“Black Filmmakers Are (Or Should Be) Obligated To Tell Stories Primarily About Black People” (Discuss)

"Black Filmmakers Are (Or Should Be) Obligated To Tell Stories Primarily About Black People" (Discuss)

Slow news day, so how about a survey? :)

Revisiting a question I last asked in 2010, when the site wasn’t as much of a draw as it is today, 2 years later…

Here’s a conversation I had in the past with a frustrated black filmmaker friend… I’m paraphrasing here, but the gist of it is clear enough:

HIM: “I’m done! My next project, I’m casting white folks.

Silence. Not sure if he’s just messing around, only to realize that he’s dead serious.

ME: “Why?

HIM: “They’re more… umm… ‘accessible.’

Followed by a devilish grin.

HIM: “For real; Gotta do what we gotta do to make it.

I asked him to explain what he meant by “accessible,” knowing what he likely did mean, but needed clarification; in a nutshell, revealing what I think most of us already know, and have been fighting against for decades… the notion that films with predominantly Caucasian-starring casts seem to generally have a better shot at being financed, and widely seen, than films that center around the lives of people from any other so-called “minority” group; unless your film, with an overwhelmingly black cast, fits a familiar or proven mold.

I’d like to read what the rest of you think.

In the context of this blog, are black filmmakers (or SHOULD black filmmakers be), first and foremost, obligated to tell stories primarily about black people, given the dearth of people of African descent on our TV and theater screens? Is that a fair expectation of them? And I’m really curious if the thinking of my friend in the conversation above is common among many of you black filmmakers reading this – essentially, that a lot of you are indeed frustrated with the state of things, and are feeling pressured into rethinking how you write/cast your projects, influenced by what you see are your odds at success being somewhat dependent on the skin color of the characters in your films?

I should also toss in August Wilson’s argument that he only wanted black directors to direct film adaptations of his plays, as another angle to consider in this conversation.

So put all that in a pot, stir it, and let it cook.

Discuss…

This Article is related to: Features


Comments

KDW

I understand where your friend is coming from a bit. When I think of "Black" film creators I get restless, same with "Black" singers, and "Black" Authors, and "Black" Artists etc. Notice how I said Black on everything. This is why I avoid supporting "Black" creations. Because we never do anything new! everything we create has black in it! or colored. It's either a comedy or hood drama or slave movie or about our struggles or recreated "White" films using "Black" actors. Why is it so hard for black creators to move out of that box? Another reason, your friend probably wanted to cast white people, may had something to do with them not being afraid to do any type of movie. I honestly think some black people refuse to do certain things if it's not black enough. There are so many genres that "Black" creators can explore yet they choose to limit themselves, due to the idea of "Blackness." or having to prove how much you love being "Black" I don't understand it.

Brendon

Interesting comments here. I am a white filmmaker, but spent the last 4 years making a Civil Rights picture with dozens of black extras and actors. While it was slightly more difficult to get black actors to commit, many willingly volunteered their time, over the course of several years. They were no less dedicated than any white actors who worked on the production.

I agree with those who have said to "make whatever you want". Your passions should inform your direction. Not industry stigma, difficulty, or anything else. After all, when the going gets tough (and it always does), true passion is all that will keep you afloat.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1435689058/the-red-cape

jeff

I disagree I'm black trying to raise funds to shoot a teaser trailer to a post apocalyptic science fiction film/comic I have been working on for some time yes I am into dramas and urban tales but I feel that it is a over saturated market within the black community filmmaker trying to get help to fund a project I wanted you to check out the project and let me know what you think, http://www.indiegogo.com/doi
Hello this is my science fiction story I have been working on for quiet some time now. I am raising money to finish the comic and to also producer a teaser trailer for the film as a project to pitch to movie studios. If anyone can help spread the word about this project and make any amount of donation it is much appreciated.

