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Dear White People (2014)

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The lives of four black students at an Ivy League college.


Justin Simien


Justin Simien (screenplay)
14 wins & 27 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Tyler James Williams ... Lionel Higgins
Tessa Thompson ... Samantha White
Kyle Gallner ... Kurt Fletcher
Teyonah Parris ... Colandrea 'Coco' Conners
Brandon P Bell ... Troy Fairbanks
Brittany Curran ... Sofia Fletcher
Justin Dobies ... Gabe
Marque Richardson ... Reggie
Malcolm Barrett ... Helmut West
Dennis Haysbert ... Dean Fairbanks
Peter Syvertsen ... President Fletcher
Brandon Alter ... George
Kate Gaulke ... Annie (as Katie Gaulke)
Brian James Brian James ... Martin
Keith Myers ... Mitch


A social satire that follows the stories of four black students at an Ivy League college where controversy breaks out over a popular but offensive black-face party thrown by white students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in acutely-not-post-racial America while weaving a universal story of forging one's unique path in the world. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A satire about being a black face in a white place


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, sexual content and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official site





Release Date:

4 December 2014 (Brazil) See more »

Also Known As:

Cara Gente Branca See more »

Filming Locations:

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$347,959, 17 October 2014, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,404,154, 25 January 2015
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


Sam's essay about racism in the film Gremlins is a reference to Patricia A Turner's book "Ceramic Uncles and Celluloid Mammies". The book analyses depictions of blacks in American culture, and the film Gremlins is analyzed. See more »


When Sam is in the dining hall and chastises Kurt for eating in their dining hall - just before she stands up; she closes her Macbook twice. See more »


Gabe: [Gabe and Sam are locked in Sam's room arguing] I'm sorry if I can't be your Nubian Prince on my black horse ready to take you back to fucking Zamunda.
Sam White: That's not a real African country.
Gabe: Can I at least get a little credit for a solid 'Coming to America' reference? This isn't you Sam.
Sam White: No? And who am I?
Gabe: You're this girl...
Sam White: Perceptive...
Gabe: Who likes to argue with me about *every fucking thing.* And I hate it because we both know you're smarter than me. Your favorite director is Bergman. But you tell ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits include photographs of the real-life blackface (and brownface) college parties that inspired the film's climax. See more »


Spoofs The Birth of a Nation (1915) See more »


Swan Lake
Composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (as Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky)
Courtesy of KPM APM
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User Reviews

Wasted potential
19 January 2015 | by mikehonorama-217-940260See all my reviews

Justin Simien's directorial debut should be lauded for its ambition, but as both a director and screenwriter, he has a long ways to go. An attractive cast of varying ability is saddled with an overstuffed script that has unnecessary subplots and diversions (while still having a convenient economy of characters), leaving a movie that lurches around from plot point to plot point, with some areas of that plot being underdeveloped and unconvincing.

Meanwhile, Simien the director is all over clever visuals and storytelling devices, yet he has a hard time dealing with various tones of the movie. More importantly, the pace of the film is leaden, which sucks the life out of some of the potentially humorous situations, while making some of the social commentary come off as more strident than need be. A lot of scenes feature awkward staging, with some actors seeming to not know what to do as a scene winds down.

The result is a movie with more than its fair share of nice moments and some winning performances, with almost no cohesion whatsoever. This is a shame, as Simien makes some good points throughout the movie on the state of race relations in America.

Roger Ebert noted that it's not necessarily what a movie is about, but how it is about it. The high praise for this movie represents the flip side of this notion, as it's getting plaudits for what it's about rather than its execution.

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