soften elements of the character’s appearance and personality; instead of two molars used as cufflinks and discussed in detail, Wolfsheim has one used as a tie pin, which is only mentioned in passing. As to the reaction of other characters to Wolfsheim: in the novel Gatsby is happy to see him leave; In the film, he is happy to see him arrive.  These are easily understandable alterations, necessary to make the scene palatable to a modern audience.  Less easy to understand? Luhrmann’s decision to cast a Desi actor to play the role.  Even stranger, Amitabh Bachchan, after 40 years of Indian superstardom, decided to make The Great Gatsby his American debut.

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Will Best Man Holiday Usher In A New Golden Era Of Black Rom-coms?

::Puts on black-lady-of-a-certain-age hat::

You kids today don’t even know. Those of us who were 20-something in the 90s enjoyed the golden age of the black rom-com. If Larenz Tate standing in the rain on the Southside of Chicago telling Nia Long, “Let me tell you somethin’. This here, right now, at this very moment, is all that matters to me. I love you. That’s urgent like a motherfucker”, didn’t make you feel all the feels…then I ain’t got nothing to say to you. (And, yes, I know the movie’s feminist politic was verrrrrry sketchy.) Of course, if Love Jones is the Citizen Kane of black romantic comedy, The Best Man is at least, like, The Maltese Falcon or something. It’s a classic. And it’s back.

Behold, the trailer for Best Man Holiday, coming to a theater near you on Nov. 15. Man, this takes me back. Remember when Morris Chestnut was the shit and not a minor character on An American Horror Story? Remember when we were blissfully unaware of Terrance Howard’s baby wipes obsession?

I also need to know when and how Nia Long made a pact with the devil. ‘Cause girlfriend is as fine as she was in…every black romantic comedy ever made, and seemingly ageless. Nia, call me. A fellow 40-something needs the 411 on your skincare regimen.