Thursday, September 18, 2008

BGs & the Big Screen

Ever wonder why movies like, Love Jones, The Best Man, Brown Sugar and other similar films are rarely found in theaters? Well, the answer is complex and is often a result of racism, but there are a couple of obvious ways that we can reverse this disparity so that our stories are shown on the big screen too.

Last Friday, I attended an interesting panel discussion about the state of black women in Hollywood hosted by Essence during the Urbanworld Film Festival here in NYC. The panel consisted of famed TV producer Suzanne de Passe (Zane: The Sex Chronicles, Sister, Sister, etc.), director/writer Gina Prince-Bythewood (Secret Life of Bees, Love & Basketball, etc.), actress Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) and SVP, Production for Fox Searchlight Zola Mashariki (Notorious B.I.G). They spoke about the difficulties of breaking into the world of film for African-Americans, particularly African-American women, as well as solutions that could possibly make a difference.


From left, Suzanne De Passe, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Sophie Okonedo.

According to these esteemed panelists, the following two actions can help us get quality movies that we want to see in the theaters:

*Stop buying boot-legged DVDs!!
*Support films that star a predominately ethnic cast during the opening weekend!!




So go out and see the Secret Life of Bees starring, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys when it comes out in theaters on October 17th. Click here to view the trailer.

If we support films featuring us BGs and guys, perhaps more will be made for all of us to enjoy!

What is your favorite film starring an African-American cast? What are your thoughts on this subject? Are you guilty of partaking in movie piracy? Come on, BGG won't tell on you! :-)

35 comments:

Calming Corners said...

There are so many film's that I like. Brown Sugar is one and another one I really like is cappuccino. No I have never bought a bootleg.

K-Bear said...

I will not admit to buying bootleg DVDs but I will say that I'm sorry :-( Anyway, from now on I do hereby promise to go see movies featuring black folks during the first week. I typically wait a week or so for the hype to die down. I absolutely hate sitting in a crowded theater with people who laugh too loud and for too long. Those same people refuse to turn their cell phones off! BUT if it means helping the cause, I will do what I have to do. And if that dude approaches me at the beauty shop with all the latest flicks, I will Just Say No!

Mel said...

I Definitely don't buy the bootlegs girl! But I am often guilty of waiting until some of these get to DVD status. I will have to work on that.

12kyle said...

I don't buy bootlegs b/c I hate watching the 2nd hand stuff. If I don't see it in the theater, then I'll wait. However...i do get some music via "secondary marketing." lol

Brown Sugar
Love and Basketball
New Jack City
Boyz N Tha Hood
Meanace II Society
Love Jones
the list goes on and on...

good post

rmcandlelight said...

I never buy bootleg movies and never will. I also like the movies Brown Sugar & Love and basketball. Just saw the new Tyler Perry movie was very good. Can't wait to see Secret Life of Bees.

kitty vodka said...

everyone should ABSOLUTELY Stop buying boot-legged DVDs!!! it is the worst thing for everyone. along with the knock off bags...
one of my favs is The Wood with the oh so awesome Taye Diggs, and agreeing with 12kyle, Love & Basketball, i watched many many times.

MakeupByRenRen said...

wow that sounds like a really interested panel...i really dont buy bootlegs...but i dont buy dvds in general, lol...my girls and I usually see movies with ethnically dominated casts the same weekend they come out because they're a rarity now a days....thanks for sharing the info!

Brown Girl Gumbo said...

Sorry guys, for some reason, my hyperlink to the trailer isn't working. UGH!!

Nerd Girl said...

Love Jones is one of my favorites. I don't buy bootlegs.

The fact that black movies aren't given a chance beyond opening weekend really kills me. We can't always go see a movie the day/weekend it opens. I know they're in the biz to make money, but still. There are times I've wanted to see a movie and it is gone BEFORE the second weekend of it's release, and that's just ridiculous. Especially since the crappy (IMHO) movies like Big Mama's House - or whatever, work with me - stay around forever.