The Story
The alien race known as the Eons initially came to Earth in the year 2000 offering peace to the people of the planet, because humans were a primitive race destroying themselves. The world's leaders feared what they did not understand and attacked the Eons. War lasted for a decade. The Eons captured seven human hosts which they experimented on for 3 years. Only 3 survived: Jeff, John, and Kate. They have awoken from a cryosleep in the year 2112 A.I., where they must learn to adapt to a new world from the one they remember. But the Eons will make their return…and this time all bets are off.
This book will be its own story as well as an introduction to the world, at 25 pages for the main story. In the future, my plan will definitely be to produce more of these and expand upon this series.

GT

A read of Ralph Ellison's 1949 essay, which inspired the name of this very website, will definitively answer this question once and for all.

JTC

I relate to the idea of making a film with non-black actors, though probably not for the reasons that the person the author spoke with meant. My reason is about finances and integrity. I am a microbudget filmmaker, by the way. When I decided that I wanted to be a writer/director after having been writing (not screenplays) for over 10 years. I took it seriously. I read hundreds of screenplays. Dozens of screenwriting books. Copied the screenplays I liked with the purpose of trying to understand the rhythm of screenwriting excellence. I practiced long and hard before I even felt worthy to try to put something out there. I continue to train myself, something I don't ever expect to stop. I studied my lenses, blocking, cinematic language, watched filmmakers from all over the world to see how different director dealt with a variety of situations. I did more than my due diligence. However, when I moved to LA, with the dream of trying to make some hardcore black films. I found one major hurdle. It was not cinematographers, editors, or ever sound people. It was black actors. I could not find serious black actors willing to jump on board with me. They were either focused on how much they were going to be paid, or they were so inconsistent around the structure and time of my productions that it was impossible to work with the vast majority of them. I worked on many productions during my time in LA and I saw this problem with a large number of our actors. I have lived in two other large cities since then and saw the same thing. Compare this to my experience on working on the productions of other cultures. I saw hunger. I saw a willing to strive for excellence even under the worst of circumstances. I saw these other directors get actors from some of the most prestigious drama programs to work for free because they knew that they were going to have to make those kinds of sacrifices in the beginning of their careers, or even until they worked on a project which could really showcase their talent. They didn't complain about not getting paid, rather, they were exciting at getting the opportunity to work with people who were as focused and driven as them. Last summer, I worked on a film with Latino actors. It was a night and day difference. It was fun for me because they were passionate and enthusiastic to work with me. They only thing we had for them was food, not even the greatest food. But they never complained even though we were filming outside in post 100 degree temps. The vast majority of the black actors I tried to work with, were late for rehearsal, problematic about learning their lines, complained about a variety of things, and generally lacked enthusiasm. I met some extremely talented black writer/director in LA, but unfortunately, many of the issues which impact our culture on the whole, also impact our creative community as well. If you don't look like a director (?), if you don't have the trappings of success (some of the other culture's filmmakers I worked with barely even looked presentable, the ONLY concern that people had was their TALENT) if you don't have the swagger, it is difficult to be taken seriously. However, Steve McQueen was a revelation for me. I was so fixated on making black films that I forgot to focus on excellence and passion. I love and am in love with my people, but art requires something more from the artist. It reminds me of the all the artists who had to go to Europe before they got recognized at home. I am honestly worried about making my next film with black actors because they have burned me so many times. The next film I am trying to make was originally written for four black men. I have been rewriting it to star four men of another race. I have found a group of white actors who are excited to work with me. I wish things were different but I don't know what to tell you.

James N Smith

Cherish said:
>>There is no reason whatsoever that Black people can't have movie theatres that show nothing but our movies and make it a success.<<<

Not from a business stand point. At this point you need "quality" content first and a steady supply of it. Art house cinemas survive barely in cosmopolitan white areas because they enough people who go. I personally don't want black owned theaters if all they are going to show are the latest Tyler Perry movies and Blacploitation films. This is one of those times when unity and solidarity could spelled success, as blacks are not the only ethnic groups getting shut out of films, you have Asian and Latino markets as well as Native Americans who combined might might such a venture practical and successful. I for one would be happy to see anybodies films that are not a continuation of the white ideal.

