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What Does The Future Of ‘Black Cinema’ Look Like To You?

What Does The Future Of 'Black Cinema' Look Like To You?

I don’t think any of us can say with certainty what film production, distribution and exhibition will look like in 5, 10, 15, 20+ years from now. But we can certainly speculate, based on available information. 

I said plenty yesterday in my “New York Times” rant (if you missed it, click HERE to read it and catch up, along with all the comments that follow), and this time around, I’m going to get off my bully pulpit, shift lanes, and hand the space over to you guys to share your thoughts on the future of what we call “black film.” 

Specifically, what does “black cinema” look like to you, when you look ahead 10 years from now? And if you’ve never really given that much thought, well, now I’m asking you to do so. 

Yes, it’s a broad question, but that’s intentional. You can choose to be specific in your answers, and zoom in to one particular area within any of the various stages of the film production/distribution/marketing/exhibition processes, or focus on Hollywood versus Indie. Or you can be just as broad.

Note that I’m not asking you what you HOPE or WANT “black film” to look like in 10 years, but, instead, realistically, based on available information today, what do you think the “black cinema” landscape will look like in 10 years.

Have fun…

This Article is related to: Features



I definitely agree with "Just My Thoughts". Given the current status of Black cinema, it will slowly exhaust itself under hundreds of mediocre storylines, flat-line acting and rappers/entertainers as "actors"; however, because it makes money, it will be tolerated until something shinier comes along to capture the attention of the film-going audience. (FAST & FURIOUS XVII anyone…?)

I know you said not what we "want," but I don't follow instructions very well. I seriously want more Blacks with expendable cash to invest in producing quality (or better films) under the premise that films that are well told, well acted, well written and creatively filmed are appreciated by all audiences and that Black people have stories that are compelling and interesting.


"The training is nothing! The will is everything! The will to act."
-Ra's al Ghul to Bruce Wayne (Batman Begins)

I believe this should be taken into consideration.

Just MY Thoughts

What if I told you that this article or articles discussing such topics will never be shared as much as that other article? What if I told you not enough of the "right" people care? What if I told you it will be the same indifference now in ten or twenty years? In fact people will care even less about "Black Cinema" except for the artists trying to make it.

BUT, people will always care for new films that have the buzz, packaging etc including top actors, engaging story (not to be confused with content people "need/should" see just because it hasn't been addressed in film before) something that unquestionably pulls many audiences in and sucks the money out of them! Those can exists…. with black people in it but you can forget about rebuilding this canon of black cinema in America. Forget black filmmakers and black actors coming together to collectively flourish and celebrate their untouched success. That's too dangerous to many (including some people of color) Not happening Captain. Maybe in 2000 years an archelogist can look back on us and study the expansion of black cinema but we can't create it and celebrate at the same time. We need to focus on the work and not dwell on the praise or lack of it. We still haven't created an unstoppable force (s). No one has that momentum. Go get it and recognize that many people will need it at the same time in order for you to keep yours. Fly onward and upward.


Meanwhile, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of Game of Thrones fame is cast as Horus in the new "Gods of Egypt" directed by Alex Proyas.


What Does The Future Of Black Cinema Look Like To You?

That's easy because for the most part humans don't change. Well, I'll let Biggie, Puffy and Faith introduce my beliefs on this subject.

Faith Evans: Are you a bad guy trying to be good, or a good guy trying to be bad?

Notorious B.I.G.: I'm just trying to make it big.

Sean Combs: We can't change the world unless we change ourselves.

Stop right there, therein lies the root of my position. "CHANGE" – such a simple yet complex word. I believe where the mind goes the body will follow. Consequently, piggybacking off Puffy's words and speaking from my perspective (the only one I can really change), the future will look just as it looks today. There will be "black" products, film-makers, directors, etc, who some will adore. On the other hand, as Miles Ellison has said many times, some "black" products will not sell to the general public (in any great numbers)… and that's never going to change.

In respect to the black consumer (I am black btw), I have to look at the products/movies/films being offered and who's championing them and why. More importantly, will "MY" perspective of that slippery slope ever change? Well, I don't think so but let me explain.

Considering the "black" products that have been offered over the last 20 years, I believe I've seen as many as the average moviegoer (probably much more). Would I classify them as great and outstanding achievements? Nope, not in the least. But some folks would vehemently disagree with me and that's never going to change.

Moving forward, many folks blame others (people, places and things) for the deplorable condition of black cinema, yet, as I've suggested throughout this comment, change starts within.

Hey, as I've said many times… "I can't make you love me if you don't 'cause you can't make your heart feel something it won't…" and that's never gonna change. To that point, I can't make "critics" stop championing mediocrity. I can't make a person spend their money on films that someone said was "good" and was "good" for the black community… and that's never going to change.

In short "We can't change the world unless we change ourselves"… and the only one I can truly change is, myself.