Patrice said...

I've never purchased nor watched Bootleg DVDs and don't plan to. Some of my favorite movies are:

Set it Off
Kingdom Come
Love and Basketball

Ashley-Nicole said...

I love so many films featuring an all black cast: Stompin' At The Savoy, Brown Sugar, Something New, Deliver Us From Eva, Soul Food, Crooklyn, School Daze, etc. I do think that it is up to black screenwriters/film-makers to make more movies (and better roles) for black women. No Comment on Bootlegging LOL

Ondo Lady said...

That film looks really good but knowing our luck it won't probably won't hit the UK till ten years time, if at all. I buy bootleg DVDs - what was the rationale behind not buying them? Calming Corners - what is Cappuccino about?

Brown Girl Gumbo said...

@Ondo Lady - Well, the rationale behind buying bootlegged DVDs is that people in turn don't go to the theaters to see the movie, which hurts the box office.

Hollywood decision makers are all about the bottom line...if it doesn't make money, chances are another similar film will never see the light of day.

T said...

I don't watch bootlegged movies, but I also don't get to the theater on the first weekend like I should (unless it's a Will Smith flick... LOVE HIM!)

I will make it a point to go see that secret life of bees movies the first weekend though.

K-Bear said...

12Kyle, you haven't seen the latest bootleg DVDs apparently. They are high tech now...no more people walking around and talking, it's just like watching the real deal...I've heard...cause I don't buy them remember....anyway :-(

antithesis said...

i dont buy bootlegs and i TRY to support black films that look good. im excited about the secret life of bees. i'm all late and just read the book earlier. this year.

Tammy said...

1. I LOVE Zane..she is phenomenal.
2. My favorite movie is Love & Basketball. Anything by Tyler Perry I LOVE, just saw the Family that Prays Together--great movie!!!
3. I have never bought a bootleg movie myself, but I have seen some. =(

Product Junkie Diva said...

Love this post. Yes, we need to support our films during opening weekend. I just saw Tyler Perry's new film on Friday when it opened and it was GREAT. My favorite BG movie may be love & Basketball, or brown Sugar..there are others too.
Oh the Last Dragon..lol
PJD

Leslie C. said...

My favorite films are The Best Man, Boomerang, Coming To America, The Brothers, Waiting to Exhale and Something New. I've never bought a bootleg video. I've heard the quality is not very good and I prefer the whole movie theater experience. Plus it robs the filmmakers of money that is owed to them and gives the studios who make these movies that no one is seeing them.

Leslie C. said...

Edit: watching bootleg movies gives the studios the impression that no one is going to see them.

kay* said...

I'll admit i have watched boot leg movies (not just african-american ones...) but i haven't bought one myself - though i know people who have. I definitely am a supporter of african-american films - especially during opening weekend. Me and my sis and friends always head out to show support. I have so many films i love but i would have to say:
-Set it Off
-Boyz N Tha Hood
-Meanace II Society
-Juice
...are among my favourites. i love anything with nia long, sanaa lathan, gabrielle union...my sister watches love and basketball at least twice a month i'd say!

Brown Girl Gumbo said...

@Everyone - Since I asked you guys, let me say that I have NEVER purchased a bootlegged DVD either! Just my two cents! :-)

slacker chic said...

First of all, I cannot WAIT to see The Secret Life of Bees. My mother got me that book a few years back (she always knows just what I'll love!) and I couldn't put it down. I think the casting is very good for the characters in the book.
In regards to there not being enough ethnic actors in movies, I definetely agree. Although I think it is worse on television. I was talking about this just the other day with my husband. I was like How is it that the hispanic population is so prominent in the U.S., yet The George Lopez Show was the first one ever to represent a hispanic family? And Margaret Cho's All AMerican Girl, that was and still is the only show ever featuring an Asian family. I mean, what's that all about? Talk about an inaccurate, unbalanced portrayl of the U.S. population.

