7 items from 2014
Bradford Young’s work on Ava DuVernay’s civil rights biopic Selma and Jc Chandor’s A Most Violent Year landed him on Hollywood’s radar this Oscar season, but it also illuminates the diversity lacking year after year within the film industry and the Academy that represents it. Critics and DuVernay have praised Young’s aptitude for lensing African-American faces onscreen as beautifully as he does in Selma, a film about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s private and public struggles to turn the tide of the voting rights movement. “I’m never satisfied with the way I see my people photographed in movies,” Young confessed to me over the phone before the holidays. “I think it comes from a lack of consciousness – if you grew up in a community where you don’t know black people, I wouldn’t suspect you would photograph them in a concerned way.”
- Jen Yamato
Cinematographers Arthur Jafa ("Daughters of the Dust," "Crooklyn," "Dreams Are Colder Than Death," "Florida Water") and Malik Sayeed ("He Got Game," "Belly") have partnered with Baltimore based curator, lecturer and exhibition designer Elissa Blount-Moorhead, to create a new independent film studio and production company, Tneg. The goal, according, to Ms. Blount-Moorhead, is to develop and produce new black independent films, but films that will also “push what we understand to be new black cinema and to create not just new narratives and but also new aesthetics and technical parameters within black cinema." And »
Opening Night – World Premiere
David Fincher, USA, 2014, Dcp, 150m
David Fincher’s film version of Gillian Flynn’s phenomenally successful best seller (adapted by the author) is one wild cinematic ride, a perfectly cast and intensely compressed portrait of a recession-era marriage contained within a devastating depiction of celebrity/media culture, shifting gears as smoothly as a Maserati 250F. Ben Affleck is Nick Dunne, whose wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing on the day of their fifth anniversary. Neil Patrick Harris is Amy’s old boyfriend Desi, Carrie Coon (who played Honey in Tracy Letts’s acclaimed production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) is Nick’s sister Margo, Kim Dickens (Treme, Friday Night Lights) is Detective Rhonda Boney, and Tyler Perry is Nick’s superstar lawyer Tanner Bolt. At once a grand panoramic vision of middle America, a uniquely disturbing exploration of the fault lines in a marriage, »
The fall festival lineup keeps growing and growing. This morning Tiff beefed up their slate, and now the New York Film Festival is highlighting the titles in their documentary section. And they've got a lot of familiar faces. So, who's unspooling new films? How about Martin Scorsese ("The 50-Year Argument"), Joshua Oppenheimer ("The Look Of Silence"), Albert Maysles ("Iris"), Frederick Wiseman ("National Gallery") and more. It doesn't get much better than that these days in the doc world, and it's hard to argue with a slate heavy on veterans of the genre. The New York Film Festival runs September 26th to October 12th. Dreams Are Colder Than Death (NY Premiere) Arthur Jafa, USA, 2013, Dcp, 52m In this new essay film, filmmaker and cinematographer Arthur Jafa (Daughters of the Dust, Crooklyn) begins with a question: what does it mean to be black in America in the 21st century? He composes the many troubled and troubling answers, »
- Kevin Jagernauth
The Los Angeles Film Festival, presented by Film Independent, announced its official 2014 Us and international selections this afternoon, and a title that immediately got my attention as I skimmed the lineup list is a collaboration between Arthur Jafa and Kahlil Joseph tiled Dreams are Colder than Death, which will be making its World Premiere at the festival, in the La Muse (11) section, curated by Film Independent at Lacma curator Elvis Mitchell and artist/scholar Roya Rastegar (Arthur Jafa being the visual artist, intellectual and cinematographer who shot Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust, as well as Spike Lee's Crooklyn and John »
- Tambay A. Obenson
Last week, Oprah Winfrey missed out on a second potential Oscar nomination, and with it, the chance of becoming the oldest African American actress ever to win an Academy Award (the current oldest was also the first - Hatty McDaniel at the tender age of 44). No black women over 50 have ever been nominated for Best Actress, and only two have been honored in the supporting category. Given that Ruby Dee’s 2007 nomination was for a 6-minute role in “American Gangster”, and the only other previous nominee is Ethel Waters in 1949, it’s fair to say that it is not a demographic that has much history of registering with Oscar voters. Not that the Oscars are the be-all and end-all, but they are certainly a useful gauge for the quality of substantial mainstream film roles available to American actresses. Cast the net wider, and a similarly bleak picture emerges. Cora Lee Day »
- Matthew Hammett Knott
Gong for 12 Years a Slave nominee would follow year of real progress, but history shows such breakthroughs are illusive
Steve McQueen may not be the favourite to win the Oscar for best director when the statuettes are handed out on 2 March, but if he does it will represent a historic breakthrough for black film-makers: none has ever been honoured in this category and only two others have even been nominated – John Singleton in 1992 for Boyz n the Hood and Lee Daniels in 2009 for Precious.
The claims of Alfonso Cuarón, director of space-walk thriller notwithstanding, we may witness a moment equal to that of Kathryn Bigelow's, when in 2009 she became the first woman to win the best director Oscar for The Hurt Locker (defeating Daniels as she did so).
McQueen's prominence arrives on the back of a year that saw real progress for black film-makers, particularly in the Us.
- Andrew Pulver, Ashley Cowburn
7 items from 2014
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