While others are apparently hanging the future of black cinema on upcoming mega-budgeted blockbusters like George Lucas' Red Tails (out next January), and Quentin Tarantino's
Inglorious Black Basterds… uhh… sorry… wrong movie… I meant, Django Unchained, I'm much more interested in the successes of 2 far less expensive upcoming films with stories centered on the experiences of black people across the diaspora – Alrick Brown's Kinyarwanda (AFFRM's second release, in theaters beginning December 2nd), and Dee Rees' Pariah (to be released by Focus Features on December 28th).
I should say that I'm certainly not placing that particular burden (black cinema's future) on those 2 films. After all, they're just 2 films, and it'll be unfair to both the films and the filmmakers.
However, your support of them is crucial – arguably even more-so than your support of Red Tails and Django Unchained. The revolution starts from the bottom, with us; with the indies, where you're likely to see far more rich, complex and varied representations of the so-called *black experience* globally; the revolution won't start with the studio pictures.
This is present-day independent black cinema at its highest level, as so few actually receive the kind of attention both of these indie films already have, and will continue to reeceive, leading up to their theatrical releases, and even quite possibly long thereafter, with an Oscar campaign already in full swing for Pariah.
These are the films we should be discussing and debating as unrelentingly as we have the other 2; and if you're not already familiar with either, you really should become familiar.
During the black cinema townhall meeting I participated in over the weekend (organized by Warrington Hudlin), Dr Sheril D. Antonio, the Associate Dean for Film, Television, and New Media in the Kanbar Institute of Film & Television and the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, said she was ready to "occupy theaters" in response to quesitons posed about black cinema's future. In short, the implication there was that she would support (financially, at a minimum) those films that she sees value in, speaking with her dollars, turning the conversation into action – something I've long encouraged here on S&A since its humble beginnings.
I'd like to appropriate Dean Antonio's personal call to action and insist that we all "occupy theaters" next month, when both Kinyarwanda and Pariah are released. So, from here on, and through each film's release in December, whenever I mention either film in a post, on Twitter, Facebook, etc, I'll include either or both of these hashtags: #OccupyTheatersKinyarwanda and #OccupyTheatersPariah.
Let's see if we can get enough folks using each hashtag in mentions of both films, especially on Twitter.
The rules aren't strict; feel free to co-opt and come up with your method of recognition; but let's try to keep the hashtag consistent.
Got it? Good! Now go do me proud :)