James N Smith

That's an interesting problem, and I can easily see both sides of it. Filmmaking is expensive no matter how you cut it. Even a Canon 7D is over a grand, don't even get into adequate lens and accessories. I at one time espoused the stance of your friend, but only as a means to an end. Sure, if you can come up with a story like Dark Knight, or Kill Bill and cast the white hero, you can make a ton of cash. The question is what do you do with that cash? The profits from one Avatar, or the Avengers could helm a hundred "black" films, without having to worry about return on investment. There is no denying that, and there is merit to playing the game that way. Also if you're going to make white superman films, at least you can do it without all the subtle anti black subtext.

As it is I don't see any black filmmakers trying to do what your friend suggests, even though I know many have thought about it. What first film by a black filmmakers can you name that didn't feature black themes or characters? I can't think of any, but I'd be curious.

Dun

Nope. Make what ever you want. If you are a political based film maker…do that. If you are history based film maker…do that. Just because you are black shouldn't mean you have to make a "black" movie. What ever that means. That is so stupid and limits creativity.

INTROSPECTIVE MAN

Let's face it: It takes physical might and a lot of money, even at the micro-budget level to make movies.

No one is assured that there movie will earn more than it cost to make, but I think this would be a non-issue if there were more profitable alternative forms of distribution.

Black filmmakers would tell Black stories because there wouldn't be the pressure to get your movie to widest audience possible through the only way possible.

So does dearth of stories about Black people obligate Black filmmakers to tell those stories? I say no, but it's a great reason to tell those stories. How else will we see them?

BEV

Black artists should ABSOLUTELY focus on black stories. We need them to so that we can be shown to be as diverse and interesting as we truly are instead of this stereotypical view that most other races have of us.

Jat

Any artist conforming to what they are obligated (by others) to do rather than expressing themselves from thier heart & soul is not an artist. They are not being true to thier muse; they are not being genuine and they're projects will be of not value to anyone. I agree with part of the title: Black Filmakers Are Obligated to Tell Stories!

Tamara

*dead-horse-beating* An artist should only feel obligated to create art. And even then, there's no real obligation there but a want, a need, a desire to create truth through their artistry. If you want mainstream success/acceptance within the confines (or without if you're lucky) the Hollywood system, then conform and make your work "accessible" to the masses. If you think that is the only way to guarantee creation, then by all means do what you have to do…I guess. Not only do Black people/artists/viewers have a unique point of view; every individual person/artist/viewer has a unique point of view. There should be no "obligation" to anyone or any entity but yourself where concerns your work.

turner

Too much obsession with race here… who's black enough, what's black enough… I'm getting bored already. Damn I wish more of the posts on this site were about the creative process of FILMMAKING than all the racial posturing and bickering.

Nadine

Black Filmmakers should be obligated to always push FORWARD the cause of Civil Rights whatever the genre; not holding it back. If you focus on movies for a predominantly Black audience, those films should not further handicap those people. If you focus on mainstream films, you should transcend White filmmakers (who are handicapped by their White lenses). Make films that truly reflect the environment and demographic of the films setting… (a new York without ridiculous HONORABLE diversity is garbage) not whitewash. Some of the most successful films have that in common, this global perspective not based on tropes, but based on the shared humanity in all people no matter the background. That is what made "The Matrix" so beautiful to me. It would not have been the Matrix with an all White cast, plus a token. Hollywood is lazy and thinks that its audience only wants to see White people onscreen, when it reality, White people will always find that white character to identify with (Fast & Furious) despite the color around them. Black filmmakers have the power to tell stories for the mainstream that are more inclusive and accurate, for all, if Black filmmakers choose to not sell their souls by continuing to perpetuate the White standard (which is FAILING now btw).

Cherish

Yes you are obligated. You're Black. Only we ponder questions like this. When you go to sleep do you just dream of white people? You should have a burning all consuming desire to tell stories of you, who you are, and your people. Only rarely should you consider stories of non-blacks, once in awhile. Damn, we really are a conquered people.