TURNER and VC said it all for me. I just don't see it getting much better. But, hey, I'm reaching for the stars… in another galaxy. Maybe the way it is now and the immediate yet limited potential any of us here can see now are good enough for most folks. Just not for me, both on the storytelling side, the visual side, the public reception and the business of our films side.


It's gonna take a hell of a lot longer than ten years for black cinema to get even close to where it needs to be. Until the average black audience's (not the cinefiles who cruise here) education and tastes elevate to more sophisticated fare than Tyler Perry and the like, it will be more of the same but shot on a Canon. There will be more provocative and intelligent films made by black folks because of the affordable HDSLR format but the size of the audience for such will remain the same for decades. A heartbreaking fact.


Black Cinema will be great in the future, we will finally have what we always wanted, a variety of different stories told by black filmmakers. The studio system as we know it is on it's last leg, in the future filmmakers will carve out their own space and will partner up with investors to take their films further. I think most filmmakers in the future are going to be about owning their films and having final say on their films. The studio middleman between the filmmaker and the audience will be out the picture for good.The studios will no longer exist, you will just have management teams and agents, that will take the place of the studios. No longer will a few people be able to control what millions watch. Black films will be the best ther ever been because no longer will we have restraints on telling our stories or have to play to sterotypes.


Excellent description. Just wanted to add the maturation of devices like the iPad and apps like "Haunting Melissa". This paradigm might give advantages over a stagnant distribution platform or could be used in conjunction with somethig like AAFRM.

Wish Charles Judson would chime in :)


Some quick but informed thoughts:

It's something about us North and South Americans – as the West African cinemas are doing – getting in front of what CINEMA is, via the sourcing, funding, production and distribution of story. Meaning taking hold of "cinema" in terms of content and converstation but "movie" as experience. (Sort of going beyond what Steven Soderbergh talked about in the San Francisco festival, since he didn't speak on digital distribution.)

Definitely needs and should have more Pan-African contexts, as an earlier commenter said (and Nelson George has been saying for awhile); Americans mixing it up with Europeans, et al. in actual locales.
Stories will be increasingly sourced from successful webseries (maybe even more than shorts) that have been tested with big viewerships, awards, online channels.
Hopefully followin this unique year, a stream of 3 or 4 limited/focused theatrical releases (with DVD/VOD dates) lead by AFFRM. 3-4 times that number (12-15) "smaller" features will utilize current and new online platforms, or be self-distributed online.
More international co-productions that will center around other recognizable, legendary figures (Sojourner Truth, Haile Selassie, Frederick Douglass, Mugabe, Miriam Makeba, etc.); good stuff for A-list actors to chew on and get awards recognition for.
Ms. Winfrey and Mr. Perry will support a handful of filmmakers, as well as their own projects, for sure.
There will be a higher quality of indie filmmaking, if not storytelling, in the Western conventional modes.

What will still be an issue, because "black cinema" won't be seen as making money (as with any other ethnicity unless it's the new Fast & Furious-type franchise), is that Hollywood's business model won't be representing stories of black identity.
ADAPTATIONS? If they come up through a good and/or bestselling book (e.g. THE HELP) then maybe the studios will bite… There's a reason why James Baldwin's estate said no to adaptations and living authors are apprehensive. Achidie's AMERICANAH seems ripe; is there someone comparable to Reese Witherspoon (who bought GONE GIRL) to do get the rights and start developing? Would Ms. Achidie or any of her peers be willing and able?
Having top black actors lead big-budget movies that aren't funded by HARPO or TP Studios will be rare – except for a BLACK PANTHER movie.
Those starring Will Smith seem to be mostly SEQUELS to previous hits though I'm sure Overbrook will have a couple of originals (like THE AMERICAN CAN).
Genre (particularly sci-fi) and period-piece films that overcome the novelty of having the black/Pan-African experience as their premise will come around every 3 years or so.

I'm sure I'll have more to blab about, and/or correct, but I'll come back to see what others write.

Norris Young

The future of black cinema will look like "Kansas Street".
An upcoming film I wrote and directed. It has a black leading
Lady that is not a typical weaved out, heavy made up actress.
Its artsy and edgy but still represents our experience. She's not a stripper
Or a wife etc… she's a human being. Black cinema will start to show all of our
influences. I am a student of Kubrick, Malick, Hitchcock, Spike , etc.
We are no longer gonna put up with directors who just set up a camera and
shoot whatever is in front of them. We want real story tellers that care about
location, camera set up , etc. We DEMAND passion behind the lens. Show us your influences!!!


I think the Hollywood state will remain the same but (if we are lucky) the independents will have worked out a Hollywood like sub-system that will allow us to go from script to at least semi-wide theater release unobstructed and collect the revenues to re-invest.


I know you said not to hope, but I hope in future we will see more and more Pan African collaborations between African, Caribbean and Black American film studios. Since it's pretty obvious we complement each other's strengths.
What do I THINK it will be? I think we will see more and more white/latino actors/actresses incorporated into Black stories, in mostly a romantic manner.

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