SolShine7 said...

As an aspiring screenwriter this is an issue I think about quite often. There are so few big-name women filmmmakers in the business, let alone BG filmmakers, that have real producing power it's rather saddening. But I don't let that stop me. Right now is an amazing time for DIY and indie filmmakers because of the digital revolution and social network sites that let you connect directly with your desired niche audience.

Gina Prince-Bythewood is definitely one of my favorite directors because Love & Basketball was amazing! I'm also grateful for Suzanne de Passe's trailblazing work in the industry.

Some of my other favorite black films are Boomerang, Pursuit of Happiness, all Tyler Perry's movies (except Meet the Browns), Strictly Business (old school Halle Berry) and Something New.

But I'd really like to see more quirky character-driven stories produced. Artsy stuff along the lines of Garden State. That's the kind of stuff I write.

Anyhow, great post!!!

mimieyes said...

In my recent trip to Vietnam I bought few bootleg movies and to this day I feel very guilty. But it was hard to refuse 10 dvds for $5 dollars. However, most of them were foreign movies. As per what movies I like or have made a big impression on me. The most recent is the "The Great Debaters" I find this movie very powerful because it teaches us the power of standing up for our rights and believes. My other favorites of course are more personal Jungle Fever, Do The Right Thing, She's Gotta Have it and How Stella got Her Grove Back.
n my recent trip to Vietnam I bought few bootleg movies and to this day I feel very guilty. But it was hard to refuse 10 dvds for $5 dollars. However, most of them were foreign movies. As per what movies I like or have made a big impression on me. The most recent is the "The Great Debaters" I find this movie very powerful because it teaches us the power of standing up for our rights and believes. My other favorites of course are more personal Jungle Fever, Do The Right Thing, She's Gotta Have it and How Stella got Her Grove Back.

Rich said...

I noticed how film makers like Spike Lee have had to move more toward main stream films in order to get the money - despite having experienced major success at the box office. Brown folks have to hump for it no matter what. That is unless you make moves like Tyler and amass a built in following. The big execs can see the money in that all day long.

PCD (Pretty Circle Drawer) said...

no bootlegs. i like the experience of being in the theater. i love so many black movies and will be right there to see the secret life of bees. i always do opening weekend.

that guy said...

Boyz N Tha Hood & Meanace II Society are two great movies

that guy said...

bootleg movies sucks!!!

Sherita said...

I hate bootleg DVDs!!! I love the Tyler Perry movies. I like that he his main cast members are african american, with the exception of his last movie. I have a friend, who's brown by the way, that will not watch movies with predominantly african american cast members and that really bothers me. In order for us to get ahead, we have to start supporting each other!

MeMe said...

My absolute favorite all black cast movie is Eve's Bayou. Great story line and EXCELLENT cast!!!

Btw, I never buy bootleg dvd's...but I do own one or two bootlegged cd's.

lymariposa said...

I bow my head in shame when I say that I have given my money over to the bootleggers. everyone can boo me now. I don't usually watch any movie on opening week because I like to avoid the long lines and crowds but I might have to suck it up and help the cause.
As for movies that I love, I would have to say... The Color Purple, Do the Right Thing and Dreamgirls.

Dominican Enigma said...

ok, so when I was a teen, yes I did buy bootleggs. I don't know why though, they were the worst quality ever. You could hear people sneezing and see them walking by the camera. But now the bootlegs are so much better (atleast that's what I hear). lol

Soul said...

Stop buying bootleg, support the arts!!

Miss Anjela said...

Man, there are so many...the ones you mentioned and then there's Soul Foul...but I think my favorite ones are Brown Sugar, Love Jones and Love and Basketball. Yeah, I've bought some bootlegs but they weren't Black movies...I mostly buy DVDs on sale. I would love to go and support every Black movie but money is kind of tight right now!