Jeff O

Something else comes to mind. Most white filmmakers… I don't think they consciously make "white" films/shows/etc. They just don't think about race like we (re: black people) do, and their race allows them to do so. The show "Girls" on HBO popped in my head because I read an article recently where the main writer said the show is based on her life, friends, and experiences… so when I hear there are no minority characters I get it because most likely in the world she came up in minorities were not a major part. The same way in the world of Precious there aren't many white folks. Advice I often hear from writers in this industry is to write about what you know… isn't that what we all should be doing? So then isn't the real challenge to know more?

Jeff O

I feel that black filmmakers should tell the stories they want. We all have a unique POV on this crazy world, and that's what I enjoy when I watch movies. In casting, I'd like to see more openness. The most frustrating things to me as an actor is to see breakdowns that say caucasian when a person of any race could play the role or roles that were originally of a different race (i.e. book adaptations) that are changed to caucasian for "wider appeal".

I just want filmmakers to tell the story they want, with the actors (any race) who can best help them achieve that.

biwtican

this would be a fair question if the black writers and directors and artists were not caught up is this colonial training that if white people don't like it the project ain't no good. we have not told the story of black people in this country yet. unless we brake out of this mental slavery all our films and tv shows will based one one of three styles, does not offend whites,makes whites laugh,makes blacks look happy to serve whites. you can't tell the black experience with these restrictions. they should be trying to market their work to other black people around the world. ideas: black soldiers stationed in liberia in ww2,necklacing in south africa,black people who helped the whites during the civil rights movement,u.s. overthrowing govt. in africa, the true story of the hbcu's. with the attitudes of these black artists our future generations will never know the truth of our history. george washington was a kind slave owner? sally hennings loved thomas jefferson?, lincoln freed the slaves?, black people were content and never revolted?, this is in the new films and text books our children suffer through in school now. no wonder they drop out.

FilmGuy

How about Black people focusing on opening up a chain of Black theaters across the country? Ones that value themselves as bringing smart, well-crafted films to a black audience? A black art house cinema that caters to American Black stories and others of the diaspora. Wouldn't that solve this bs?

Adam Scott Thompson

"[U]nless your film, with an overwhelmingly black cast, fits a familiar or proven mold" = What blacks and non-blacks have come to expect after years of Tyler Perry, aka the Prime Minister of Coonistan, and his ilk. We get what we demand — nothing more. I don't want entertainment that shows our "blackness" (whatever that's supposed to be… drinking Kool-Aid, maybe?); I want entertainment that shows our HUMANITY… how we are really not so unlike any other ethnic group at the most basic, primal levels. That's why I fell in love with movies in the first place. Even if I couldn't identity racially with a character, I could identify with their story. "The Godfather" is about Italian gangsters, but it's also about family; so is "Boyz N the Hood," just in a different way — but John Singleton didn't stoop to make his points. I like Issa Rae's "Awkard Black Girl" webseries because while it features elements informed by her race, it's just a bare-bones story about the awkwardness in us all as filtered through the quirky life of a [don't need a racial adjective here] woman who shows her humanity in rather funny ways. The hyperbole that dominates chit'lin theater and its film/TV spawn may indicate the hyperbole we perpetuate within our group in real life — as if confirming stereotypes and marking our experiences as "black", "other" or "not tryin' to follow them" somehow authenticates us. Monkeys rejoice in recognizing their own reflection in a mirror — "Whoopty-doo! There I am!" Humans ponder, "But who is that person reflected in my mirror, truly?"

Xi

I don't think artists are obligated to do anything, but seriously, why wouldn't you want to??? The other question to pose, though, is: what constitutes "black film"? Some may say Scandal is not a "black show" because her race is never a concern. The show is not about a black woman on capitol hill, just a competent woman on capitol hill. Others will say that it is a black show. A) it's based on someone's life and B) that life is a reality for some people… where (not sure how but) race never comes into play. We clearly aren't a monolith and everything doesn't have to be gospel musicals, street stories and fist in the air productions (<—by all means, bring on the fist in the air productions. I'll watch em!) The fact that there are so many facets of our being to explore, should be even more of a reason to want to tell "black stories".

