What does the future of Black cinema look like?

According to the New York Times, this year is a break-through year for black films. “At least 10 new films will be released, including several awards contenders, from both independent and major distributors, like the Weinstein Company, Fox Searchlight and Universal Pictures.”

Last year Hollywood’s principal companies released only one prominent film from a black director with a black cast, “Sparkle,” from Sony Pictures and the filmmaker Salim Akil, in the July-to-December stretch. (…) But a substantial new wave will arrive on July 3 with Lionsgate’s release of a documentary, “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain,” from two black directors, Leslie Small and Tim Story. Other films include “Fruitvale Station,” directed by Ryan Coogler, in July; “The Butler,” by Mr. Daniels, and Mr. Talbert’s “Baggage Claim,” in August; and “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas,” from Lionsgate, on Dec. 13.

Black filmmakers say the wave of 2013 releases was built in large part on the creativity that has flourished on the independent-film circuit, which has become a laboratory of sorts for more prominent African-American-themed productions.

Studio executives also say there is a growing audience with more multicultural tastes that gives these films a broader appeal. “There’s a genre audience out there, but it’s no longer quite so segregated,” said Stephen Gilula, a president of Fox Searchlight. African-American-themed films, when they do find mainstream distributors, are often playing at more theaters in more cities than in the past, Mr. Gilula said.

Not everyone is so optimistic however, Tambay A. Obeson from Shadow & Act – a site that covers any actuality linked to black cinema (from the US and abroad), calls this a ” once-every-decade occurrence, when more black films backed by studios (as well as a few indies) enter the marketplace. ” “As someone who’s on the front-lines, the view hasn’t changed all that much. One so-called “breakout year” is just that.”

The comments following his post are also interesting:

“Black Cinema is changing not because Hollywood decided to do the right thing but technology. (…) Hollywood knows the writing is on the wall of them shutting out black films or any films of people of color. They have no choice but to start being inclusive or they going to go out of business or they profit margin is going to take a sharp decline.”

There isn’t a shortage of black stories or subjects, but how fast will Hollywood embrace them, or will the change keep coming through a group of motivated individuals, like Ava Du Vernay – founder of the AFFRM distribution company, first black woman to win best director at Sundance-, Shonda Rhimes – one of the most influential persons in television- or Issa Rae – the maverick one-woman orchestra behind web series hit “Awkward Black Girl“?

 

 

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