Black Lives Matter

What Constitutes as “Black Film”? …Your Opinion?

Once upon a time… back in the early 70’s to be exact…

There was this group of black independent filmmakers attending UCLA. They were members of an organization known as the Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers. Three of the most notable filmmakers in this group were:

  •  Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust);
  • Charles Barnett [born in Vicksburg, MS] (Killer of Sheep);
  • Haile Gerima [a professor at Howard whom I will be taking next semester](Bush Mama).

These filmmakers basically decided to take the traditional way of being taught film, and look at it on a whole new level and perspective. They wanted the black culture to be respectively represented from their vision and experiences, and their representation of hope and struggle. In a nutshell, their idea of “black film” is a self-expression that comes from history and real-life experiences, rather than what the public eye “thinks” or “expects” is the black culture & race.

They went on to develop a particular film language and explore experiences relating to the black community and felt that these experiences would exemplify the accurate representation of black existence of family and culture in our history and present day realities.

So how did they exemplify a productive black cinema?

They resisted the normal, degrading depictions of black characters.

And this began The Black Independent Cinema Movement.

What is your idea/opinion on what constitutes “black film”?

Are Tyler Perry films conducive to these standards? Are they being made just for pleasure purposes for the mainstream audience?

Successful it was, but how do you feel about Steven Spielberg directing The Color Purple? [he’s not a Southerner, he had no background in black cultural experience…]

Think back to the movie Hancock, Will Smith played a super hero; and not knocking the writers, but did he HAVE to be an alcoholic as well?

Gives you something to think about, eh?


Bambara, Tony Cade. Reading the Signs, Empowering the Eye: Daughters of the Dust and the Black Independent Cinema Movement. “Deep Sightings and Rescue Missions”

Diawara, Manthia. Black Spectatorship: Problems of Identification and Resistance. “Screen”. (1988). 29(4): 66-79.

The dream is real my friends. The failure to realize it, is the only unreality.

Tony Cade Bambara


  1. Ok lets start with Steven Speilberg directing “The Color Purple”. I believe it’s the duty of the director to understand every aspect of the project that he/she is working on. Saying that, Speilberg was smarth enough to understand the emotions of the character rather than focus on race. Even though race plays a factor in that movie African-Americans don’t see the psychological effect that movie displays. i.e. Domestic Abuse, incest. But he also captured powerful emotions dealing with love and happiness.

    As far as Hancock that movie was a story of redemption. i rather Will Smith play an alcoholic than a herion addict.

    Tyler Perry… comment.

    What makes a black movie? thats a good question. What makes a White movie or a Hispanic Movie? Who are we to label someone’s idea according to cast. When you read a script and its only black and white staring at you do you think, “Hey! i this is a blackmovie!”?

  2. LOL, why did I have this feeling that you would be first to comment!

    But I do agree… however, my final research paper for one of my classes, is to figure out the answers to this question! And I’m currently trying to sort it all out, but it gets complicated.

    And one thing that we discussed was that, just because it’s a majority, or all-black cast, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a “black film”… Lol, confusing huh?

    lol, wish me luck.

    Thanks for the opinions Greg!

  3. Portraying Will Smith as an alcholic I think had no relavance in the movie Hancock. Think about it…would to movie had recieved the same reviews, criticsm, and ticket sells if he wasn’t played as an alcholic hero. I THINK SO! Before you mention that Charli I totally forget Hancock was an alcholic LOL. Maybe cause it didn’t make any since or I just dislike the movie all together. But I’m really not a film critic and have a hard time judging films. As far as Steven directing The Color Purple, I thought it was a great movie and I think he did an excellent job in capturing emotions in such grave detail that we all as African Americans can relate to.

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