Tae

As a filmmaker, I'm interested in making good films, period. And if that entails an all black cast so be it. But if a white cast is called for because of the STORY that was written, then that's fine too. We as black filmmakers get caught up in the "tell the black story thing" a bit too much. What's wrong with telling the story from the human experience? You can have great stories with an all black cast or a mixed cast or whatever. My next film will feature people of middle eastern descent, that's what the script calls for. Write what you know and feel comfortable with, but you shouldn't pigeonhole yourself by saying I'm only writing stories that tell the black experience. Last time I looked blacks folk dealt with a lot of other races besides black folk. So if filmmakers and writers dealt more diversely it may have a broader effect. And let's be real. If you're talking Hollywood you're talking sbout a machine generated by CASH. If it makes them cash they'll make or green light the film, simple as that. There are plenty of white filmmakers that I know that are struggling right along with their black counterparts, so it's not about a "white film" vs a "black film" it's about what's going to put PEOPLE in the seats. Think Like A Man made a ton of money, but didn't get mentioned in a meeting. SO WHAT! Budget 12mill. box office 181 million. Do you honestly think the people who made that film care if someone gave them a mention? Nope. They only care that people responded to their film and made it a success. and lest's be real, there are way too many alternative outlets for films to be worried about Hollywood. The vast majority of films made will never see the light of Hollywood day even if they have a white cast in white face sporting white sheets. So get off this they don't appreciate me kick. Go make your damn film with great ACTORS! If they're black, great, white, great, purple great.But make your film, rent a theater and show the damn thing. Build your own following and stop waiting on outside entities to make it happen for you. Here's to FILMMAKERS!

FilmGuy

Think economically — make films that are going to put asses in seats! White people are most interested in White things. Black people are most interested in Black things. By simple mathematics, what stories are going to put the most asses in the most seats in America and cinemas worldwide?

gomezlb

I wouldn't go so far and say Black filmmakers should primarily tell stories about black people but shouldn't it be natural for you to tell those stories since they are stories of you burnished in your image?

Ryan Sharp

YES. As black filmmakers we are obligated to visually cement our stories and our history on film. As we've seen throughout the DECADES, HW could give 2-sh*ts about black films, filmmakers, and their stories. This is evident when Tim Story's "Think Like A Man" can come in at #1 at the box-office, but doesn't even garner the courtesy of a mention in a HW executive board meeting. This is also evident when studios like Lionsgate tell a Tyler Perry that his films won't do well overseas. HW and people from other backgrounds DO NOT UNDERSTAND the true essence of a "black" film. They can't! It's not in their DNA. Black people need to make black films geared towards a black audience. The hip-hop music industry THOROUGHLY understands this methodology. Those songs about selling drugs, getting money, and having wild relations with women are NOT GEARED towards anyone else other than the intended audience. But as we see, people ALL OVER THE WORLD embrace hip-hop as their own. Go to a Lil' Wayne concert. There will be an overflow of Caucasians that will recite EVERY word to his songs. And HW has the nerve to say that black films won't transcend nationalities?!? BS! It is OUR OBLIGATION as black flimmakers to tell stories about black people. IF WE DON'T, NO ONE ELSE WILL.

-RS

other song

I agree with what Donnie's saying and to be honest, I have no interest in writing White characters. Their stories have already been told. We as Black people have a FASCINATING experience. If I'm lucky, all I'll ever do is make films with Black characters. Maybe include other minorities if the story grabs me.

Donnie Leapheart

I primarily make films about people of color not only because there is already no shortage of films with all white people consistently appearing daily, but also because of the shear number of extremely talented black actors out there hungry for solid work and opportunities. Making a film with an all-white-cast doesn't guarantee success. If that were the case, EVERY white filmmaker in the world would be repped by CAA. I think the internal problems come when artists compare their success level to the exceptions to the rule. Everyone wants to be as known as Spike Lee, but that level of success is rare. Every black male actor wants to be Denzel, but his level of success is rare. Every rapper want to be Jay-Z, but his iconic status is a rarity. No one wants to be a "working class hero" anymore it seems.

Orville

I think the question Tambay should be asking his friend why can't he just be honest he wants white Hollywood approval. The NY Times had an excellent article a few weeks ago about diversity in entertainment. In the article, a white female author wrote a strong point she said that in America there is an attitude that being universal can only go one way.

So I think while black directors are NOT obligated to tell black stores. I do believe the reason some black directors cast white actors is to obtain acceptance. For instance, Steve McQueen got a lot of press in the mainstream and on Shadow and Act. Tambay and his crew made a big deal that Shame dealt with a taboo subject of male sex addiction. However, as numerous posters pointed out if the Michael Fassbender's character in Shame was a black man would the film be well received? Would Shadow and Act promote a film on this site that dealt with a heterosexual black man with a insatiable sex drive?

CareyCarey

"I think the fault lies not with the artists, but with the audiences". YES THAT! "As long as white stories dominate the media and distribution channels, it's too easy to NOT see stories told from (or about) different backgrounds or points of view". YES THAT TOO! "if there is any depth to an artist that should compel an artist to want to be an alternate voice". EXACTLY! "Unless your film is set in the middle of nowhere mid west America then there should be colour somewhere". EXCELLENT POINT! "the notion that films with predominantly Caucasian-starring casts seem to generally have a better shot at being financed, and widely seen, than films that center around the lives of people from any other so-called "minority" group; unless your film, with an overwhelmingly black cast, fits a familiar or proven mold" ~Tambay. STOP RIGHT THERE… the smell of napalm in the morning! The brutal facts, most people gravatate to the "familiar or proven molds" and money rules. Consequently, we have to face other undeniable facts. First, although black folks have a "voice" — history says — the majority of black folks spend their money on "a familiar or proven mold". It's a fool's errand to bump heads against that fact. Second fact, a large majority of white folks are in no hurry to spend their money on films with an overwhelmingly black cast. Flip it, smack it, rub it around but all the intellectualizing, rationtionalizing and wishful thinking will not rain supreme over the history of white folks spending habits and their characterization of "black films". And seriously, in my opinion, it's their right to spend their money as they please. Which, btw, has little or nothing to do with raciam of bigotry (Another conversation for another day. Moving on…). As Justin said: "the fault lies not with the artists, but with the audiences". It's basically the old rule of "Supply and Demand". Demand dictates supply. However, on the flip side, I believe it's important to analize the words of Tambay's frustrated black filmmaker friend. He said: "I'm done! My next project, I'm casting white folks". Now, his response begs serveral questions. I can safely assume he still has a vision of films with a cast of black folks (he surely hasn't lost that loving feeling) so is his goal piles of money? If so, has he sit his bar too high? Has most of the new black filmmakers set the "money bar" too high? In short, I believe Tambay's question –> "Black Filmmakers Are (Or Should Be) Obligated To Tell Stories Primarily About Black People".. is littered with ambiquity, to say the least. What are black stories? More importantly, does black people have to be the center of black stories? Does money rule the filmmakers "obligations"? Who's obligated to whom? Is there a definitive price on happiness and success?

Laura

Er…..No.

Turner

In a word…NO!

Gigi Young

I think it's a catch-22 situation because who's to say a significant portion of black moviegoers would care to see a film like "Shame" or even the super-commercial "Underworld" series if its cast were predominantly black?

Coming from the perspective of someone in the publishing industry, tons of black readers will count genres like SF/F, horror, paranormal romance, spy thrillers, historical fiction, etc as their favorite when not reading African-American fiction, but AA fiction is dominated by street lit, Christian or church-themed fiction, and romance novels. AA authors who don't write those types of books either remain unpublished, stuck in small presses with little exposure, struggle to break into the mainstream like the famous white authors writing for the same imprint, or just go ahead and write white characters (or go easy on describing their protagonists as black).

If anything, I think black audiences (and readers) are so accustomed to seeing only white people doing every and anything, they box themselves and their experience in, even as they resent the fact that there are no AA science-fiction films, no serious, non-Precious-type dramas, or even no flashy period pieces like the upcoming Gatsby adaptation. Since entertainment lives and dies by the dollar, why waste millions trying to "break" black audiences into predominantly black films outside of the comedic, gangsta, action, or soul-crushing drama genres?

Jacqueline Roebuck Sakho

It is a matter of a reciprocal responsibility…the black filmmakers and the black community. Racial fortuity.

p. sloan

As an old-timer who's been around a lot longer than most of you have, reading your comments, it's sad to see that revolutionary spirit that once ran through the black community is gone. Especially when so little has changed since i was in my 20s in the 1960s.

bondgirl

If it's really a slow news day, you could be discussing why Think Like A Man is *allegedly* banned in France, and how that will affect overseas sales. http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2012/05/think-like-a-man-banned-in-france-due-to-all-black-cast/

Rajua

I don't think anyone should be Obligated to tell a certain story. BUT, as a member of a grossly underrepresent & often misrepresented people when it comes to media if there is any depth to an artist that should compel an artist to want to be an alternate voice. Not saying that a filmmaker should make some preachy tale of struggle but to show the infinite aspects of culture that exist amongst people of African decent. Medicine for Melancholy, is a perfect perspective of an alternate glimpse into the lives black characters that according to most hollywood depictions of black culture, are nonexistent.

Most art is inspired by the socio-cultural influences that surrounding the artist as they grow and evolve and if you ignore the world around you, you compromise the development of your own art. Just my two cents.

Justin Kownacki

Is it okay for a white guy like me to answer this? ;)

IMHO, I disagree. That's like saying white filmmakers should primarily tell the stories of white characters (which happens anyway), or Asian filmmakers, or female filmmakers, etc. Yes, you may be ABLE to tell a story you can personally relate to better than someone else could, or you might be so close to the subject matter that you might miss what makes it a universally relatable story. Also, that means all filmmakers (or, broadly speaking, all artists) would be obligated to work primarily in the tableu they were born into, rather than the ones they might be most interested in or best-equipped to innovate within.

I think the fault lies not with the artists, but with the audiences. As long as white stories dominate the media and distribution channels, it's too easy to NOT see stories told from (or about) different backgrounds or points of view. But that doesn't mean we wouldn't all benefit from doing so. And it doesn't mean we can't all tell each others' stories in our own voices, as a means of finding commonalities AND appreciating differences, either.

Ibrahim

I don't buy it. The same ire should be directed at black artists who exclude. Unless your film is set in the middle of nowhere mid west America then there should be colour somewhere. I think we're indulging a dangerous way of thinking. I think the typical characters in movies and their uniformal whiteness reflects an ideal rather than reality. I write white characters and I also write characters who are black. Sometimes I go a bit nuts and write characters who are neither. #sarcasm. I think exploring racial dynamics outside of the black white dichotomy is really liberating.

Gary C.

Obligated to tell stories about black people? No. Putting obligations of any kind is creatively stunting. As black film makers, your only obligation is to excel at your craft. We can't bow to societal pressures or misguided pride and only tell our stories them turn around and tell Hollywood it's unfair that we don't have equal opportunities to make films as whites. What "black" story am I to tell in my sci-fi and fantasy films? Spielberg doesn't only do Jewish films. Scorsese doesn't just do Italian films. No one puts us in more boxes than ourselves.

Akimbo

No, but you'd be doing a great disservice if you're super talented and never ever wrote for black people. Everything you write doesn't have to be for or about black people, but if you're prolific, and you've got power, why the hell not?

whoopietail

Anyone who is having this discussion should ask themselves why they make films!

Boothe

Nope!

Black filmmakers should be primarily concerned with doing the best they can with their craft.

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